Here Are Our 2016 NFL Divisional Round Weekend Picks Against The Spread 


Bob Donnan USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend’s NFL games were awful. Kansas City had the game won after the opening kickoff. The only thing left up for grabs after that was how many turnovers Brian Hoyer would make. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had the drama at the end, but it wasn’t necessarily a well-played game. Pittsburgh was up 15-0 until Ben Roethlisberger hurt his shoulder and the weather was clearly a factor. Minnesota obviously blew the game against Seattle, but the game was borderline unwatchable because of the cold weather. Neither offense was moving the ball and Seattle somehow won despite looking like they didn’t want to play in the cold for the first three quarters. Green Bay’s victory over Washington was the best game of the weekend and the Packers won by 17. It obviously wasn’t that good.

Please give us better football this weekend. Please! We’ve replaced Bridgewater, Cousins, Hoyer, and McCarron with Brady, Manning (not necessarily an upgrade, but we’ll get to that), Newton, and Palmer. That should help. Please! Please! Please! Ok, I’m done whining. Let’s move on to the picks.

Locks of the Week:

NEW ENGLAND -5.5 over Kansas City
This game comes down to one thing: Alex Smith. Do you think Bill Bellichick is going to let Alex Smith beat him at home? This is the same Alex Smith who only managed to put up 6 offensive points in the first half last week despite Brian Hoyer gifting him great field position on numerous drives with his Jake Delhomme impersonation. This is the same Alex Smith who averaged only 218 passing yards per game this year. There’s no way Bellichick, the best coach and defensive mind in the league, is going to lose to an Alex Smith offense that will either have a damaged Jeremy Maclin or no Maclin at all. The Patriots have the weapons as the 12th rated defense that has been beset by injuries this season, but now is now fully healthy. The Chiefs aren’t scoring more than 14 offensive points. That’s the bottom line.

There are some questions on what will happen on the other side of the ball because KC’s vaunted pass rush will be coming after the beat down offensive line of the Patriots. They’ve had two weeks to prepare and have one of the best offensive line coaches in the league. They still remember last year’s 41-14 drubbing in Kansas City that was supposedly the end of Tom Brady’s career. They’ll be fine. They’ll get done what they need. The wide receivers are healthy. Gronk’s knee will be fine. Pats win by double-digits here.

J. Camm’s Pick: New England (there is no way KC goes into Foxborough and even competes in this game, right? Right.)

ARIZONA -7 over Green Bay
We all remember what happened in Week 15. Arizona’s defensed demolished Green Bay in a 30-point victory. Nothing’s changed since then. Green Bay’s offensive line still sucks. It’s still 23rd in the league in pass protection according to Football Outsiders (FO). Just because it took advantage of the 21st ranked defense in Washington means absolutely nothing. Green Bay’s receivers still have the same problem and will struggle against Arizona’s top 3 defense. And Arizona won’t have trouble scoring. They’ve got too many weapons. Don’t buy into the recency bias here with Green Bay. If you’re feeling a little nervous, take the two-team teaser with New England and Arizona because they’re both locks to win this week. (Add this teaser to my locks of the week.)

J. Camm’s Pick: Arizona 
Rest of the Picks:

Seattle +3 over Carolina
I’ve been back and forth on this a bit. I’m somewhat ignoring the game back in Week 6 because Seattle’s defense wasn’t firing on all cylinders back then. Kam Chancellor was still working himself into game shape. Seattle’s offense is also a lot different since then. Jimmy Graham was apparently holding it back. Now it’s a pass-heavy offense that’s putting up big points on a weekly basis. (Ignore last week’s game because it was in below zero temperatures. You watched it. Neither team wanted to do anything.) Carolina’s the second best defense in the league according to FO, but is it really that good? It gave up 29 points to Green Bay, 38 to New Orleans, and 35 to the Giants. Part of the argument may be that Carolina was winning big in two of those games and a lot of points were scored in garbage time, but there clearly is a weakness in the secondary outside of Josh Norman.

Seattle’s two biggest weapons are Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson’s legs. Baldwin plays in the slot, which means he’ll be away from Norman. Wilson’s legs haven’t been neutralized in his entire career, so why start now. Carolina has a similar advantage with Newton’s legs, but their weapons surrounding Newton aren’t as good. Seattle should be able to neutralize Carolina’s offense with a likely heavier focus on stopping Greg Olsen.

J. Camm’s Pick: Carolina (I took the Panthers’ defense in my post season fantasy league and I can pick against that. Although I am suddenly questioning that pick as we speak.)

Pittsburgh +9 over DENVER
It’s a real shame that Antonio Brown has been ruled out and Big Ben is playing with half of a right shoulder. That obviously makes me more hesitant to play Pittsburgh this week. The flip side is Denver’s offense with Peyton Manning isn’t good. Just because it beat the Chargers, the 28th ranked defense in the league according to FO, with some run audibles doesn’t make Manning’s arm any better. Pittsburgh’s fifth ranked run defense should be able to neutralize the running game and force Manning to beat them. He may do something, but I’m not sure it’s double-digit victory something. Pittsburgh’s going to struggle to score as well because of Ben, so this fits somewhere in the 17-10 zone.

J. Camm’s Pick: Pittsburgh (I think Denver wins, but 9 is a big spread when we’re talking about Peyton’s highly questionable arm strength.)

Last Week: 1-3
Playoffs: 1-3

Locks: 32-25

JCamm: 2-2