Lines Accurate as of Wednesday 9:00PM EST*
Seattle Seahawks (+5) @ Atlanta Falcons
Niko: In a higher stakes rematch of the wild 26-24 Seattle win over two months ago, I see the far more playoff-tested ‘Hawks taking care of business again. They’ll win the turnover differential (again), and Russell Wilson will make the big throws when they matter most. Seahawks and the points on the road.
Pete: This should be a great game. The Seahawks have not been the same team since losing Earl Thomas, who was arguably their best player on defense, but Seattle is still Seattle. They turn it on in the playoffs and play a tough brand of football. On the flip side, the Falcons play like a college team, slinging the football all over the field and playing little-to-no defense. When it comes to offense vs. defense, I will always roll with the defense. Seattle in a close one.
Jordan: Hard to believe this Seahawks team actually strolled into Foxboro and won just a month or so ago. Ever since the drastic injuries to Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks just look a little off. Now they did beat an overrated Lions team last week in Seattle, but now they have to go to Atlanta and beat a high-powered Falcons offense, led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan. Given the fact that the Hawks are missing Thomas, I say the Falcons cover and head to the NFC Championship.
Houston Texans (+16) @ New England Patriots
Niko: This spread is just absurd. It’s almost un-bettable. Almost. Pats cover at home. More on this coming in the Roundtable piece later in the week.
Pete: I want to say the Texans will cover the spread, but I just don't see how Houston will be able to come into the House of Horrors and defeat arguably the best team in the NFL. Patriots.
Jordan: There's a reason the Pats are so heavily favored... I'll give you a hint: it has a little to do with the fact that the Pats beat Houston 27-0 with Jacoby Brissett at QB. Pats roll.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Niko: Very interesting game. Neutral field, I think the Steelers are the better football team, thanks to their far more explosive offense. That being said, this showdown is at Arrowhead, which is an extremely tough place to play. I’ll go with the Chiefs by a field goal. See you at Gillette next weekend.
Pete: Is it just me, or do the Sunday games seem absurdly awesome? Steelers vs. Chiefs? Are you kidding me? Again, offense vs. defense. I think the Steelers would be a better matchup for the Patriots, because of the simple fact that the Patriots, specifically Tom Brady, would be able to pick apart this Pittsburgh defense. That being said, I think the Chiefs take this one. There is just no way the Steelers can go to Arrowhead and slow down this Kansas City defense.
Jordan: Me being the constant divide in many sports arguments, I see the 2 gents above me pick the Chiefs. I don't see that happening. I was watching First Take a while back, and Stephen A. Smith said that Alex Smith doesn't kill his team, but also not the opponent. Now the fact that Smith doesn't kill his team is good, but the issue is he doesn't kill his opponent. The Chiefs need Smith to man up and be willing to make mistakes. Don't be careless, but take risks. I don't see that happening. Plus, it's really hard to bet against a Steelers team that has been playing really well as of late, and has their 3 biggest weapons on offense healthy. Steelers vs. Pats in the AFC title game.
Green Bay Packers (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys
Niko: I think people are really overlooking the Jordy Nelson injury. Even if he does suit up (unlikely), he’ll be extremely limited. Rodgers has been otherworldly over the last few months, but he could quickly come back to earth without his top target. Because of this, I don’t think GB will be able to keep pace with these Cowboys at Jerry-World. ‘Boys cover.
Pete: I wholeheartedly agree with Niko. Jordy Nelson has been Aaron Rodgers' binky ever since he returned from his season-ending injury last year. Without Nelson, Rodgers is a very ordinary quarterback. That being said, Rodgers is playing some of the best football you will see by a human being. However, the Cowboys are simply a better football team from top to bottom. Have to take the complete team here.
Jordan: I'd love to pick Rodgers and the Packers, because honestly the Pats and Packers in the Super Bowl would be a fantastic matchup. However, I don't see that happening. The Packers have Jordy Nelson already out, and now Geronimo Allison was arrested the other day for possession of marijuana. Now I don't think Allison is going to miss the game or anything, just giving an example of a distraction. Cowboys are healthier. It'll be a great game no doubt, but I see Zeke Elliott putting up a late TD to decide it. Cowboys cover.