You can argue that this upcoming weekend is the best weekend of football we get all season. We’re lined up with four great games (maybe three if you think Carolina doesn’t have much of a chance) over the course of two days. With all the cold weather hitting the country, it’s a perfect weekend to bunker up with a 30-rack and some of the best delivery food in your area.
Baltimore +7 over NEW ENGLAND
It’s possible that there’s too much steam on Baltimore at this point, but the pieces are there for them to cover this spread and win the game outright. They have the 5th-best pass rush in the league according to Football Outsiders (FO) and New England’s offensive line in pass protection is considered to be a weak link by most pundits. Tom Brady’s stats when under pressure drop dramatically compared to when he has time to throw, so the Ravens will be gunning at him all game. The Ravens’ secondary actually looked average last week, which was much better than expected, so that might not be a complete liability for them. The Pats really don’t chuck the ball down the field to expose Baltimore’s true secondary weakness, so I’m not sure how New England runs away in this game. (We’ll see if they force Gronkowski a lot down the seam because ladies love partying on the Sinners Bus.) On the other side of the ball, Joe Flacco just seems to get things done on the road in the playoffs. I can’t explain why. I still think the Pats come out on top, but I’d be scared as a Patriots’ fan.
Kyle’s pick: New England 28, Baltimore 20
SEATTLE -11 over Carolina
I’m not completely sold on Seattle covering this spread, but I lean more in that respect than the other way. There’s no way Seattle is losing this game, especially now that Carolina’s best run stopper, Star Lotulelei, is out with a foot injury. (Marshawn Lynch is your DFS play of the week at running back) Seattle will be able to move the ball at will. On the other side of the ball, Cam Newton has struggled historically against the Seahawks’ defense and I don’t see how that changes much here. Jonathan Stewart won’t have as much success running the ball against the second-best rush defense in the league according to FO. Kelvin Benjamin is the type of receiver that Richard Sherman shuts down routinely. The fans in Seattle might be back out in the parking lot playing flip cup at halftime.
Kyle’s pick: Seattle 19, Carolina 14
GREEN BAY -5.5 over DALLAS
It’s going to be a cold day in Green Bay on Sunday. Fans will need to eat about three of these burgers to stay warm. This is the game I’m the least convinced about. Neither team has a strong defense. Green Bay has more talent on that side of the ball, specifically with their pass rush, and we saw what a strong pass rush did to Tony Romo in the first half of last week’s game against Detroit. There should be no way Dallas ever stops Green Bay’s offense, while you figure Dallas will get stopped on occasion as long as the referees don’t throw plenty of holding penalties. There’s also data showing that quarterbacks with smaller than average hands perform worse in cold weather. Unfortunately for Cowboys’ fans, Tony Romo has that feature. There’s a little feat with Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury, but at least he’s had a couple weeks’ worth of rest. We gotta root for Green Bay because everyone’s tired of this Chris Christie thing by now, right?
Kyle’s pick: Green Bay 38, Dallas 24
DENVER -7 over Indianapolis
The Colts rolled through last weekend’s game because Cincinnati’s offense was embarrassingly bed. It certainly didn’t help that they were missing two of their key receiving weapons. That should be different this week as Denver’s got the passing game (we’ll get back to this) to match up with their newly dominant run game. Peyton Manning may be dealing with a bit of a noodle arm, but the weather conditions in Denver this weekend favor him since it’s supposed to be sunny and in the mid-40s. Denver should be able to get a pass rush going with Von Miller and Demarcus Ware taking on backup tackle Joe Reitz. Look at the Colts schedule and check out who they’ve beaten in their wins. Two wins over Cincinnati (both without A.J. Green) and one win over regular season Joe Flacco isn’t much to get excited about.
Kyle’s pick: Indianapolis 27, Denver 24
Last Week: 2-2