The 2016 NFL playoffs advance to the divisional round following a mix of exciting and boring in the wild card round. The first round opened with a fairly dull Kansas City Chiefs win over the Houston Texans, and closed with another fairly dull Green Bay Packers win over Washington. In between, we had some insanity. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on a last-second field goal due to a Jeremy Hill fumble and two ugly personal foul penalties. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Minnesota Vikings thanks to Blair Walsh missing a 27-yard field goal.
As we move into the divisional round, I thought we'd take an early look at odds. I've posted the full schedule below, with each line, and my early leanings. I went 3-1 ATS last week, with my one loss coming with Washington.
No. 2 New England Patriots vs. No. 5. Kansas City Chiefs
Line: Patriots -5
Money has mostly been on the Patriots coming out of the gate, but not enough to change it much. You can find Patriots -5.5 in some spots, but mostly it is at five. The Patriots are expected to have Julian Edelman back for the divisional round, but the injury report will be important to track this weekend. I'm tempted by the Chiefs at this point, but these are certainly not the Houston Texans they are facing. The Chiefs defense made some big plays on Saturday, but the Texans offense might have looked abysmal against most defenses. I'm leaning Patriots, but we'll see how the line and injury report shake out this week.
No. 2. Arizona Cardinals vs. No. 5 Green Bay Packers
Line: Cardinals -7
The Packers stumbled into the playoffs, coming off a home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The offense looked bad in the first quarter against Washington, but they finally got things going, and won their wild card matchup with relative ease. Now, they get to head to the southwest to face the Arizona Cardinals next weekend on a bit of a short week. I'm not entirely sure why they didn't just again have the AFC teams playing Saturday, and the NFC teams playing Sunday. I don't get NFL scheduling. Arizona was destroyed by the Seahawks in Week 17. They may or may not have been giving their all in that one, but it's kind of difficult to figure out. Of course, that also came a week after Arizona crushed Green Bay in Arizona. Early money is on the Cardinals, but if the Packers offense is back on track in any way, I can see myself leaning Green Bay. If I had to pick today, I would take Green Bay, but we'll see what the week brings.
No. 1 Carolina Panthers vs. No. 6 Seattle Seahawks
Line: Panthers -3
The Seahawks have been all over the place, getting incredibly lucky in Sunday's win over the Minnesota Vikings. They deserve credit for taking advantage of the breaks, but Blair Walsh missing a 27-yard field goal counts entirely as one big break for Seattle. They now travel to face a Carolina team that is significantly better than Seattle. Carolina should have Jonathan Stewart back, while Marshawn Lynch's status is up in the air for Seattle. Heavy public money is on Carolina, and I lean that way for now.
No. 1 Denver Broncos vs. No. 6 Pittsburgh Steelers
Line: Broncos -6.5
This is an interesting one. The line opened at 2.5-points offshore, but quickly shot up for Denver. Not all sportsbooks are offering a line yet because Ben Roethlisberger's status is questionable. He suffered a shoulder injury that some are describing as a separated shoulder, but reports suggest the Steelers are optimistic he will play. On the other side, Peyton Manning is back in the saddle for Denver. If Roethlisberger can play, I figure he will be hopped on pain killers, and should be able to actually ignore the effects of the shoulder injury. I would lean Steelers in that case, but we'll see what happens with the injury report.