The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs is one of the best weekends of the year. Traditionally it brings compelling match ups and typically features the best of the best. This year is no different. The Ravens and Patriots meet up another time in the playoffs. Baltimore is one of the teams that almost seems to enjoy going into New England.
This weekend also features Peyton Manning facing off against his former team the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck. As well as, two of the most storied franchises with the Cowboys heading to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers.
The last time a divisional round featured all four home teams winning was 2004. This year is one of the toughest to find a road team that makes sense to pick outright. The Super Bowl last year, was the first in a while to not involve at least one team that played Wild Card Weekend.
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While i wont be able to pick every game right, throughout the playoff, going 3-1 on Wild Card weekend was a pretty nice start. I have my sights on a 4-0 week, but it will be a challenge.
Lets pick some games and see if we can’t find a road dog to pick outright.
Baltimore Ravens +7 at New England Patriots
This has become a seemingly yearly occurrence for these two teams. The Ravens played the best game of their entire season in the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The return of Haloti Ngata, from his four game suspension was huge for the Ravens from seven. It also allows Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs an easier path to the quarterback. The front seven will be key in this game for Baltimore. They must get pressure on Tom Brady or their secondary, the Ravens biggest weakness will be exposed. Rob Gronkowski has the opportunity to destroy the Ravens defense and almost single-handedly win this game. This game will come down to a late field goal to win this game. Take the Ravens and the points in this one to be safe, but the Ravens will win this game and you can get the Ravens +250 currently .
Carolina Panthers +10.5 at Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have it rolling at the perfect time especially on defense. They will host a Panthers team that squeaked into the playoffs and beat Ryan Lindley and a Cardinals offense who couldn’t produce 80 yards of total offense in four quarters. The secondary for the Seahawks will make Cam Newtons day a rough one. The Panthers rush attack will be minimal at best. This will be game that the Seahawks dominate in terms of time of possession, yards, and everything but points. The Panthers defense has improved dramatically over the last four games of the playoffs and through round one. Their defense jumped from the mid twenties to a top 10 defense in those four weeks. This game feels like a lower scoring game that the Panthers will keep it close enough to cover the 10.5 point spread.
Green Bay Packers -6 vs Dallas Cowboys
By far the toughest game for me to pick. It features a Packers team that is a perfect 9-0 at home this season, against a Cowboys team that has yet to lose on the road, 8-0 thus far. Both teams had impressive wins in their streaks this season. The Packers beat a red-hot New England Patriots team. While the Cowboys went to Seattle and beat the Seahawks in what is arguably the toughest place to play for a road team. Aaron Rodgers make the Packers go. He has been nursing an ankle injury, but has shown the ability to play well despite injuries. The Cowboys will need to lead on running back DeMarco Murray to shoulder the load and help keep the dynamic Packer offense on the sidelines. This may be close initially, but the Packers will pull away and win by at least one touchdown, covering the spread.
Denver Broncos -7 v Indianapolis Colts
Of all four of the Divisional Round games, this is the game i am most confident in. The Colts have been the team that can put huge numbers and dominate teams that are beneath them, but when its time to step up to play with the big boys, things don’t go well to say the least. This season they have been dominated by this same Broncos team, Pittsburgh, and Dallas all winning by a touchdown and usually much more. The final score of the Colts game against Denver looks much closer than the game was for 3 and ½ quarters. As for the Broncos, despite not playing their best football down the stretch, they have the talent on both sides of the ball. I expect a huge performance from Peyton Manning and company winning this game going away. This feels like an “oh yeah! The Broncos are awesome.” type game.
If you want some additional action, you can do a three team teaser I put together. For those who have never done a tease, it combines multiple teams like a parlay, but allows you to add 6 points to either side. For example, the Broncos are favored by 7 points against the Colts, you can put the Broncos in a tease and the new line would be Broncos -1. You can do the same thing with the Colts taking them from +7 to +13.
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For this weekend, on a 6 point tease you can take Baltimore Ravens +13, Seattle Seahawks -5, and Denver Broncos -1. All three teams would have to cover in order win. The more teams you add, the better the potential payout becomes.
You can even throw in Ohio State or Oregon if you’re feeling adventurous. Check out my pick in that game if you want some advice on which way i lean.