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Divisional Round Predictions

Edelman will surely make many plays on Sunday, but it could be the one or two drops he tends to have in big games that could make the difference.
Divisional Round Predictions
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Welcome to the AFC North weekly predictions!

 

Each week, our AFC North featured writers will list their picks for that week and be forced to explain why they voted as they did. Keep in mind that these picks are for entertainment purposes only, and in no way should be used to influence gambling or illegal activity, unless you’re smart enough to recognize that we know more than you because we publish things.

 
AFC North writers had an excellent wild card week, and lived up to last week’s boasting: “the writers will pick each playoff game to prove that their expertise extends beyond the AFC North”. Sure their 7-1 record was aided by the fact that every home team won last weekend, but that result doesn’t happen often. Actually, it has happened just once since 2006, and home teams have split their last 36 games during that span. Last season the wild card hosts went 0-4. The facts of this wild card week were that the hottest teams entering the postseason won (Packers 6-0, Steelers 7-0, Chiefs 5 of 6, 10 of 12), and teams who limped into the round lost (Lions 0-3, and Dolphins and Raiders blown out week 17)
 
Last week I listed team data in the predictions piece, but moved them to a separate article for the divisional round.
 
Regarding team data from last week’s list, the four teams ousted in the wild card round combined to win eight Super Bowls and 18 total NFL championships. The losers were also three of the four oldest franchises, tantamount to NHL’s original six.
 
 
Divisional schedule:
Saturday:

Seattle Seahawks (11-5-1) 4:35 pm, FOX

Ironically this is a matchup between a team who pumps in noise and gets caught vs a team that doesn’t. A team with a ravid home crowd vs a team with weak home support (but they can get loud because… its a dome. A team with postseason confidence vs a team and QB looking to change their poor reputation,
 
Saturday:

Houston Texans (10-7) @ New England Patriots (14-2), 8:15 pm, CBS

USA vs USSR, Villanova vs Georgetown, Buster Douglas vs Mike Tyson, Giants vs Patriots… There is no reason to watch this game, right? OK the 2016 Patriots are very good but not nearly as dominant as the former champs above. Still, the surprise winners mentioned had a better chance than the Texans.
 
Sunday:

Green Bay Packers (11-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (13-3), 4:40pm, FOX

The Packers game is again the marquee contest of the weekend, and this time they rumble with the Cowboys led by two rookies. Those rookies are certainly at good on paper, but they can thank a ridiculous offensive line for a decent portion of their success (a unit in my opinion that should collectively get the MVP). That OL wears teams down if their opponents can’t sustain drives.
 
Sunday:

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), 8:20 pm (moved from 1:05pm due to weather), NBC

Offensive firepower vs game management and special teams. The game was moved not because of weather, but because KC fans petitioned the NFL to be granted an extra seven hours of alcohol consumption, and petitioned the state for a sick day on Monday.
 
 
On to the predictions!
 
 
Paul Johansson’s picks (4-0):
 
Seahawks @ Falcons
Until the Matt Ryan and the Falcons prove otherwise, I will continue to write them off in the postseason. Not that Seattle has been world beaters, but on the big stage, this generation’s “dirty birds” have the playoff mental stability of the Bengals. The Seahawks only get stronger and more confident with every win.
 
Seahawks 31, Falcons 21
 
Texans @ Patriots
So you are saying they have a chance… the Texans actually do IF their front seven can make Brady uncomfortable. Lucky for Brady, JJ Watt won’t play until the 2017 regular season, Bill Belichick generally keeps a solid offensive line, and fewer holding penalties are called as teams get deeper into the playoffs. This will be similar to the Pats week 17’s outcome but Houston will show a little more fire than the Dolphins.
 
Texans 10, Patriots 24
 
Steelers @ Chiefs
The Chiefs defense is similar to the Saints championship D. Very opportunistic (leads the NFL in turnovers and +-), and they bend but don’t break (poor stats but 7th in points against). The difference is the Chiefs have Alex Smith and the Saints have Drew Brees. If Ben is limpy, KC might have a chance, but he will get injected with some substance to numb the pain.
 
Steelers 20, Chiefs 17
 
Packers @ Cowboys
Like the Falcons, until the Cowboys prove me otherwise… wait that was with Romo. That said, Prescott has shown some cracks lately, and Green Bay is as hot as any team in the league. My guess is the stadium will be filled with 20% Packers fans, 50% Cowboys fans, and 25-30% other. Something in my gut tells me this is the year Rodgers makes another run.
 
Packers 27, Cowboys 20
 
 
Jack Crawford’s picks (3-1):
 
Seahawks @ Falcons
Could be a fun game, actually. The Seahawks are bound to suffer from shifting three time zones, while the Falcons are bound to suffer from a glaring lack of playoff success. The talent discrepancy isn’t too large between the two.
 
Seahawks 27, Falcons 24
 
Texans @ Patriots
(insert wealth of cliches about the superiority of Patriots QB Tom Brady here)
 
Texans 12, Patriots 31
 
Steelers @ Chiefs
I like the Chiefs, who have overcome injuries, an upstart Raiders team, and a defending Super Bowl champ on their way to a division title. I also like their chances of blowing this game at home to a superior offensive team.
 
Steelers 26, Chiefs 20
 
Packers @ Cowboys
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is brilliant. He’s awesome. He’s clutch. He’s what every team wants at quarterback. And on the road in a hostile Dallas environment, he’s going to lose.
 
Packers 24, Cowboys 35

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