Home-field will continue to matter, but how much? In the 2017 NFL Divisional Playoffs we must make snap decisions. Your best picks against the spread.
What a Round 1. And by that we mean, what a stinker it was. All four home favorites won and covered easily. There wasn’t a good game in the bunch. It does feel rare that all four first-round games were blowouts in favor of the favorites, though.
When picking games against the spread, even if you feel that all four home teams will win, your head tells you that won’t happen. We learned that, occasionally, it does. Onto the Divisional Round. How much will home field advantage now matter? Your best picks ATS for the NFL Divisional Playoffs 2017.
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: 1-3 Todd Salem: 2-2
Atlanta Falcons -4 vs. Seattle Seahawks
Todd Salem: I am going to keep telling myself not to overreact to Wild Card Round results. Seattle looked really good, but the game was at home, and the Seahawks faced the worst playoff team in the NFC. They also got an out-of-character game from Thomas Rawls. He hadn’t been that good since last season. Atlanta doesn’t have a good defense, but I expect the Falcons to be able to take away one runner when there is little threat of a pass. The Falcons also have better pass rushing. Vic Beasley will be an issue for the Seattle offensive line.
The matchup of Atlanta’s offense versus Seattle’s defense will be a lot of fun, but I think the reverse matchup will decide this contest. For everyone who thinks Matt Ryan won’t be able to handle the postseason, and Russell Wilson has too much experience to fail: Wilson is a nothing-special 6-5 against the spread in his playoff career.
Dan Salem: I too am taking the Atlanta Falcons minus four points. Playing at home in warm weather helps Atlanta, but playing across the country on the road hurts Seattle more. The Seahawks have not impressed me this season, despite the fact that they keep winning when it counts. I believe their ‘luck’ runs out versus the Falcons. Give the points and take the better offense at home.
New England Patriots -15.5 vs. Houston Texans
Todd Salem: Oof, this is a lot of points. Most everyone feels as though New England is going to win, but this is essentially three scores. That is a lot to cover in the postseason. I am sticking to my guns of the first round not over-inflating my sense of these remaining teams. Houston, and specifically Brock Osweiler, looked incredibly competent in Round 1, but we know they aren’t, especially Osweiler! It was a case of playing a broken-down and demoralized Oakland club.
The first time Houston played the Patriots, the latter was on their third-string quarterback and still blew away the Texans. Now, it is the postseason. Get out of here, Houston. I’m not even afraid of a backdoor cover with these guys.
Dan Salem: I’ll admit that I’m scared to give up over two touchdowns, but I can’t pick against the Patriots. New England has been unstoppable at home and Houston is a second tier team by comparison. After multiple blowouts in the Wildcard round its likely we have at least one in the Divisional Round. This is the game. The Patriots win big.
Kansas City Chiefs -1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Todd Salem: This game opened with the visiting Steelers as 1.5-point favorites on the road. The line has since matriculated across even, now favoring Kansas City, as it should. I will continue on that trend and throw another pick the Chiefs’ way. This team is incredibly sound in all facets, outside of rush defense. It also has the best special teams of any team in the playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger was seen in a walking boot following Pittsburgh’s first game. He says he is going to play, but being in a walking boot certainly isn’t good news. Neither is the record Andy Reid has following bye weeks over the course of his career. The man can prepare a game plan.
Dan Salem: Our picks are falling into alignment with one another, as I’m on the Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon as well. As I wrote yesterday, the Steelers took advantage of a weak Miami secondary in the Wild Card Round. Now with the injury to Big Ben and against a formidable Chiefs team on the road, I am not confident in Pittsburgh. I am confident in Kansas City at home. They have gotten better and better as the season went on. Don’t expect things to change.
Green Bay Packers +4 at Dallas Cowboys
Todd Salem: I think Green Bay could absolutely win outright in this game. I foresee a shootout with neither defense stopping the opposing offense much. Jordy Nelson is questionable with broken ribs, but Rodgers didn’t even need him to shred apart the New York Giants top defense last week. Why would Dallas pose any obstruction? Having more than a field-goal cushion makes me even more comfortable taking the road team.
Dan Salem: The only team that truly impressed me in the Wild Card round was Green Bay, so I refuse to pick against the Packers. They are hotter than hot and four points is a lot in what is sure to be a close football game. Take the points because Green Bay will score on Dallas. Perhaps the Cowboys can hold on to the victory at home, but they are not covering this spread.