Divisional Round Predictions

Updated: January 12th 2018

Well, the underdogs were the story of last week, covering all four games, and winning two of them outright with the Titans pulling off a miracle at Arrowhead and the Falcons dominating the Rams. All in all, the games were highly entertaining save for the Jags/Bills game which was one of the worst games in the history of football in my unfettered hyperbolic opinion. Here is how our writers performed last week (only one of us with a winning record ATS ūüôā ):¬†

  1. Stephen Wendell: 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 2-2 ML & 2-2 ATS
  3. Bob Cowper: 3-1 ML & 1-3 ATS
  4. Matt Goodwin: 1-3 ML & 1-3 ATS 
  5. Nick Andrews: 2-2 ML & 0-4 ATS
  6. Bernard Faller: 2-2 ML & 1-3 ATS 

A quick summary of the picks for this week are below in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles (Line ATL -2.5): ML Р4 ATL & 3 PHI// ATS Р3 ATL & 4 PHI
  2. Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (Line NE -13.5): ML Р0 TEN & 7 NE // ATS Р3 TEN & 4 NE
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Line PIT -7.5): ML Р1 JAX & 6 PIT // ATS Р4 JAX & 3 PIT
  4. New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings (Line MIN -4.5): ML Р4 NO & 3 MIN // ATS Р7 NO & 0 MIN

#6 Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) [Line: ATL -2.5]

Stephen Wendell: As a Birds fan, I am very nervous, but I think Foles and the defense do enough to get this one done, narrowly escaping defeat and setting up an exciting NFC Championship game at home hosting the Vikings featuring two backup quarterbacks!  Projected Score: Eagles 28 РFalcons 27.

Matt Papson: It’s a Falcons line but I can’t bring myself to pick against the Birds. It’s a home game. Nick Foles is capable of putting together two good games, which is enough to get them to the super bowl. Will he? I’ll bet on at least 1. Projected Score: Eagles 24 РFalcons 23.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Eagles 25 РFalcons 19.

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score: Falcons 23 РEagles 20.

Nick Andrews: The Eagles have been sliding down the power rankings ever since Carson Wentz was lost for the season. In their final three games, the Eagles looked on par with the 3-13 Giants and 6-10 Raiders and then were shutout by the Cowboys in week 17. There’s a reason why this will be the first time since the playoffs expanded that the #1 seed is an underdog in the Divisional Round. The Falcons flaunted their playoff experience against the Rams last week by taking the early lead and then holding strong throughout. I expect the same will occur this week. Projected Score: Falcons 27 РEagles 16.

Bernard Faller: Philadelphia was in the conversation for most complete team in the NFL with Carson Wentz at quarterback.¬† ¬†The Eagles dominated in almost every aspect with no weaknesses.¬† Things change in a hurry.¬† Atlanta has not exactly been a ‚Äújuggernaut‚ÄĚ in any area this season but I will take Ryan almost every time in a Ryan vs. Foles matchup.¬† The improving Falcons defense does just enough.¬†Projected Score: Falcons 21 – Eagles 17.

Dave Sanders:¬†While Doug Peterson tries to return Nick Foles to somewhere between competent and his 2014 form, the Atlanta Falcons come to town as -2.5 point road FAVORITES.¬† I’d expect that Ajayi, Blount, and Clement will faced a stacked box as Dan Quinn will force Foles and company to attack their Cover-3 zone scheme, which has been very successful this year.¬† Foles will have to get the ball out quickly to counter Atlanta’s ability to pressure with only four rushers.¬† On the other hand, Atlanta’s offense hasn’t be great this season and likely will continue struggle against a stout Philadelphia defense.¬† All of that said, give me Ryan over Foles in a playoff game.¬† It’s as simple as that.¬† I’ll take Atlanta and lay the 2.5 points.¬†Projected Score: Falcons 20 – Eagles 13.

#5 Tennessee Titans (9-7) @ #1 New England Patriots (13-3) [Line: NE -13.5]

Stephen Wendell: The Titans cover but in a backdoor fashion. They will not compete on the road in one of the toughest places to win in January. Brady and a healthy Gronk dominate this game from start to finish. Projected Score: Patriots 27 РTitans 14.

Matt Papson: All the drama surrounding the Pats isn’t nearly enough to create a chance they lose this one. Projected Score: Patriots 45 РTitans 13.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Patriots 33 РTitans 10.

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score: Patriots 31 РTitans 10.

Nick Andrews: I called everything but the score in last week’s Titans/Chiefs game. The Chiefs did everything to lose that game by not relying more on Kareem Hunt in the second half. It will be interesting to see what happens to them in the offseason. As for the Titans current matchup, the Patriots are the opposite of the Chiefs in terms of offering opportunities to come back from a multi-score deficit. There are only two outcomes that this game can have. Either the Patriots are distracted from last week’s media storm and allow the Titans to pull out another sneaky win or they use the distraction as fuel to throttle the Titans out of playoffs. I expect the latter. Projected Score: Patriots 27 РTitans 12.

Bernard Faller: The Titans move on to the second round after a historic collapse by the Kansas City Chiefs last week.  New England’s defense, one of the worst in the league this year, is certainly exploitable especially against the run.  That won’t matter as Tom Brady brutalizes the Tennessee defense.  The Kansas City offense forgot to play the second half last week.  New England’s will not.  Projected Score: Patriots 34 РTitans 24.

Dave Sanders:¬†Give me Tennessee and the 13.5 points.¬† This isn’t about the drama between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft, which I believe to be overstated.¬† It’s simply too many points for New England to be laying against anyone in the divisional round.¬† Mariota and Henry should be able to do just enough to cover, while still losing a close game to the Pats.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 34 – Titans 24.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) @ #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) [Line: PIT -7.5]

Stephen Wendell: Blake Bortles is awful, plain and simple. Big Ben threw 5 INTs, 2 of them were run back, and the Jags still only scored 30 points in the Week 5 defeat of the Steelers. Big Ben will protect the ball this time around and the Steelers offense will score enough to overcome a very very weak Jags offense. Projected Score: Steelers 24 РJaguars 10. 

Matt Papson: Despite last week’s abysmal performance I think this is going to be closer than people are expecting.. Projected Score: Steelers 31 РJaguars 27.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Steelers 16 РJaguars 9 

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score; Steelers 16 РJaguars 10

Nick Andrews: Antonio Brown is expected to be back but how healthy will he be? These two teams met up in week 5 when Big Ben had five interceptions and the Jags got a rare win at Heinz Field. While I don‚Äôt think there will be five interceptions again I do suspect that the result will repeat itself. The Jags defense has shown that they can cover the best receivers in the league and can also get to the quarterback. Bortles was rather lackluster against the Bills but he surprisingly did enough on the ground to get a win last week. His performance will likely be the difference between a victory and defeat.¬†¬†Projected Score: Jaguars 19 ‚Äď Steelers 17.

Bernard Faller: The Jaguars won an ugly contest in the wild card game against Buffalo featuring one of the worst cumulative performances by opposing quarterbacks in playoff history.¬† Jacksonville‚Äôs defense might be the best in the league and could keep the game close.¬† The Jaguars beat the Steelers earlier this season with a historically bad five interception game from likely future hall of famer Ben Roethlisberger.¬† It will not happen again.¬† One can not trust Blake Bortles against Ben Roethlisberger in a playoff matchup. ¬†Projected Score:¬† Steelers 24 ‚Äď Jaguars 13.

Dave Sanders:¬†I can’t wait to watch the Steelers offense vs. the Jacksonville defense.¬† It’s the head-to-head matchup I’m most looking forward to watching, most especially if Antonio Brown has fully recovered from injury.¬† In what may become a defensive grind, I’ll take Jacksonville and the 7.5 points.¬†Projected Score:¬† Steelers 23 ‚Äď Jaguars 16.

