2010 Weekly Predictions: Divisional Round

January 14th, 2011 - 12:33 pm

It was a tale of two different days for me in last week’s wild card action. I missed both straight-up predictions as well as the picks against the spread in Saturday’s two games, but nailed all the picks on Sunday to finish 2-2 straight up and 2-2 against the spread. If not for bad kick coverage by the Indianapolis Colts’ kickoff team, I would have had a better mark, but oh well. And with that, both of last year’s Super Bowl participants were ousted from the playoffs. This week’s divisional round action features regular season rematches in all four games.

Point spreads come from Vegas.com as of Friday afternoon.

Last Week: 2-2
Last Week against the spread: 2-2

This Week: 3-1
This Week against the spread: 3-1

Overall: 176-88
Overall against the spread: 147-110-5

Baltimore Ravens (13-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
This game features an always-exciting matchup between division rivals. The last four games between these teams have been decided by a field goal. The Steelers had the bye week to rest and get healthy and I think that’s a major advantage. Troy Polamalu is probable on the injury report with an ankle injury and he holds the keys to victory for the Steelers. I think it’ll be another close game with the home team churning out the victory.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 17
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 24
Spread Pick: Baltimore +3 1/2
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 24

Green Bay Packers (11-6) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
With all due respect to the Atlanta Falcons, who have been playing lights out at home during the Matt Ryan era, the Green Bay Packers are playing the best football of any team in the league outside the New England Patriots. I think playing inside on turf only enhances the Packers’ wide-open offense and it’ll showcase their passing ability led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It should be a fun game to watch between Ryan and Rodgers, but I think the Packers get the job done on the road for the second straight week.
Prediction: Green Bay 24, Atlanta 23
Actual Score: Green Bay 48, Atlanta 21
Spread Pick: Green Bay +2 1/2
Actual Score: Green Bay 48, Atlanta 21

Seattle Seahawks (8-9) at Chicago Bears (11-5)
The Bears have been licking their chops about this rematch since the Oct. 17 game in which the Seahawks upset them, 23-20. So much has happened since then, including the Bears settling on a starting five on the offensive line, Mike Martz learning to incorporate Matt Forte more into the game plan, and the defense steadily improving throughout the year. I said recently that that first game was an aberration and that if the Bears and Seahawks played today, the Bears would pound them by two touchdowns. While I’m not 100% confident in that assessment after I saw the Seahawks defeat the Saints, I still think it’ll be a comfortable Bears win.
Prediction: Chicago 27, Seattle 13
Actual Score: Chicago 35, Seattle 24
Spread Pick: Chicago -10
Actual Score: Chicago 35, Seattle 24

New York Jets (12-5) at New England Patriots (14-2)
The Jets beat the Patriots, 28-14, in Week 2 of the season and the Patriots later pounded the Jets, 45-3, in Week 13. Now comes the rubber match between the teams, but I’m more inclined to think that the first contest between the teams happened before the Patriots figured things out. New England is the best team in the league and they’ll prove it against a Jets offense led by a good running game and a bad quarterback.
Prediction: New England 24, NY Jets 20
Actual Score: NY Jets 28, New England 21
Spread Pick: NY Jets +9
Actual Score: NY Jets 28, New England 21