If we’ve come to any kind of conclusion after a weekend of Wildcard matchups, it’s that this year’s NFL Playoffs are screaming “Year of the Defense.”
I had a pretty good week overall, going 6-2 (2-2 picking games but a 4-0 sweep on over/under picks). One thing seems clear is despite all efforts to the contrary, this is the year of defenses.
Just about every top contender this season is either known for its defense or, at least, features an excellent defense to go along with whatever pyrotechnics they have available. Of the remaining playoff contenders, only the Packers and Steelers are dominated by their offensive units.
That may not help you necessarily pick the winners, but it does help explain why I had such success with over/unders while going a mere.500 picking against the spread. Similar dynamics are in play this week, although given the high quality of the remaining playoff quarterbacks, I would not necessarily count out a few high scoring contests this weekend.
Kansas City (+4.5) @New England over/under 43 (Jerry’s Nugget)
New England is rather lucky. They might have lost had they played last weekend, but not now.
They’re getting a number of key players back on the o-line, in the receiving corps and on defense. Kansas City, meanwhile, will have an injured Jeremy Maclin to deal with.
Despite their impressive win streak, the Chiefs had a very easy second half schedule. Besides, this is what New England lives for.
I like the Chiefs defense enough to take the under here, but I’m quite happy giving the 4.5 points.
New England Patriots 27 Kansas City Chiefs 14
Green Bay (+7) @Arizona over/under 49.5 (Westgate Superbook)
I have to admit, this is the toughest games on the schedule for me this week.
The Packers certainly looked like they were back in form last week, but it was against a crappy Washington team that didn’t belong in the playoffs. While I don’t think the Cardinals are going to repeat that trouncing they handed Green Bay a few weeks ago, I do like them to win the game. I’m just not sure I want to give them a touchdown.
What I am sure about is I like both offenses to put up some points so the over is a solid pick. As for the points, I’m giving them, but I don’t like the game as a pick.
Arizona Cardinals 31 Green Bay Packers 23
Seattle (+1.5) @Carolina over/under 44.5 (CG Technology)
Well look at this, this line opened at 3 and has sunk like a stone and I know why. The Seahawks are a hot team right now, and they’re a lot like the Seattle team everyone expected to see from the outset.
Despite Carolina’s mojo and the irrepressible Cam Newton, I can’t get myself to pick against Seattle. In addition, teams that “luck into” the next round like the Seahawks did, tend to justify the Football Gods’ smiling upon them by turning in a great performance the following week.
While I don’t necessarily love the game as a pick, I do love the under here. Just like the Vikings matchup last week, these are two of the NFL’s very best defenses going at it so don’t expect them to break 20.
Seattle Seahawks 21 Carolina Panthers 19
Pittsburgh (+7) @Denver over/under 39.5 (CG Technology)
Wow, that 39.5 over/under number really tell you what the odds-makers think of Pittsburgh’s offense with an injured Ben Roethlisberger a no Antonio Brown or DeAngelo Williams, doesn’t it?
Because of that, Denver is one of my favorite selections this week. I think the Broncos’ defense, if they don’t have to deal with Brown, will do a great job limiting Pittsburgh’s offense, even if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t all that injured this week.
In addition, a healthy Peyton Manning should be able to deal with a Steelers defense that isn’t all that ferocious, although it is capable enough I suppose. Finally, don’t you think those same Football Gods want to give NFL fans Manning vs. Brady one more time, for a trip to the Super Bowl? Think of it!
By the way, although the 39.5 over/under is persuasive, I’m actually going with the over here. I just think the low total speaks volumes to how limited the Steelers offense is perceived to be.
Denver Broncos 28 Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Featured image via Cardinals Report