#4 New Orleans Saints (11-5) @ #2 Minnesota Vikings (13-3) [Line: MIN -4.5]

Stephen Wendell: Man this is the toughest game to predict of the weekend. I think the Vikings put together a FG drive late to win 17-16 and inch out the Saints, putting them one win in Philly away from hosting the Super Bowl! Projected Score: Vikings 17 РSaints 16.

Matt Papson: The Vikings have a more feasible path to a home super bowl than any team in recent memory. Case Keenum isn’t as good as Drew Brees, but the Vikings offense has been consistent and Pat Shurmur is going to put his mark on his final few games with the team Projected Score: Vikings 31 РSaints 27.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Vikings 24 РSaints 23.

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score: Saints 24 РVikings 20.

Nick Andrews: This is another regular season rematch but unlike my Jags prediction, I think this one will be a different outcome. In week 1 the Saints were trying to figure out what to do with Adrian Peterson, had yet to discover the awesome power of Alvin Kamara, and faced Sam Bradford instead of Case Keenum at QB. Marshon Lattimore has also developed into a shutdown corner which will limit the big plays of Stefon Diggs. If the Saints offense can continue to both stretch the field with Brees, Thomas and Ginn Jr. as well as pound the ball with Ingram and Kamara I see the Saints hosting the NFC Championship game next week. Projected Score: Saints 20 РVikings 17.

Bernard Faller: This game is the highlight of the playoff weekend.  Two of the best overall teams in the league face off for the second time this season.  The Vikings won the first matchup on the strength of a 347 yard, 3 touchdown game by Sam Bradford.  Both teams are good on each side of the ball but the highlight will be two top-rated units squaring off in the New Orleans offense against the Minnesota defense.  In a common theme for my picks, I pick the team with the proven quarterback in Drew Brees going against playoff first-timer Case Keenum. Projected Score: Saints 24 РVikings 20.

Dave Sanders:¬†In what most are calling the game of the week, New Orleans travels to Minnesota in a showcase of two of the best QBs in 2017‚Ķ.Drew Brees (makes sense) and Case Keenum (wait what?).¬† It’s true.¬†¬†Maybe it’s the 2,500 virtual reality reps¬†or just distance from Jeff Fisher, but Keenum has turned himself into a very good quarterback.¬† I still have this feeling in the back of my mind that he’s going to sink the Vikings with a dud of a game at some point.¬† I’ll bet on it being this game as Kamara, Ingram, Brees, and Thomas may be too much for the Vikings regardless. Give me the Saints and the 4.5 points.¬†Projected Score:¬†Saints 24 – Vikings 23.

Super Bowl Predictions

Updated: July 16th 2017

Well, those two Conference Championship games were complete duds. The Falcons and Patriots dominated from the start in each game, controlling both sides of the ball, and winning with ease. While Brady and Ryan have both appeared dominant this season, the similarities stop there with respect to this Super Bowl. Matt Ryan will be playing in his first Super Bowl game, having failed to reach the big game during his previous four trips to the playoffs. While Ryan has made five playoff appearances (certainly nothing to sneeze at for the 9th year veteran), Brady will be searching for his 5th Super Bowl victory in his 7th trip to the big game, an astonishing achievement. Irrespective of what happens in this game, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the GOAT, but if Brady is able to persevere in what will have to be a solid performance given the potency of the Falcons’ offense, he will leave no doubt. What do our writers think? Each dissects the game and gives you his prediction below. In case you are tracking at home and/or relying on a particular writer for betting purposes today, here are the writers’ records throughout the playoffs (in order of ML picking performance).

  1. Bernard Faller: Last Week 2-0 ML & 1-0-1 ATS; Playoffs 9-1 ML & 5-3-2 ATS
  2. Matt Goodwin: Last Week 1-1 ML & 1-1 ATS; Playoffs 8-2 ML & 6-3-1
  3. Luke O’Connell: Last Week 1-1 ML & 1-1 ATS; Playoffs 8-2 ML & 6-4 ATS
  4. Stephen Wendell: Last Week 1-1 ML & 1-1 ATS; Playoffs 7-3 ML & 7-3 ATS
  5. Nick Andrews: Last Week 2-0 ML & 1-1 ATS; Playoffs 7-3 ML & 6-4 ATS
  6. Kyle English: Last Week 1-1 ML & 0-2 ATS; Playoffs 7-3 ML & 4-6 ATS
  7. Dave Sanders: Last Week 1-1 ML & 1-0-1 ATS; Playoffs 6-4 ML & 6-3-1 ATS
  8. Matt Papson: Last Week 1-1 ML & 0-2 ATS; Playoffs 6-4 ML & 5-5 ATS
  9. Robert Cowper: Last Week 0-2 ML & 0-2 ATS; Playoffs 5-5 ML & 4-6 ATS

Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots [Line: Patriots -3]

Stephen Wendell: I don’t have much to add than what I alluded to in the introduction above. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense have been incredible, and I don’t think they choke in this Super Bowl. Rather, I think Belichick figures a way to slow them down, the Pats get an opportune turnover as they usually do, and Brady plays flawless football en route to a Patriots victory and Brady’s 5th Super Bowl Championship.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 27 – Falcons 21.

Matt Papson:¬†The greatest coach ever vs. a great coach.¬†The greatest quarterback ever vs. a great quarterback.¬†The greatest offensive coordinator ever vs. a great offensive coordinator.¬†Kyle Shanahan has gotten the most of some average & slightly above average NFL quarterbacks.¬†Brian Griese, Chris Simms, Matt Schaub, RG3, Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer (there was an aging Donovan McNabb in there too). Matt Ryan was the first great quarterback he got to work with, and they’ve been great together. While there’s no doubt Shanahan is thoroughly prepared for this game and wants desperately to win, he’s also the current head coach of another NFL football team (the 49ers). That’s kind of a weird dynamic to balance while preparing for and calling the biggest game of his life. Plus, the opponent isn’t exactly a pushover.¬†Bill & Tom are unanimously considered among the best ever — here and there somebody will have one or the other second or third on their “list”, but nobody with an opinion worth listening to has them outside the top 3. The appearance in this game should cement them at the top, but a win would leave no doubt.¬†Everybody cites the 4 rings, but what’s crazy is just how good Brady has been after his first 3 Super Bowl victories. If you only took his career since 2005 (most of which coincides with Josh McDaniels as OC), Brady would STILL be in the discussion for greatest ever, and maybe even considered it.¬†Since 2005 (not including ’08; injured), he’s won 134 of 172 games, completed 64.5% of his passes, and averaged 33 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He’s made 11 playoff appearances (every season), appeared in 8 conference championships, 4 Super Bowls, and he’s won at least one Super Bowl, maybe two.¬†That is an absolutely insane career in an of itself. I can’t root against greatness, and I certainly won’t bet against it.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 27 – Falcons 23.

Kyle English: I believe the Falcons can put up points against the Pats with their offense so I think this game comes down to how well the Falcons defense plays. ¬†They’ll need to generate a pass rush on Tom Brady without sending the house and they’ll need to win (or at least tie)¬†the turnover battle. ¬†I would love to see Matt Ryan win the big one¬†and will be cheering hard for the Falcons, but I don’t believe¬†their defense will do enough for him. Pats win yet another one…¬†Projected Score: Patriots 34 – Falcons 28.

