Flanny’s Picks: Will there be a road warrior?

By Jeffrey Flanagan
January 14, 2011

Last week�s record straight up: 2-2
Season record straight up: 160-100

Last week vs. the spread: 2-2
Season vs. the spread: 129-125-6

Ravens (+3) at Steelers

Two teams that are virtually mirror images of each other � physical, tough-minded, impossible to intimidate. The quarterback edge goes to the Steelers � Big Ben can escape pressure more easily and is more accurate. The Ravens� Joe Flacco was extremely efficient against the Chiefs last week, and his checkdown passes to his running backs and square-outs to tight end Todd Heap kept the offense churning. The Steelers� defense is better prepared to defend that. The running game edge goes to the Ravens � if Ray Rice can keep the chains moving, Flacco will feel much more comfortable finding his physical receivers for key gains. The Steelers are well-rested and have the home-field edge, but there�s something about this Ravens team that makes you believe.

Ravens 16, Steelers 14

Packers (+2.5) at Falcons

The Falcons are the most balanced team in the NFC � they can beat you with the running game, Matt Ryan�s accurate passing game, defense, special teams, whatever. And by now you�ve probably heard the stat about Ryan at home � he�s 20-2. But the Packers, depleted as they are by injuries, won�t be a pushover. They almost beat them in the regular season, losing by a field goal in the dome. The big play was an Aaron Rodgers fumble at the Atlanta 1. The Packers may have a secret weapon in rookie running back James Starks, who finally gives the Packers something they haven�t had all season � a threat in the backfield. This one should be fun and the Packers, like the Ravens, might be a team of destiny.

Packers 31, Falcons 28

Seahawks (+10) at Bears

The Seahawks pulled off one of the biggest upsets in playoff history by stunning the Super Bowl champion Saints at home last week. But that was at home. It�ll be a different tale this week when Seattle plays at Soldier Field against a Bears defense that isn�t likely to allow Marshawn Lynch to break eight tackles on one play. The Bears are likely to stuff the Seahawks� offense, force several turnovers, and make this one a rout. Jay Cutler is finally coming into his own and he�s headed for the NFC title game.

Bears 31, Seahawks 9

Jets (+8.5) at Patriots

We all remember the last meeting between these two teams in Foxboro � a 45-3 pasting delivered by Tom Brady and Co. Though the Patriots are clearly better than the Jets (and maybe the Patriots are the best in football right now), I don�t see another blowout. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said his troops got hit by the perfect storm in the blowout loss � Sanchez misfired on some early passes, Brady was perfect, and the Jets were forced out of their grind-it-out, slow-the-pace game plan. This one will be closer but the Patriots are likely just too good.

Patriots 28, Jets 20