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January 12, 2017

NFL divisional round playoff picks

Eagles NFL

For the gambling degenerates, here are my NFL divisional round 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.

Seahawks at Falcons (-5): The Falcons can score a lot of points against anyone (except the Eagles, apparently), while the Seahawks are very hit-and-miss offensively. While the Seahawks have a more playoff-trustworthy history, I see the Falcons' offense as being the most trustworthy unit on the field, even more so than the Seahawks' D.

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The Seahawks are 8-1 at home, and 3-4-1 on the road. Home field advantage is more meaningful in this game perhaps than any other in this round of the playoffs.

Texans at Patri*ts (-15): The playoffs are when the Patri*ts do their best cheating, and Gillette Stadium is where they do their best cheating. With home field advantage throughout, it's going to be tough knocking off Deflatey McGee and Filmy McFilmerson. Brock Osweiler won't present much of a challenge.

Steelers at Chiefs (-1.5): This is such a tough draw for Big Red and the Chiefs. Kansas City fought all season long to go 12-4, winning their division and gaining a first-round bye, even going 6-0 in the difficult AFC West, only to face a Steelers team that will enter this game on an eight-game winning streak.

This game opened as a "pick 'em," but shifted to the Chiefs being slight favorites, presumably because of concerns about Ben Roethlisberger's foot injury.

Earlier this year, the Steelers demolished the Chiefs 43-14, in a game that was over by halftime. At one point in that contest, Pittsburgh led 36-0. Then again, that was at a time during the season that the Eagles were 3-0. In other words, that was a long time ago. Still, the Steelers are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and it's hard to bet against that. This is my lock of the week.

Packers at Cowboys (-4.5): In the Cowboys' and Packers' first meeting this season, Aaron Rodgers looked like an average quarterback, missing throws that should have been touchdowns, and not seeing defenders, like this:

The Cowboys are indeed not going to see that Aaron Rodgers twice. However, they will likely catch a huge break in that they almost certainly won't have to face Jordy Nelson, who broke two ribs against the Giants in Green Bay's win last weekend. 

The last three NFC East teams to play a playoff game have been eliminated by the Packers (2014-15 Cowboys, 2015-16 Redskins, 2016-17 Giants), but Dallas is fresh, rested, and boat-free. I see them advancing.

• Picks against the spread: Steelers (+1.5), Cowboys (-4.5).

• 2016 season, straight up: 165-93-2 (.638)

• 2016 season, ATS:  39-33 (.542)

• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)

• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

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