Robert Cowper: The Patriots of recent memory certainly know how to win Super Bowls – more importantly they know how to keep those games close.¬† In the six Super Bowls the Pats have played in since 2002, the scoring margin was a combined 20 points.¬† If the game turns into a shootout I don’t believe Brady & Co can keep up with the stable of playmakers the Falcons have on offense so I think we are going to see Patriot game planning at its best.¬† We’ll see a heavy dose of Blount and I would take him as my MVP pick at¬†+2000 odds and hope for one of his signature three 1-yard TD games.¬† I think it will be a typical Patriots Super Bowl, about 40 total points and comes down to a Gostkowski field goal.¬† Given how well my predictions have gone so far this playoff season, we’ll probably see a 45-38 scoreline but I’m going with my gut again.¬†¬†Projected Score: Patriots 22 – Falcons 20.¬†

Matt Goodwin:¬†I’ve had one big miss in a red-hot playoffs and that was in thinking Aaron Rodgers scorching run would continue in Atlanta, who demonstrated to me they have what it takes to be Super Bowl Champions. To me this game is about an opportunistic defense and an offense that RSO player and numberFire Editor Brandon Gdula wrote about this week as¬†historic. In my mind, that all starts with the free-agent signing of center Alex Mack from the Cleveland Browns. Mack, who was¬†Pro Football Focus’ top run blocker at the position, also anchors a line that gives MVP candidate Matt Ryan all sorts of time to make big plays to many different receiving options, including both playmaking running backs (Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman).¬†While it is hard to go against Tom Brady in his quest for a fifth ring, I just don’t think he has the same support on offense that the Falcons do, especially in a run game that frankly disappointed in its two playoff games. Aside from Dion Lewis’ three touchdowns against the Texans which is really only fantasy relevant, the Patriots yards per carry was atrocious. Without a good ground game, the underrated and opportunistic Atlanta defense (remember head coach Dan Quinn anchored a Super Bowl blowout for Seattle) and Vic Beasley can get pressure on Brady.¬†So while all the intangibles swing towards New England and Brady, in a game to me that feels like a virtual heat, I’ll take Julio Jones to be the difference maker and Matt Ryan to get MVP honors in a Falcons win.¬†Projected Score: Falcons 30 – Patriots 27.¬†

Nick Andrews:¬†The Big Game. The Show. Whatever you call it this matchup was surprisingly not the one that people realized they wanted until it happened. If you are a Patriots fan you want to see Brady get his 5th¬†title to confirm his G.O.A.T. status. For everyone else sick of them you are hitching your wagon to ‚Äúanybody else‚ÄĚ which is played by a young, exciting Atlanta team. While most people have this game being a high scoring, back and forth affair (O/U at 59) Super Bowls generally are not. Looking back at the last two #1 scoring offenses to play in the Super Bowl the 2013 Denver Broncos scored eight points and the 2007 Patriots scored seventeen. Good games just don‚Äôt feature score after score, blowouts do. These two defensive-minded head coaches are too good to not have a game plan that revolves around feeling out what the other is doing in the first half and adjusting for the second half. Similar to their meeting two years ago when Quinn was a coordinator for the Seahawks. That game finished 28-24 which should be the template for predicting this game.¬†Projected Score: Patriots¬†24 – Falcons 20.¬†**Bonus MVP Prediction** Julian Edelman 120 yards, 2 TDs.¬†

Dave Sanders:¬†Could this be one of the highest scoring Super Bowl’s ever?¬† Vegas thinks so with an over/under of 59 (as of Thursday), which will be the highest Vegas has ever projected in Super Bowl history if it stays over 57.¬† We all know that the big game features two of the league’s top offenses, but Tony Khan (@tonyrkhan on Instagram) shared several stats that truly quantify what we’re seeing: 1) Both teams rank among the top three teams in offensive line stability (% of snaps taken by the same players). This speaks to the importance of continuity among the offensive line and that both lines are fairly healthy. 2) The teams also rank 1st and 2nd in QBR, Passer Rating, TD/INT, and YAC/Completion, which makes sense with Ryan and Brady playing possibly the best football of their careers.¬†It’s never smart to bet against Brady in the postseason.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 37 – Falcons 27. ¬†

Bernard Faller: This should be a fun one. ¬†There is no dominating defense in the Super Bowl for the first time in years. ¬†Instead we have what many would consider the top two offenses in the NFL. ¬†The key to this game is if the young Atlanta secondary will avoid the big mistakes that leave receivers wide open for Tom Brady to take advantage of. ¬†The Patriot defense largely avoided these types of blunders this year. ¬†They won‚Äôt stop the vaunted Falcons offense but do just enough to make them work for their points.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 34 ‚Äď Falcons 31.

Luke O’Connell: Dante drops one of the most famous lines in all of literature at the start of arguably the greatest epic poem ever written: ‚ÄúMidway upon the journey of our life/I found myself within a forest dark,/For the straightforward pathway had been lost.‚ÄĚ ¬†(Inferno, Canto I, 1-3). ¬†The straightforward path is precisely my point of concern after attempting to analyze the Falcons‚Äô chances against the Patriots. ¬†If the Falcons lose, it will be largely because of the interior line play of the New England Patriots. ¬† ¬†After PFF sorted them near the bottom of the league last season (25th) they have ascended from the inferno with Dante Scarnecchia, their offensive line coach. ¬†The bright lights will shine on the usual names, but if you don‚Äôt hear the names Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Shaquille Mason then you can be sure the Falcons have not beaten the Patriot‚Äôs guards and center with interior pressure. ¬†No straight path to Brady means Atlanta will find all is lost. RSO Angle: ¬†Who will be the more expensive contract/trade commodity between Dion Lewis and Tevin Coleman? ¬†Both men will not be able to hide talent or usage on the biggest stage.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 30 – Falcons 27.¬†

AFC/NFC Championship Predictions

Updated: July 16th 2017

Overall, a great weekend of games last week. As many analysts and writers have commented, the cream of the QB crop rose to the top last weekend with Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger all advancing.¬†¬†The Dallas/Green Bay playoff game was as entertaining a playoff football game as you can imagine, and I have no doubt that this week’s game will be equally as thrilling. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan were 1-2 in QB fantasy scoring this season, so it may come down to the defense that is able to cause a couple turnovers or for more red zone field goals this week. As for the Steelers and the Patriots, this is certainly not new territory for either team, as it will mark the Steelers 15th trip to this game since it started in 1970, the Patriots 12th trip overall and 11th in the Brady era (6 in a row), and it will be the third time that Big Ben and Brady have squared off with the Super Bowl on the line (Brady has won both previous meetings). As with the prior two weeks, the RSO Writers have dissected both games, and in case you are tracking at home, here are the results of each writer’s picks from last week and through the playoffs:

  1. Stephen Wendell: Last Week 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS; Playoffs 6-2 ML & 6-2 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: Last Week 2-2 ML & 3-1 ATS; Playoffs 5-3 ML & 5-3 ATS
  3. Kyle English: Last Week 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS; Playoffs 6-2 ML & 4-4 ATS
  4. Robert Cowper: Last Week 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS; Playoffs 5-3 ML & 4-4 ATS
  5. Matt Goodwin: Last Week 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS; Playoffs 7-1 ML & 5-2-1
  6. Nick Andrews: Last Week 2-2 ML & 2-2 ATS; Playoffs 5-3 ML & 5-3 ATS
  7. Dave Sanders: Last Week 2-2 ML & 2-2 ATS; Playoffs 5-3 ML & 5-3 ATS
  8. Bernard Faller: Last Week 4-0 ML & 1-2-1 ATS; Playoffs 7-1 ML & 4-3-1 ATS
  9. Luke O’Connell: Last Week 4-0 ML & 2-2 ATS; Playoffs 7-1 ML & 5-3 ATS

And a quick summary of the picks for this week in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis:

  1. Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons (Line ATL -5.5): ML Р6 GB & 3 ATL // ATS Р7 GB & 2 ATL
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots (Line NE -5.5): ML Р2 PIT & 7 NE // ATS Р4 PIT & 3 NE & 2 PUSH

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons [Line: Atlanta -5]

Stephen Wendell: I have been on Rodgers and the Packers since I witnessed their beatdown of the Eagles on MNF which started the streak. I said last week Packers-Patriots in the Super Bowl, so I will stick with that prediction this week. The Packers in a shootout. Projected Score: Packers 34 РFalcons 31.

