The Divisional Round was good to us, but don’t get cocky with only two games in the NFL Conference Championships. Your best picks against the spread.
Our brothers went 3-1 in the Divisional Round, missing only the Kansas City game. Apparently they fared better than Las Vegas. Favorites began the postseason 6-0 against the spread. Only Green Bay finally put an end to that streak heading into the Conference Championships. Overall, favorites and home teams are 6-2 thus far, with just three games remaining in the season.
Will the home teams continue to roll, or will the Packers and Steelers flip the script? Our NFL Conference Championships feature some of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL, but whose offense will carry the day?
Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, discuss the best picks against the spread in today’s NFL Sports Debate.
2016 Playoff Record ATS:
Dan Salem: 4-4 Todd Salem: 5-3
Green Bay Packers +5 at Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers +6 at New England Patriots
Todd Salem: Despite the trend to begin the playoffs, I am taking both road teams in the Conference Championship Round. The lines seem to be heading that direction, trying to get bettors off the home favorites. I am willing to take the extra few points Vegas is giving. I don’t think either Green Bay or Pittsburgh should be as big of an underdog as they are. Both teams could win outright, let alone cover close to a touchdown.
The Packers pick is a no-brainer. They are playing the best of any team in football right now. The defense is not something that can be counted on, but Atlanta’s defense is even worse. At a minimum, we can call that a draw. So what would you rather have, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense on the road getting five points, or Matt Ryan and Atlanta trying to protect home field and overcome a five-point deficit?
Pittsburgh scares me a bit, but six points still feels too high. Plus, the Steelers have actually had the best defense of any team remaining in the postseason. Not too shabby for a squad that also has the best one-two offensive duo in the league in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
I picked against the Steelers last week, but that ended up being an even bigger mistake than the final score indicated. Pittsburgh dominated the entire game in Kansas City, managing six total scoring drives and five scoring drives of 45+ yards apiece. If any of those field-goal drives turned into touchdowns, the game would have been out of reach long before the Chiefs’ failed two-point conversion. That gives me confidence for Pittsburgh going into New England.
Dan Salem: Home teams have won rather convincingly because they earned the right to play at home by being better. Green Bay’s hot streak has been the exception. While Pittsburgh also won on the road last week, I have a hard time giving credit to a team that failed to score a touchdown. They got close as you noted, but failing to cross the goal line is unacceptable in the postseason.
Atlanta Falcons -5 vs Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots -6 vs Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m firmly against you in the NFL Conference Championships. I’m taking both home teams and giving the points, continuing to ride the wave of home dominance and stronger overall units. I don’t see either of these games coming down to a field goal, so I’m happy to give less than a touchdown and pick my winners.
The Falcons started slow at home against Seattle, but ultimately blew the game open as I thought they would. Their defense did enough to slow Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham, while Matt Ryan and his offense continued to put up big numbers, shredding a rather formidable Seattle defense. The Packers do not have as good a defense and Atlanta’s will do enough to slow down Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has been great, but one dimensional football can only take you so far. The Falcons are better on both sides of the ball. They win at home.
What I eluded to earlier is the reason I’m taking New England at home and giving the points. Pittsburgh did not score a touchdown against Kansas City. That indicates that their high-powered offense is slowing at the wrong time. The Patriots will dominate the Steelers defense, so its up to Pittsburgh’s offense to keep pace. They won’t do it, so give six points and ride with New England.