Welcome back for the divisional round of the 2015 NFL playoffs! The second round of the playoffs kicks off Saturday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. PT, when the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens square off in a rematch of the 2013 AFC Championship Game. While we are busy wondering what will happen with the San Francisco 49ers coaching search, the divisional weekend should provide some good football.
Last week, I continued my sorry ways, putting together a 1-3 performance against the spread. I had three of the four winners right, but when picking against the spread, that just does not matter enough. The Cardinals had a chance to at least get me to .500, but I probably should have realized picking a Ryan Lindley-led offense was a baaaaaad idea. The Steelers decisive loss to the Ravens surprised me as well.
No. 1 New England Patriots (-6.5) over No. 6 Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are going to be a popular pick for some given their win over the Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship Game. These are different teams from that game, but the game still comes to mind for some. And the road team is 5-0-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these two. If the spread was a little higher, I would probably go Ravens, but that free half point below a touchdown is just enough for me.
No. 1 Seattle Seahawks (-11) over No. 4 Carolina Panthers: I really wanted to pick Carolina, but after seeing them stumble along in an ugly win against Arizona, I'm just not seeing it. They played the Seahawks close in a 13-9 loss in Carolina early in the season, but this Seahawks team has won six straight, all by double digits and all covering the spread. It would not shock me if Carolina hung close, but I just think Seattle pulls away at some point and covers their seventh straight.
No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (+5.5) over No. 2 Green Bay Packers: This seems to be the most popular upset pick among the four games. Aaron Rodgers is banged up with a calf strain, and Dallas is on a bit of a roll. The Cowboys are 7-1 ATS in eight road games this season, but 2-7 ATS in their last nine playoff games. I think Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray will be able to drive this thing to Seattle.
No. 2 Denver Broncos (-7) over No. 4 Indianapolis Colts: You could make arguments for both Sunday games as big-time upset possibilities. The Colts have actually covered seven straight games against Denver, but I think the Broncos will take care of business this week. The Broncos have quietly put together the fourth ranked defense, according to Football Outsiders. I think they can sufficiently contain Andrew Luck and company this weekend.