Matt Papson: Aaron Rodgers. Projected Score: Packers 34 РFalcons 27.

Kyle English: Packers come in as probably the hottest team in the NFL and meet the Falcons who have rather quietly won 5 in a row.  The Packers are dealing with all sorts of injuries to their WR corps but with Rodgers at the helm they can still put up plenty of points.  The Packers though are vulnerable against the pass as Prescott showed last week posting over 300 yards (which he only did twice all season) and 3 TDs.  Matt Ryan and the Falcons excel through the air so I expect a lot of offense in this one.  Think the Falcons win a close one. Projected Score: Falcons 34 РPackers 31.

Robert Cowper:¬†I’m having trouble getting into this game if I’m being honest.¬† It should prove to be a high scoring affair, which will be exciting, but the Falcons just don’t do it for me.¬† I picked against them last week because I don’t trust Matt Ryan and I will do so again this week.¬† It’s a shame for Aaron Rodgers that the MVP award voting is held before the playoffs begin because I bet if voting were held today that he would win in a landslide.¬† His streak without throwing an interception has now ended (after 8 games) but the numbers are still astounding.¬† In two playoff games against the Giants and Cowboys, Rodgers has 717 yards, 6 TDs and 1 INT.¬† I will continue to pick Rodgers and the Packers until they prove me otherwise. Projected Score: Packers 41 – Falcons 24.¬†

Matt Goodwin:¬†By reading my articles, you know that I love hip-hop. This game is a lot like one of my favorites-“Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest. The first scenario is a red-hot Aaron Rodgers carrying his team in a shootout to the Super Bowl in spite of a lackluster Packers defense and receivers who aren’t 100%. This scenario includes at least one of Davante Adams or Jordy Nelson playing in the game and Ty Montgomery having success against the Falcons who give up lots of receptions to running backs. I do expect Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, and Taylor Gabriel to have big games and the big-play ability of Tevin Coleman could come into play in this game too. The Packers are a few years from Julio Jones torching them for over 200 yards, but Jones is clearly not 100%, so I’m not expecting a go-off game to that magnitude. The second scenario (let’s call it the remix) involves a game similar to last season’s loss at the Arizona Cardinals where Jeff Janis pulled a Hail Mary down to send the game to overtime, but Rodgers’ incredible effort fell just short because Matt Ryan is equally hot and at home.¬†Projected Score: Packers¬†38 – Falcons 33 (if Adams and/or Nelson play) & Falcons 33 – Packers 24 (without Adams and Nelson).

Nick Andrews: Two weeks in a row I bet against Aaron Rodgers; two weeks in a row I have been wrong. But like any good gambler knows you should never chase the results. Where people saw brilliance by Rodgers I saw a glaring weakness from the Packers’ defense. At 21-3 and 28-13 they should have been able to salt the game away. Instead, their defense allowed scoring drive after scoring drive to bring Dallas back, twice! Atlanta put a clinic on Seattle right from the start and they did not take their foot off the gas. Forget third down conversions this game will likely come down to scoring drive conversions. In the end though I see Atlanta’s OC Kyle Shannahan being aggressive and sticking to their game plan which is where Scott Linehan failed. Projected Score: Falcons 44 РPackers 34.

Dave Sanders: Another week ‚Äď another remarkable performance by Aaron Rodgers.¬† Though I don‚Äôt have a rooting interest in any of the four remaining teams, I hope that GB runs the table so that the ‚ÄúJared Cook Catch‚ÄĚ becomes a part of history. ¬†¬†Moments like that, and much of the fourth quarter for that matter, remind us of how great football is at its very best.¬† Atlanta also did not disappoint last week, beating Seattle 36-20 in a game that wasn‚Äôt as close as the score might indicate.¬† Matt Ryan continued his impressive play, even without Julio Jones for much of the game.¬† Julio‚Äôs expected to play this weekend and should have plenty of success if he‚Äôs anywhere near 100%.¬† There‚Äôs less certainty with Packers WR Jordy Nelson, who called his broken ribs the worst pain he‚Äôs ever felt.¬† Nelson is hopeful to play, but it will likely come down to a game-time decision.¬† Unaffected by wintry weather conditions in the dome, expect this game to be a shootout.¬†Projected Score: Packers 37 – Falcons 34. ¬†

Bernard Faller:¬†Who needs defense? You will not see many scoreless drives in this game. The Packers have not scored less than 30 points in a game since the beginning of December. The biggest unit mis-match of the entire playoffs occurs in this contest with the vaunted Falcon passing attack, averaging an NFL-best 9.2 Yards Per Attempt, taking on a decimated Green Bay secondary giving up an NFL-worst 8.1 YPA. With most Packer receivers on the injury report, Green Bay is just too beat up to compete with Atlanta this week. Projected Score: Atlanta 38 ‚Äď Green Bay 28.

Luke O’Connell:¬†Why have the gods of the gridiron opened an absurdly large salt shaker into the wounds of Vikings fanatics?¬†¬† Aaron Rodgers seemingly won‚Äôt be denied in this playoff run.¬†¬† No father, no brother, no mercy, it is like the opening of cheese-laden post-apocalyptic Western.¬† Jordy is stepping into the breach with brittle ribs, and joins the Green Bay gang of Montgomery, Adams (who must feel the white-hot glare of the pressure of rising expectations), Cobb, Cook, and a man named Geronimo.¬† As much as it pains me to admit, the Packers just seem to get the gravitas of the moment, and have the hardened constitution of a Midwesterners who know how to endure.¬† Matty Ice and Devonta strike this analyst as players who have reached the heights that their talent and temperament can take them.¬†¬†¬† Julio Jones may be the final Falcon wild card, the game‚Äôs truly transcendent talent beyond Aaron Rodgers, but when gambling on QB vs. WR, the smart money follows the man with the ball.¬†¬† RSO Angle:¬† Freeman might lay to rest the 1 vs 1a talk in the Falcon backfield, and all the receivers in the game not named Julio are prone to massive differences in valuation, making them key offseason pieces in trades. Projected Score: Packers 20 – Falcons 17.¬†

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots [Line: New England -6]

Stephen Wendell: This is super tough for me. I have been on the Steelers since the start of the playoffs, but too much is working against them this week (shorter week, AB video, many players are stick, Foxborough, Belichick, Brady). I think they are able to keep it close, but the Patriots score a late TD to ice it and win by 10. Projected Score: Patriots 31 РSteelers 21.

Matt Papson: Tom Brady. Projected Score: Patriots 27 РSteelers 24. 

Kyle English: The Steelers were able to pull out the road upset against the Chiefs last week while the Pats needed some 4th quarter scores to pull away from the Texans.  The Steelers kept their home regular season matchup against the Pats close despite not having Big Ben on the field.  The Pats showed that they have some holes in their win last week and I think the Steelers have the talent to pull off the upset.  Projected Score: Steelers 27 РPatriots 24.

