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ATL@PHI - Atlanta's defense played great last week, but I still don't really buy them as a Super Bowl team. They remind me of the good Chargers teams of the last 15 years - lots of talent, nice looking stats, but don't fully pass the eye test. I think its a completely different game last week if you take away the Pharaoh Cooper fumbles. It forced the Rams to play from behind and somewhat abandon the run game, something they hadn't had to do all year. I have to imagine that we'd see a similar line to last week if Carson Wentz were healthy, so at +3 we're basically seeing a 9 point adjustment for Nick Foles. Foles was awful in that Raiders game, but I'm not ready to call this a Rodgers to Hundley drop off - I'd say there's more like a 5-6 point difference from him to Wentz. This line should be more like Eagles -1 so I'm taking the points.
TEN@NE - I would need 20 points to bet Mularkey over Belichick in the playoffs.
JAX@PIT - The best bet in this game is to take whoever is winning at halftime to win/cover. If the Steelers get behind, that pass rush will tee off on Roethlisberger and force turnovers like they did in the first matchup. If the Jags get behind we'll see a Bortles meltdown. I'm taking Jags +7.5 because that's too many points to give an elite defense in January.
NO@MIN - We have the dreaded "Public Dog" with the Saints in this game. Maybe that's the trend Skolman was referring to? I've heard multiple people make the case that the Saints actually have an advantage in this game because its being played in doors. Maybe that was true in 2009. The opposite may be true in 2018. The Saints are built on great line play on both sides of the ball, a good running game, and short passes. The Vikings have more team speed and the better downfield passing threats. Oh yeah, this stadium is going to be loud as hell too. I think the Vikings win, possibly in a blowout.
Skolman: I’m ready to fire on the divisional round!
ATL @ PHI - I’m going to contradict myself from just a week ago. I said I thought ATL had a chance to beat the Rams and chutes and ladders right to the NFC Championship Game. I didn’t expect the dirty bird love-fest that followed the Rams playing kind of sloppy and Atl taking advantage. It was a nice win but let’s calm down with the overreaction. One of my favorite things to bet in the playoffs is the better scoring defense getting points...ATL (19.3), PHI (18.4) and ATL on the road (21.6) and Phi at home (13.4). I’m happy with 3 and hoping for the craze to get it to 3.5.
TEN @ NE - I want to keep an eye on the weather (I heard rain) but I won’t be getting cute here. A bad pass defense against Tom Brady I think the Pats will take care of business.
JAX @ PIT - After that display by the Jaguars last week I wouldn’t blame anyone for swearing off JAX. I’m a weird way Buffalo was a tough opponent because they don’t do anything on offense. This is another time where I’ll take the points with the better scoring defense JAX (15.9), PIT (19.2)...Jax on the road (15.4), PIT at home (23.4). I’ll the offense take care of itself...PIT has been thinned by injuries...if another guy or two goes down in game Fournette could get the job done.
NO @ MIN - I’m very happy to report that my favorite NFL playoff trend (don’t worry about the details...it’s very good though) is in play in this game and it’s a green light on betting the Vikes!
Aside from that, it is crazy to me that this Minnesota team is being ignored. I heard a Philly sports reporter getting interviewed about this week’s game and he mentioned that of the Eagles get past the Falcons he likes their chances against the Saints. What?! Just crazy talk. If you told me the line was going to be 3.5-4 for this game, I would have said the Saints beat the Panthers by 18-24 points. What actually happened is that they barely beat the Panthers at home! And oh by the way, lost one of their best O-lineman in the process. And the unstoppable running game was very stoppable. So a beat up O-line and a bad defense traveling to one of the best defenses and best home fields in the league. I think I’d want more than 4 points. Drew Brees may get hurt in this one...and the Vikings may cover the Patriots spread.
**Additional prediction is that if the games happen to go as I suggested...the Vikings won’t even be as big of a favorite at Philly next week as the Falcons are**. That screams crazy to me.