From dominant performances to controversial calls, the NFL Wild Card round lived up to the hype last week. The Dallas Cowboys finally won a playoff game, and the sub-.500 NFC South champion Carolina Panthers also advanced to a tough divisional game against the Seattle Seahawks.
In the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts made easy work of the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Baltimore Ravens won, which facilitates a rematch with their rivals, the New England Patriots. The four top seeds were on a bye last week, so we’ll see just how much that helps going forward with this weekend’s games.
**Editor’s Note: For additional NFL playoff picks check out our partner at Picks.org for individual analysis on all the games going down this weekend.
NFL Divisional Round Playoff Game of the Week
Baltimore Ravens (+7) @ New England Patriots (-7)
Saturday, 4:35 PM ET
The Ravens and Patriots have met three times over the last five postseasons. The Ravens upset the Patriots in New England en route to the Super Bowl two years ago and after a one-year hiatus, they’re back.
The Ravens will have to hope for a big game from Joe Flacco and a better game from Justin Forsett, who struggled against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round. Baltimore’s defense is bound to have a tough time slowing down Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.
Unlike two years ago, Brady now has a healthy Rob Gronkowski and dominant running backs who should thrive in this type of weather. New England should be able to move the ball almost at will – especially when they throw. The Ravens’ cornerbacks have been decimated by injuries, so if the Patriots take advantage, New England should cover.
Our Pick: New England (-7)
NFL Divisional Round Playoff Underdog of the Week
Dallas Cowboys (+6) @ Green Bay Packers (-6)
Sunday, 1:00 PM ET
Dallas came from behind to beat the Detroit Lions in controversial fashion last week. The hullabaloo stemmed from a penalty for pass interference that was rescinded.
It was a crucial third down situation before what turned out to be the Cowboys’ game-winning drive. Dallas’ confidence should be boosted from that win. Interestingly enough, they’ve performed best on the road all season. While the Packers were a perfect 8-0 at home, the Cowboys were a perfect 8-0 on the road.
The problem for Dallas is that Aaron Rodgers has more weapons to put up big numbers. They also have the experience and instinct that the Lions lacked.
However, we’ll bank on the fact that the Cowboys will learn from last week’s mistakes. They’ll get off to a better start, run the ball with more efficiency and hopefully keep this close. And if Rodgers’ calf is still a problem, they might even win.
Our Pick: Cowboys (+6)
Two-Team Teaser of the Week (7 Pts.)
Denver Broncos (-7) vs. Indianapolis Colts (+7)
Seattle Seahawks (-11) vs. Carolina Panthers (+11)
The Colts’ win over Cincinnati set up another showdown between Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning. For as impressive as the former has been throughout his young career, his supporting cast isn’t as good as Manning’s.
The Colts don’t run the ball very well, and Luck doesn’t seem to have many weapons outside of TY Hilton. The Broncos had the extra week off to prepare for this game and should win in the Mile High City.
As a seven-point favorite, we’re going to tease them to a Pick, which is much more manageable in this particular betting situation. It’s also the most worthwhile and safe play on top of that.
Meanwhile, the lowly Panthers got by the injury-riddled Arizona Cardinals and now head west for a date with the rested Seahawks. The 12th man will be roaring. To say that Carolina is outmatched is an understatement.
Applying the seven-point tease moves the Seahawks to -4, and they should have no problem covering less than a touchdown at home.
Our Pick: Broncos Pick & Seahawks -4
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