Robert Cowper:¬†I had a buddy in Vegas last weekend and about an hour before kickoff I asked him to place a parlay on the Pats against the spread with the over.¬† Both hit but sadly he didn’t stumble to the sportsbook in time.¬† I would not place the same bet this week.¬† There’s been a lot of talk this week about the Antonio Brown Facebook Live drama and not too much about the game itself which I think is a mistake because this could be an all-time great game.¬† We know the offenses are good but let’s look at the defenses.¬† Even though the Pats were #1 in scoring defense, I don’t buy that they have an elite defense; the Steelers were #10 in scoring.¬† By total yards they were #8 and #12 respectively.¬† The Pats rushing defense is #4 but I think that is more a factor of opponents playing from behind than a stout front seven, Bell should have success.¬† Keep an eye on Steelers LB Ryan Shazier, one of my favorite players, who has a string of four consecutive games with an INT.¬† He had 3.5 sacks and 87 tackles in just 13 games during the regular season.¬† With the Pats passing attack focused on dink-and-dunk to the RBs and Julian Edelman, I expect Shazier to be involved a lot and to be a difference maker.¬† Steelers win it with a late FG after a key defensive stop. ¬†Projected Score: Steelers 23 – Patriots 21.

Matt Goodwin:While it wouldn’t surprise me to see a Steelers win, the Patriots have not allowed 90 yards rushing to an opposing running back for 24 straight games. With Le’Veon Bell likely neutralized on the ground to some degree and Ben Roethlisberger’s road splits being well documented, the Steelers will have to come up with a lock-down defensive performance to win at Gillette Stadium. I think the Patriots ground game with Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount will be heavy utilized here and that Tom Brady and Julian Edelman will connect several times. The Patriots way is to take away your biggest strength and I see that as the Steelers ground game. For those reasons in a game where field goal kicking may come in big with two phenomenal kickers and based on the Patriots track record in home AFC Championship games, give me the Patriots.¬†Projected Score:¬†Patriots¬†27 – Steelers 20.

Nick Andrews: Sometimes it’s just better to be lucky than good. The Patriots easily played their worst game of the season last week and still managed to win their divisional round game. A game that they won by 18 points felt like a lost to many of the players. Bill Belichick likely is none too pleased with how his players and staff performed so don’t expect a second egg to be laid this week. The Steelers showed that they can be contained in last week’s game scoring all 18 points on field goals and provided some easy bulletin board material for the Patriots from AB’s NSFW locker room video. Le’veon Bell says this is a statement game to avenge their early season loss but I think this is a bigger statement game for the Patriots to prove that last week was a fluke. Projected Score: Patriots 27 РSteelers 23.

Dave Sanders: Had the Texans had better quarterback play, they may have had a real shot to beat the Patriots last weekend.  Brock Osweiler was dreadful again, throwing 3 interceptions and passing for less than 200 yards on 40 attempts.  The Patriots survived a game in which Brady threw as many INTs (2) as he did for the entire regular season.  Brady will need play better this weekend as the Steelers travel to Foxboro and I expect he will.  This feels like the right spot for the weekly reminder of Ben’s home/road splits.  There are too many stats to list here, but simply put: he’s elite at home and well below-average on the road.  Credit to JJ Zachariason @LateRoundQB on Twitter for the following stat: Bell has averaged 146.5 rushing yards per game in his last 8 games vs. 72 per game in his first 6 games of the season.  The Steelers will continue to ride Bell, but I don’t think it will be enough.  Projected Score: Patriots 27 РSteelers 21.

Bernard Faller:¬†Pittsburgh owns all the tools to win with Roethlisberger, Brown, Bell, one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, and an improving defense. ¬†None of that matters. ¬†The only relevant point is the Steelers facing Brady and Belichick in Foxboro. ¬†No need to over think this one. ¬†Projected Score: ¬†New England 30 ‚Äď Pittsburgh 24.

Luke O’Connell:¬†Fun fact apropros of‚Ķsomething.¬†¬† Boston is not the sole city that can claim to a history-making anti-tax tantrum. ¬† While Bostonians were up in arms about tea, Pittsburghers, or rather villagers and farmers over Fort Pitt threw down over some Federal overreach in possibly the best named fight short of Star Wars-the Whiskey rebellion.¬†¬† This prediction need not be overly complicated.¬† When sifting through potential matchups, and tension between offensive predictors vs. the Steelers defensive base sets, it grew increasingly evident that the question in this contest has more to do with an age old adage about the size of dogs and fights. ¬†Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le‚ÄôVeon Bell are formidable, but Belichick is going to take one of those two men away from the love triangle, leaving Big Ben and one buddy to fend off Brady and his island of misfit toys.¬† This one seems historic, and so we turn to history.¬† Bostonians eventually won their rebellion, at least Pittsburghers still have their whiskey. RSO angle: Who will get a bigger per-season contract next year: Dion Lewis or LeGarrette Blount? Projected Score: Patriots 24 – Steelers 17.

 

ENJOY THE GAMES EVERYONE!

Divisional Weekend Predictions

Updated: July 16th 2017

Well, last week went pretty much as the experts expected with all favorites/home teams prevailing, and only the Giants/Packers game was even close, which is really funny to type since it ended up being the largest margin of victory of any of the games with the Packers winning by 25. I have a feeling this week is going to be much different with significantly closer games save the Texans-Pats game, which is shaping up to be a pre-season warm-up game for New England ahead of the AFC Championship game next week. The RSO Writers have dissected each game again this week below, but in case you are tracking at home, here are the results of each writer’s picks from last week:

  1. Stephen Wendell: 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 3-1 ML & 2-2 ATS
  3. Kyle English: 3-1 ML & 1-3 ATS
  4. Robert Cowper: 2-2 ML & 1-3 ATS
  5. Matt Goodwin: 4-0 ML & 2-1-1 ATS
  6. Nick Andrews: 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS
  7. Dave Sanders: 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS
  8. Bernard Faller: 4-0 ML & 1-2-1 ATS
  9. Luke O’Connell: 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS

A quick summary of the picks for this week in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but, just as last week, you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons (Line ATL -5): ML Р4 SEA & 5 ATL // ATS Р6 SEA & 3 ATL
  2. Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (Line NE -15): ML Р0 HOU & 9 NE // ATS Р1 HOU & 8 NE
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (Line KC -1.5): ML Р4 PIT & 5 KC // ATS Р5 PIT & 4 NE
  4. Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys (Line DAL -4.5): ML РGB 7 & DAL 2 // ATS Р8 GB & 1 DAL

#3 Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1) @ #2 Atlanta Falcons (11-5) [Line: Atlanta -5]

Stephen Wendell: Matty Ice has had another great year and when clicking, the Falcons’ offense is explosive. Seattle looked as solid as ever last week against the Lions, and one should never discount their winning experience this time of the year. This is a rematch of the 2012 Divisional Round game between these two teams that ended with a game winning FG by Matt Bryant…if you remember, the Falcons came out of the gates strong and lost the lead only to win on the last second kick by Bryant. I think Carroll will have his troops ready early and not let the game get away from them, and ultimately, I think Atlanta’s questionable defense lets them down and the Hawks prevail. ¬†Projected Score: Seahawks¬†28 – Falcons 24.

Matt Papson: I can’t believe the Seahawks are +5 point underdogs. The NFC isn’t particularly strong this year, and this might be as good an opportunity as Matt Ryan gets in his career to win it all. But, even with the Seahawks traveling across the country, I see them showing up in a big way. I’m expecting Seattle to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl for the third time¬†in four years.¬†¬†Projected Score: Seahawks 31¬†– Falcons 28.

Kyle English:  Seahawks got the job done at home against the Lions, but face a much tougher test against the Falcons in Atlanta.  The Falcons do a lot of damage through the air, and against the Seahawks banged up secondary they could have plenty of success.  The Seahawks won their regular season match-up back in week 6 at home 26-24, but I think the Falcons get their revenge.  Projected Score: Falcons 31 РSeahawks 24.

