Divisional Round Preview and Picks

My Jeff Green column will be up Sunday, as will other pieces.  For now, it’s football time.

Denver Broncos -7 over Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos over Indianapolis Colts straight up
.

This one is too easy.  The Colts are riding high after their win, and that’s probably too high.  Seeing Andrew Luck beat his predecessor is a nice story, but not a nice reality.  The Broncos are 4th in weighted DVOA for the season, and there’s a big drop off after 5, while the Colts can’t climb above 13th, even with that win.  Denver’s pass defense can slow Luck enough, while the Colts can’t do anything on the ground.  This one is the easiest call for the week, both for the spread and moneyline.

Carolina Panthers (+11.5) over Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks over Carolina Panthers straight up.

There’s not much analysis to offer here.  It’s just too high at 11.5.  There are way too many opportunities for a backdoor cover, and couldn’t we all see one of those dominating 20-9 victories by the Seattle defense that still wouldn’t cover the line.  And the Panthers do know how to play it close.  This game might never be within a touchdown, but it doesn’t have to be.

Dallas Cowboys (+6) over Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers over Dallas Cowboys straight up.

This will be the game of the weekend.  Two high flying, really good teams going at it in the cold, but the cold won’t hurt the product on the field too much.  There could be a lot of turnovers, even though both offenses have been pretty good at avoiding that, but turnovers will only make the game more enjoyable.  I’m picking the Cowboys to cover because their offense can definitely keep up, and it should be a back and forth game, so taking the points is the correct call.  But I have to trust Aaron Rodgers, the best offensive player in football, to come out on top at home.  The lure of Lambeau will live, but the Cowboys will play a respectable enough game, as will Tony Romo, that we don’t have to hear too many blowhards in the media piling on about them being chokers.

New England Patriots (-7) over Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots over Baltimore Ravens straight up.

I saved this one for last, obviously.  Look, I’m terrified of this game, too.  The Ravens know how to win in Foxboro, and they have balls, to put it bluntly.  The bitter memory of 2 years ago, a game in which I was at and I’ll be at again today, scares the shit out of me.  But this isn’t the same Ravens team, and the Patriots are a better team as well.  Joe Flacco, while a really good playoff performer, isn’t quite what we saw in 2012, and he will probably need to be that guy today for the Ravens to win.  I’ll bet against it.  And I don’t trust Justin Forsett to destroy the Patriots on the ground the same way that Ray Rice did in 2009.  Browner and a safety will take Torrey Smith, although he’s probably gonna take 3 agonizing penalties, no exaggeration.  Revis will shut up anyone who says that Steve Smith will go off today.  And Gronk will have 150 yards and at least 1 TD.  The best bets for this game are the over on Gronk’s 5.5 catches and 77.5 yards that you can find on Bovada.  The Ravens don’t have a pass defense in the middle of the field, and the big man will feast.

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