Oakland @ Houston
The game that doesn't make me hate the idea that I have to work. It's hard to analyze a game where the Raiders are without their quarterback - and legitimate MVP candidate - Derek Carr. The Raiders don't look remotely close to a good team without him, which goes without saying, but still. On the other sideline the Texans have reluctantly given the ball back to their prized free-agent possession of last year, Brock Osweiler. At the end of the day Osweiler has big game experience and his team does defend.
Pick: Seriously? I feel awful that Carr - and NFL fans - have to watch this game. Texans over Raiders, 20-12.
Detroit @ Seattle
The Seahawks have been such a weird team this season. They hung 31 on the Patriots (in Foxborough) while scoring an impressive five against the Buccaneers. How will they come out against a team that limped into the playoffs? I think they get a jolt to their system; I don't think this game is as big a slam dunk as everyone else. The Lions will hang around. I guess you're starting to think I'm typing this with a concussion, right?
Matthew Stafford - one year post Calvin Johnson - has been at his best spreading the ball around to all his weapons. When the ball is moved all over the field instead of being forced to Megatron it forces the defense to account for every single skill player that Stafford has to choose from. The remnants of the Legion of Boom can't shade coverage to one receiver or scheme for one key player (aside from Stafford).
The Seahawks' offense has performed fantastic...and then sputtered. Good thing is the Lions have run out of gas...at the wrong time of the year.
Pick: Seahawks over Lions, 24-20.
Miami @ Pittsburgh
Field position, a consistent rushing attack and timely conversions by Matt Moore can lead the Dolphins to a playoff win; it's possible. If they can limit their exposure to the Steelers' offense they can coax Ben Roethlisberger into too many throws into tight windows when he's on the field.
Taking all that into account...
I picked the Steelers to win it all this year, so...
Pick: Steelers over Dolphins, 24-13.
NY Giants @ Green Bay
The secondary of the Packers is horrible while the Giants' strength, offensively, is their receiving corps. See an issue there? That alone could the derail the play of Aaron Rodgers. For about three seasons, the Packers' defense has stifled the team's potential. Rodgers can generate points just by slipping on his game jersey but since his defense is prolific in allowing teams to stick around, how much of a burden is too much to carry?
Big Blue can defend on all three levels and with Eli Manning's playoff history I do like the Giants in this one. It's going to be typical, January, weather in Wisconsin and one facet of football that proves to travel is defense. Will Rodgers pass all game long or will the Packers attempt to mix in a carry...or 22 to keep the G-Men honest?
Pick: This will be decided by a late third down conversion and I'll take the G-Men over the Packers, 19-16.
Last Week: 16-0
Regular Season: 169-87
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