Robert Cowper: I know that the Falcons come into this game at 11-5 and with Matt Ryan as a viable MVP candidate but I’m just not buying it.¬† These two teams, and quarterbacks, matched up after the 2012 season in a similar situation: Seahawks coming off a double-digit Wildcard round win while the Falcons were sitting idle with a bye.¬† The Falcons got out to a 20-0 lead at halftime only to see the Seahawks storm back but ultimately come up short; the Falcons kicked a FG with 0:08 left to win 30-28.¬† Wilson was a rookie then and is now an experienced Super Bowl winning QB, he’s left Ryan in the dust and I expect the Seahawks to do the same to the Falcons.¬†Projected Score: Seahawks¬†23 – Falcons 15.

Matt Goodwin:¬†As I wrote in¬†this article, the way to beat the Seahawks defense these days is to attack them deep. The Lions didn’t take any shots, but I’m sure Kyle Shanahan’s high-powered Falcons offense will be in attack mode from the opening play (assuming that his job interviews were not a distraction-I hate that playoff coaches have to take time away to interview and wish the NFL would regulate a process to fix this). Richard Sherman showed no ability to cover Julio Jones in the first matchup (seven catches for 139 yards and a touchdown on nine targets) and they now have big play receiver Taylor Gabriel to challenge the Seahawks safeties deep.¬†I liked how the Seahawks fed Thomas Rawls against the Lions, all while not using a single read-option play with Russell Wilson. To keep the ball away from the Falcons, the ‘Hawks will have to rely again on the run game, but this time with Wilson as well. They have fared very poorly on the road this season (3-4-1) with their only quality win being over the New England Patriots. Atlanta has just too much on offense (including in the backfield) and enough opportunistic playmakers on defense to rattle the Seahawks offensive line.¬†Projected Score:¬†Falcons¬†31 – Seahawks¬†20.

Nick Andrews: One bird is getting kicked out of the nest and it might not be the one you expect. While Seattle looked tremendous in their Wildcard game Matt Ryan and Co. are not the cowardly Lions. If it wasn’t for a questionable no call pass interference in their week 6 game the Falcons could already have one victory over the Seahawks this season. Not having to worry about the 12th man and playing on the fast track should be the right combination for the Falcons to advance to the NFC Championship game as it was in 2012. Projected Score: Falcons 31 РSeahawks 27.

Dave Sanders: The Divisional Round kicks-off with a really intriguing match-up in the Georgia Dome.¬† Though Seattle’s defense held the Lions without a touchdown last week, I wouldn’t expect that to continue against the Falcons as Atlanta finished the season ranked No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ Offensive DVOA.¬† Scoring points shouldn’t be a problem for Atlanta.¬† Limiting Seattle, without Desmond Trufant, may be an issue. Trufant frequently lined up opposite of Baldwin during their regular season meeting, limiting Baldwin to 31 yards on 4 receptions.¬† Thomas Rawls regained 2015 form a week ago vs. the Lions, rushing for 161 yards on 27 carries.¬† If Seattle’s running game can continue to be productive in Atlanta, certainly no easy task, I’d expect the Seahawks to top the Falcons in what could be a thrilling final game in the Georgia Dome.¬†Projected Score: Seahawks 34 – Falcons 31. ¬†

Bernard Faller:¬†Atlanta scored a ridiculous 540 points this season, almost 100 more than 2nd highest scorer New England, led by MVP favorite Matt Ryan. The Falcons run game provides nice balance to the passing game with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Seattle won the first matchup at home 26-24. I expect the Falcons to even the season series in Atlanta against a beat up Seattle team. Projected Score: Falcons¬†31 ‚Äď Seahawks 24.

Luke O’Connell:¬†What have we here? Two important facts heading into this game:¬† Pro Football Focus dropped a scathing last place finish on the Seahawks offensive line, and the performance of the Seahawks defense in the second half of the season showed a markedly better team against the run than the pass as the pass rushing numbers declined, the tackles for loss improved nearly 2 per game:

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 12.44.17 PM

This funhouse mirror into Seattle’s defensive prowess starts piling a mound of chips on Matt Ryan’s shoulders.  Carroll’s company should be able to diminish Freeman and Coleman.   The Falcon QB was one missed defensive pass interference call away from beating Seattle in the last contest.  It will be up to him to dig deeper than his last performance against the Seahawks where he threw for three touchdowns, but posted his lowest depth of target all year apart from the Cardinals tilt. RSO Angle:  With everything on the line watch carry/target distribution in the Falcon backfield and target distribution among Seahawk pass catchers.  Paul Richardson may make himself fantasy relevant, or be a highlight-reel hero that you can force another owner to burn salary on.  Projected Score: Falcons 17- Seahawks 13. 

#4 Houston Texans (9-7) @ #1 New England Patriots (14-2) [Line: New England -15]

Stephen Wendell: Really not much to say here. Yes, Houston has a great defense, but they will miss J.J. Watt in this game because it takes a phenomenal defense working at 100% of its potential to stop Mr. Brady and Mr. Belichick in January in Foxboro. Pats win big en route to an AFC Championship showdown with Big Ben and the Steelers for the third time. Projected Score: Patriots 28 РTexans 12.

Matt Papson: Even if the Texans defense is able to keep the Patriots offense in check, I can’t see the Texans moving the ball effectively against the Patriots. I’m rolling with the underdogs in the NFC…but you won’t see me out on a limb in this one, which is the largest spread in a playoff game since 1999 (According to Pro Football Reference). Projected Score: Patriots¬†28 – Texans 10.¬†

Kyle English: We all know what happens here.  The Pats blew them out in Week 3 27-0 and nothing has changed since then. Patriots win big! Projected Score: Patriots 31 РTexans 6.

Robert Cowper: This game will be the proverbial train wreck that you can’t look away from.¬† The spread is huge but may not be big enough.¬† Picking the Patriots to win is no “prediction” it’s more like a foregone conclusion.¬† Instead, I’ll make this prediction: Jimmy Garoppolo gets 6+ passing attempts.¬† I think it will be enough of a blowout to pull Brady and Belichick will want to remind teams like the Cleveland Browns why they should be making trade offers for him.¬†Projected Score: Patriots¬†38 – Texans 19.

Matt Goodwin:¬†Facing Tom Brady on the road instead of Connor Cook at home. The folks in Vegas may be generous with a 16 point spread in this game because the Texans couldn’t beat the Patriots when Jacoby Brissett was under center. To me, the only interesting sidebar in this game is whether the Patriots get their points in the passing game or the run game. I expect LeGarrette Blount to score at least once, and probably twice and am guessing that Brock Osweiler throws a pick-six in this game as well.¬†Projected Score:¬†Patriots¬†38 – Texans 16.

Nick Andrews: The first betting line I saw on twitter had this game at Patriots -17. Talk about disrespecting a team that won a playoff game and has been a consistent tenant of the tournament over the last half decade. Okay have I given them enough credit to not come off as snide? Good. Yes, the defense has been one of the best in recent weeks but they don’t have enough pieces to stop everything that Belichick-McDaniels-Brady can throw at them. There will be constant double teams and chips on Clowney and the Pats defense will hold them below average offense to minimal points. The Texans only chance is to be creative with their play calling and aggressive with every opportunity they get over midfield. Projected Score: Patriots 34 РTexans 14.

Dave Sanders: Did anyone enjoy last weekend more than Brock Osweiler?¬† It was an impressive performance that, frankly, I didn’t see coming.¬† With that said, one solid outing doesn’t erase a disappointing season that including a benching in favor of Tom Savage.¬† The Texans are more than two touchdown dogs heading to Foxborough in what should be the ugliest game of the weekend.¬† If you aren’t able to be locked into EVERY game this weekend, do what you can to make this the game you skip.¬† From the Patriots side, the only question is at what point will the Patriots rest Tom Brady. Bet on¬†Jimmy Garoppolo handling most of the 4th quarter.¬†Projected Score: Patriots 38 – Texans 17.

