Lines Accurate as of Wednesday 7:00AM EST*
Green Bay Packers (+4.5) @ Atlanta Falcons
Niko: Not a bad way to get the day going, huh? The Falcons are fresh off humiliating the championship pedigree Seahawks, and the Packers usurping the #1 seeded Cowboys. The quarterbacks are playing at a ridiculous level, and the points should be racking up all afternoon long. As good as Atlanta has been, you’re telling me Aaron Rodgers is getting points in this one? I’ve got the roll with the underdog Pack. Let’s give the people what they want, a Brady/Rodgers winner takes all in Houston. I’ll take Brady, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Matt N: The Packers have to be the hottest team in the NFL right now. After starting 4-6, the Pack have run the table winning 8 straight games, including a come from behind win against the Cowboys to advance to the championship game. There is not a single other quarterback on the planet that could've made the throw to Randall Cobb. Atlanta is another high octane offense, but I think the Packers are just too hot right now. Both teams defenses are not great and will both be exposed. Expect a shootout in Atlanta with the Packers advancing to Youston.
Pete: This is a very tough pick for me. The Packers are probably the hottest team in the NFL, but they struggled at times against the Dallas Cowboys and should have probably lost that game. Aaron Rodgers came back to earth and we saw the Green Bay defense fail to stop Dak Prescott and company. Furthermore, the Packers have a multitude of injuries that are simply too much to overcome, in my opinion. Like I have mentioned before, most Patriots fans have not seen much of the Atlanta Falcons, but everyone on the face of the planet would rather face Matt Ryan than Aaron Rodgers. Purely from a Patriots perspective, I will roll with the Falcons.
Jordan: Obviously as a Patriots fan, Rodgers and the Packers frighten me. Rodgers is playing in another universe right now, and really bodes a problem for a pretty week Falcons secondary. However, the Packers O-Line is banged up, as David Bahktari got hurt in the Dallas game, and against a pretty solid Falcons pass-rush, that could spell trouble for Rodgers and co. This is playing right in the Falcons hands, as the Packers secondary is unbelievably thin. Julio Jones is going to be all over this game, as wellas Devonta Freeman in the passing game. I'll roll with the Falcons in an absolute slugfest.
Kaley: The Pack are on an absolute tear, and they're showing no mercy. Rodgers is playing out of his mind, but showed that he was in fact human against that Dallas defense last week. As for Atlanta, I guess it's time to start taking them seriously. I tried to avoid them all season long, but here they are in the NFC Championship Game. Ryan is, as well, playing out of his mind and actually has a solid O around him. All of that being said, I imagine a shootout to the very end in this one. Green Bay are pretty banged up across the board, though, which could absolutely help Atlanta in many ways. Neither defense in this particular match are anything to write home about, further more ensuing a back and forth for probably the full sixty minutes. In the end, I'm taking the Packers to come out victorious. I can't pick against Rodgers in this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) @ New England Patriots
Niko: Playing about as poor a game as we’ve seen this season, the Pats managed to still cover a ridiculous 16 point spread last weekend against the one of the best defenses in football. Yet, all we keep hearing this week, whether local media trolling (Ben Volin, Dan Shaughnessy, Ron Borges) or national media bias/hatred, how beatable the Pats look. Pitt didn’t exactly light the world on fire last weekend either, failing to find pay dirt against the Chiefs yet they’re the hot pick. Pats cover. Let’s go back. More on this in the Roundtable coming this weekend.
Matt N: Tom Brady has looked horrible in his last two playoff games which has sparked rumblings about whether this Sunday could be Brady's last game as a Patriot (Lol). Brady and the Pats are gonna come out Sunday night fired up and are gonna lay it on the Steelers. The Steelers could not find the end zone against Kansas City on Sunday and the underrated Patriots D will do their jobs on Sunday. Patriots also shut down the Steelers running game thus controlling the flow of the game. Pats by 10.
Pete: Ultimately, I believe the winner of this game will win the Super Bowl. Unlike the teams in the NFC, the AFC features two days that have competent defenses. The Steelers have a good group of linebackers that can get to the quarterback, while the Patriots feature the best scoring defense in the NFL. The key to this game, from a Patriots perspective, is to contain Le'Veon Bell and make Ben Roethlisberger uncomfortable in the pocket. Big Ben is not the same quarterback he was a few years ago and can barely move around with the amount of lower body injuries he has had. On the flip side, the Steelers need to mirror what the Houston Texans did last week and put pressure on Tom Brady through the A and B gap, rather than coming from the edge. This should be a great game, but I can't bet against Tom Brady in late January in Foxboro. Patriots cover.
Jordan: When I look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, I see a team 3 of the best players at their respective positions: Ben, Brown, and Bell. And on the defensive side of the ball, they've got a couple names that stick out like James Harrison and Ryan Shazier. But the Steelers defense lacks game changers, meaning the Patriots offense should be able to have a much better showing this week than at Houston last week. I see Brady "protecting his job" and dominating much of this game, especially the second half. I could see him throwing for 350+ and 3 TDs en route to a Pats victory.
Kaley: This is a great matchup and it'll be another close one. The Pats are pissed about their performance versus Houston last weekend, and I expect them to play angry. Plus, the Patriots just do not lose at home in the playoffs. It's as simple as that. New England are healthy, too, making things much easier on everyone involved. This is the ultimate test for this Patriots D, though, but I expect them to prevail. It's going to be damn hard to stop all three of Big Ben, Bell, and Brown, but I think they'll do a better job of that than many people think. The Steelers will put up a fight with those three and their hard-nose defense, but they scored all of their 18 points in last week's win via the field goal. That is not happening in Foxboro under any circumstances. Brady and company advance to Houston by at least a touchdown.