January 19, 2017
For the gambling degenerates, here are my NFL Conference Championship picks. To note, the helmets indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note the teams that I like based on the spread.
Packers at Falcons (-4): A week ago, the Packers faced a Cowboys offense that they couldn't stop without the Cowboys shooting themselves in the foot with dumb penalties and questionable play-calling. This week in Atlanta, they'll face a Falcons offense that is even better than the Cowboys'.
Against Dallas, the Packers stayed in their nickel defense most of the game because their defensive secondary was ravaged by injuries. The Packers likely assumed (and conceded) they would get gashed in the run game, but because they were able to build up such a big early lead, the Cowboys foolishly got away from what they do best, which is running the football.
Against Atlanta, the Packers better figure out a better solution to an opposing star receiver. Last week, they simply lined up Ladarius Gunter against Dez Bryant all day, and he torched them. It'll be worse if they try that with Julio Jones. Also, the Packers probably shouldn't count on the Falcons getting away from the run with their two very talented backs in Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Most think of the Falcons as a passing offense, and while they are indeed very good throwing the football, they were also fifth in rushing offense in 2016.
Of course, Aaron Rodgers could play out of his mind again on Sunday and nobody would be surprised, but it'll be tough for him to match what he did against Dallas. If you take away the quarterbacks, who are both great, Atlanta has the better roster.
Steelers at Patri*ts (-6): It's worth noting (as others have) that the last eight quarterbacks the Patri*ts have faced are Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick (twice), Jared Goff, Joe Flacco, Trevor Siemian, Matt Moore, and Brock Osweiler, which is obviously not exactly a murderers' row.
If you want to talk yourself into believing that the Patri*ts are untested or overrated or something, do so at your own peril. Also, they cheat.
• Picks against the spread: Falcons (-4).
• 2016 season, straight up: 168-94-2 (.640)
• 2016 season, ATS: 40-34 (.541)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)
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