Bernard Faller: This might be the largest contrast in quarterback play ever to appear in a divisional playoff game with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and 2016‚Äôs worst QB Brock Osweiler. New England won easily in the first matchup with a 3rd string quarterback shutting out the Texans 27-0. Look for more of the same here. Projected Score: Patriots¬†31 ‚Äď Texans 10.

Luke O’Connell:¬†Bill O‚ÄôBrien has exactly one shot in this game.¬† He has to rain down wrath upon Brady to an uncivil degree, blitzes and inside pressure, violence to a degree that is uncomfortable to watch. ¬†¬†It is hard conceive of a world in which Brady finishes the game and loses to Brock Osweiler.¬†¬† Men like Jadaveon Clowney get paid to live in the minds of even great ones like Brady, but short of a nationwide-panic inducing Clowney sighting, this should play out comfortably for Patriot nation. ¬†Projected Score: Patriots 30-Texans 17.

#3 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) @ #2 Kansas City Chiefs  [Line: Kansas City -1.5]

Stephen Wendell: I love the three Bs playing together. They look incredible and are certainly built to play in all types of weather. I don’t think they will be as affected by the elements as others have been traveling to Arrowhead, and ultimately, despite the inspired play by the Chiefs this year and the exciting emergence of Tyreek Hill as a TD threat every time he touches the football, I think the Steelers find a way to win a really tough, hard-fought road playoff game.¬†Projected Score: Steelers 24 – Chiefs 21.¬†

Matt Papson: The Chiefs just seem to find a way to win. The Chiefs home field advantage is one of the most underrated in sports. I expect this game to be very, very close, but I’m rooting for Big Red, so I give the Chiefs the edge. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Steelers blew out the Chiefs, either.¬†¬†Projected Score:¬†Chiefs¬†28 – Steelers¬†27.

Kyle English:¬†The Chiefs were the first ones to face Bell this season in Pittsburgh¬†back in week 4, and the Steelers promptly destroyed the Chiefs 43-14. ¬†Now they will be playing in Arrowhead with that raucous crowd behind their Chiefs. ¬†I think they make a difference…but not enough of one. ¬†The three headed monster of Big¬†Ben, Bell, and Brown are just playing too well right now. Steelers win a close one.¬†Projected Score: Steelers 27 – Dolphins 23.¬†

Robert Cowper: I went against the Steelers last week and won’t make that mistake again.¬† I’m a Le’veon Bell owner in two leagues so I should not have been surprised by his output against the Dolphins but I was. ¬†31 touches, 174 yards, 2 TDs.¬† The Chiefs are #21 in yards allowed per rush and #26 in total rushing yards, both worse than Miami.¬† It should be another heavy dose of Bell, especially if Roethlisberger is at all hobbled by his injury.¬† I am looking forward to see how the Chiefs deploy Tyreek Hill after having two weeks to game plan.¬† He’s a dynamic, multi-faceted player and a potential game breaker on any play (3 rushing TDs, 6 receiving TDs, 2 punt return TDs and 1 kickoff return TD).¬†Projected Score: Steelers¬†17 – Chiefs¬†14.

Matt Goodwin: This is a rematch of an early season matchup where the Steelers obliterated the Chiefs at Heinz Field. We as fantasy owners all know the narrative of Ben Roethlisberger’s home vs. road splits and add in an ankle injury and this looks like some potential questionable weather may be sprinkled in. I feel this is a grind it out type game where Kansas City’s solid defense holds Le’Veon Bell in check enough to win this game closely.¬†Projected Score:¬†Chiefs¬†16 – Steelers 13.

Nick Andrews: Strength on strength in this matchup with a lot of focus being on the Killers B’s of Pittsburgh. But this game is in KC and the narrative of Roethlisberger’s home/road split is well documented. The Chiefs offense has also been more of a threat with the emergence of Tyreek Hill. Expect this one to be a classic AFC smash mouth game. It’ll be cold, it’ll be low(er) scoring and it will likely come down to the wire. Maybe a late turnover decides the game? Projected Score: Chiefs 24 РSteelers 21.

Dave Sanders: You’re fooling yourself if you believe that their Week 4 meeting offers any predictive value this week.¬† In early October, the Chiefs caught the Steelers at home, coming off an embarrassing 31 point loss to the Eagles led by rookie QB Carson Wentz.¬† The situation is quite different this time around as Pittsburgh has to travel to Kansas City to take on Andy Reid’s team refresh off a first-round bye.¬† As we all know by know, Ben Roethlisberger’s home/road splits are alarming to say the least.¬† While I believe Le’Veon Bell to be the best running back in the league, Pittsburgh will need an above average game from Roethlisberger to pull off the upset at Arrowhead.¬† Let’s not forget that Kansas City finished the season strong winning 10 of their last 12 games.¬† At home and led by their strong defense, I believe Kansas City will be able to score points to hold off Pittsburgh.¬†Projected Score: Chiefs 21 – Steelers¬†17.

Bernard Faller:¬†Pittsburgh absolutely demolished the Chiefs 43-14 in the first game between these two on the strength of five touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisburger. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, this game is in Kansas City. ‚ÄúBig Ben‚ÄĚ has been awful on the road in recent years, basically transforming into Blake Bortles away from Heinz Field. Kansas City utilizes the electric Tyreek Hill in a number of ways on special teams and offense. Watch for a big play from him changing the game. Projected Score: ¬†Chiefs 24 ‚Äď Steelers 21.

Luke O’Connell:¬†This game feels like the moment a fuse is lit on a marginally legal firecracker.¬†¬† Something is going to explode, the risk is greater than the reward, and when the smoke clears we are going to be left shaking our heads at how it all plays out.¬†¬† In a just world Big Ben and Tyreek Hill are human beings that deserve a fate far different than the praise and adulation and wealth heaped on NFL stars. ¬†One of the two might be responsible for his team‚Äôs victory and the deeper they move in the playoffs the more we have to cringe and stare at the residue on all our hands. ¬†It will probably be the best game of the week, but it needs to be said, if Ray Rice (correctly) is without a job, any man that lays hands on a woman, much less one who is 8 months pregnant, needs to be off our reality and fantasy teams. ¬†RSO Angle:¬† Ware is a polarizing back, he is just the kind of moveable piece that should intrigue dynasty GMs.¬† Pitt‚Äôs stars are locked and loaded, but Ladarius Green offers worlds of intrigue if he can recover from the concussion.¬†Projected Score: Steelers 28 – Chiefs 14.

#4 Green Bay Packers (10-6) @ #1 Dallas Cowboys  [Line: Dallas -4.5]

Stephen Wendell: Wow what a game this one should be. Dak and Zeke make their playoff debuts after a near flawless rookie season by both players. But Aaron Rodgers is as on point as he has ever been in his career. He seems poised for another Super Bowl run, and I simply don’t see him being denied this week. Dak and Zeke will play well, but their inexperience and the pressure of the moment will rear its ugly head at some point in the game, costing the Cowboys the game.¬†Projected Score:¬†Packers 28 – Cowboys 24.

Matt Papson: The Cowboys, top to bottom, are better than the Packers. Long before the 2016 season, I thought Dak Prescott would be a strong pro Quarterback. This is going to be the first of many playoff games for him. But, I feel obligated to go with the Packers because of one Aaron Charles Rodgers. Projected Score: Packers 35 РCowboys 31.

Kyle English: The Packers roll into Dallas on a 7 game win streak, but got banged up quite a bit against the Giants last week, particularly Jordy. ¬†Even if he’s able to go, you have to assume at this point he won’t be 100% which is awful news for Packers fans. ¬†The Cowboys already went into Lambeau and won back in week 6 which is not an easy thing to do. ¬†Unless Rodgers has a few more successful Hail Marys up his sleeve, I don’t think the Packers have what it takes to continue their season. Projected Score: Cowboys 31 – Packers 20.¬†

Robert Cowper: In this space last week, I said that as a Cowboys fan I feared the Packers the most.¬† After Green Bay’s trouncing of the Giants, I am even more worried.¬† It’s tough to find stats that back-up what my heart is rooting for.¬† The Green Bay defense is strongest against the run and weakest against the pass; the Cowboys defense is strongest against the run (gave up the fewest rushing yards in the league) but weaker against the pass.¬† Both are opposite what you were hoping for as a Cowboys fan.¬† The Cowboys only hope is if DE David Irving continues to create havoc and force Rodgers out of the pocket consistently. ¬†Projected Score: Packers 29 – Cowboys 28.

Matt Goodwin:¬†I’m very much looking forward to this game. Can Aaron Rodgers remain on fire? Can Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott continue to show they’ve moved beyond their rookie season on the field? There are so many storylines in this game, one I don’t believe Jordy Nelson will be available for. Look for Dallas to continue to pound the ball and run clock to attempt to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands.¬†My gut tells me that Dallas has the better team, but I can’t pick against Rodgers when he’s this hot.¬†Projected Score: Packers 27 – Cowboys 23.

Nick Andrews:¬†To paraphrase Mugatu from Zoolander, ‚ÄúThat [Aaron Rodgers] is so hot right now‚ÄĚ. I thought that the Giants‚Äô defense would be able to control Rodgers. And they did‚Ķ for 28 minutes of the first half. Then Rodgers put the team on his back and made play after play before pulling away by the 4th¬†quarter. If the Cowboys are going to succeed where the Giants failed they need to control the clock, run the ball, and not let Aaron Rodgers on the field. Lucky for them they have one of the best running backs in the league and don‚Äôt make unnecessary mistakes. But if the game comes down to a final drive and each offense has one opportunity to go down the field and score who do you trust more, the Wonder Kid Dak Prescott or the Bad Bad Man Aaron Rodgers?¬†Projected Score: Cowboys 38 – Packers 35.

Dave Sanders: Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers.¬† The most hardcore of NFL observers have been subjected to far too much mediocre quarterback play throughout the season.¬† In a league where only have of the teams have competent options, we’re privileged to watch one of the all-time greats each and every week.¬† Doubt entered the minds of some after a slow start to 2016, but Rodgers has put together a truly special final three months and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.¬† Though final injury reports are not out yet, it appears the Packers will be without Jordy Nelson this week.¬† Expecting another huge performance from Randall Cobb is probably unreasonable, but Green Bay should feel more confident in his reliability as Aaron Rodgers’ defacto No. 2 target.¬† Expect Dallas to move the ball efficiently on offense against a below-average Packers defense.¬† Attempting to win the time of possession battle and keep Rodgers off the field, I’d expect Dallas to lean heavily on Zeke to the tune of 30 carries.¬† Many factors, including home-field, favor Dallas, but I can’t bet against Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs…especially while he’s on this remarkable run.¬†Projected Score: Packers¬†31 – Cowboys 28.

Bernard Faller:¬†This should be an epic contest. Aaron Rodgers is destroying both good and bad defenses right now in an MVP-type year. Green Bay likely loses star receiver Jordy Nelson in this one, though. I expect many stacked defensive fronts from the Packers in an attempt to limit Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott and force fellow rookie Dak Prescott to win the game. Dallas comes up just short as Rodgers is simply playing too well at this part of the season.¬†Projected Score: ¬†Packers 31 ‚Äď Cowboys 27.

Luke O’Connell:¬†If Dallas loses this game, much will be made of the pressure, rookies, and walls. ¬†Smarter men than most do a good job of debunking the rookie wall narrative.¬† There may be something to be made of what the pressure will do in this game.¬† Dak Prescott and Zeke played in massive college games all year long they have hurdled obstacles in the form of the elite athletes lined up across from them. ¬† In a vacuum it would be hard to bet against their pedigree, their record, and their accomplishments this season.¬†¬† Sometimes the chalk doesn‚Äôt win, however, and Aaron Rodgers seems set to wreak havoc. ¬†RSO Angle:¬† The value fluctuation in Packer Receivers, and clarity on the proper tier and compensation for Dez Bryant.¬†Projected Score: Packers 34 – Cowboys 31.

ENJOY THE GAMES EVERYONE!

RSO Staff Picks: Week 6

Updated: October 15th 2015

thursday-night-football-week-13-saints-at-falcons-large

Week 5 Results

1. English Р11-3 + FantasyDraft Win

2. Wendell Р10-4

3. Goodwin Р9-5

4. Papson Р8-6

Another sweep in Week 5 as Kyle goes 11-3 and had the best of the worst FantasyDraft lineups finishing in a respectable 36th place while Goodwin, Wendell as RSOEXPERT, and Papson finished 46th, 47th and 48th respectively. Pretty bad. Another week where many of you gained free entry into FantasyDraft’s $50,000 Wishbone Contest this week. Kyle will serve as expert this week and is hoping to not let any of you have a free ride next week.

Overall Standings

1. English Р50-27 + 3 fantasy wins (Week 1, 3 & 5)

2. Wendell Р49-28 + 1 fantasy win (Week 4)

3. Goodwin Р47-30 + 1 fantasy win (Week 2)

4. Papson Р43-34

Through 5 weeks, the standings remain unchanged. Kyle holds a slim 1 game lead of Wendell in picks, and with his 3 weekly fantasy wins, he has clearly dominated the internal competition through 5 weeks. See what the guys are thinking will happen in Week 6:

NFL Game Picks

Game Wendell Papson Goodwin English

ATL @ NO

falcons falcons saints falcons

WAS @ NYJ

jets jets jets jets

ARI @ PIT

cardinals steelers steelers cardinals

KC @ MIN

chiefs chiefs vikings vikings

CIN @ BUF

bengals bengals bengals bengals

CHI @ DET

lions lions lions lions

DEN @ CLV

broncos broncos broncos broncos

HOU @ JAX

texans texans jaguars texans

CAR @ SEA

seahawks seahawks seahawks seahawks

SD @ GB

packers packers packers packers

BAL @ SF

ravens ravens ravens 49ers

NE @ IND

patriots patriots patriots patriots

NYG @ PHI

eagles eagles eagles giants

MIA @ TEN

dolphins dolphins titans dolphins

FantasyDraft Lineups

RSO is proud to be partnering this season with FantasyDraft, the official daily fantasy partner of Reality Sports Online. By now, you should know the drill. Here are the contests we have going this week:

  1. Weekly FreeRoll offering $250 in prizes and a free ticket into FantasyDraft’s $50,000 Wishbone Contest next week for anyone who beats the “RSOEXPERT”. There are only¬†50 slots¬†and it is first come first serve, so sign up now!
  2. $10 entry 50/50 Beat the Expert Contest where the top 10 places get $18 in real cash and a $20 entry into the Week 7 $250,000 Run and Gun Contest. There are only 20 slots for this contest, so check it out now!

Here are our lineups for this week (since Kyle won Week 5 he is the RSOEXPERT this week):

Kyle English (RSOEXPERT for Week 6)

Week6DailyKyle

Stephen Wendell

CSW Lineup Week 6

Matt Papson 

Papson Week 6

Matt Goodwin

Goodwin Week 6