Atlanta and New England host Sunday’s pair of divisional NFL betting playoff games. The Falcons are under enormous pressure to finally win a playoff game while New England is a massive favorite to advance.
NFC Divisional Playoff Game
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
Odds: Atlanta -3
In the least talked about game of the weekend, Atlanta fans will have their hearts in their throats hoping Matt Ryan and the Falcons can finally get over the hump and get that first playoff win against perhaps the hottest team in the NFC. After falling behind 14-0 at Washington, Seattle shut down the Washington Redskins, coming back to win, 24-14. Behind one of the top defenses in football and a dominant secondary, the Seahawks’ corners will look to continue their success against Julio Jones and Roddy White. The key for Atlanta may actually be getting Michael Turner and the run game going early to open up play-action and several timely shots down the field.
For Seattle, Russell Wilson answered the challenge in his first road playoff game and now goes to Atlanta to try and take down the top seed in the NFC. Seattle will feature a healthy dose of Marshawn Lynch, looking to shorten the game and limit the number of scores the Seahawks will need from their young quarterback. Expect a low scoring affair decided by turnovers, but Atlanta will victimize Wilson, a rookie who might not be ready for the pressure of this moment.
Pick: Atlanta -3
AFC Divisional Playoff Game
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
Odds: New England -10
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub helped Houston to attain an 11-1 record through week 13 on Dec. 2. The veteran had seemingly come into his own in 2012. He missed the 2011 playoffs due to an injury, so this was his big chance to seize the spotlight, and with Houston at 11-1, it appeared that the Texans were going to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. However, Schaub – who may be more injured than the Texans will publicly acknowledge – has lost a lot of zip on his passes. He is not throwing the deep ball well, and as a result, Houston’s offense has become much easier to defend.
The larger reality enfolding this game is that Houston has to make a lot of high-impact plays just to stay close. The Texans have to gain turnovers and make this game an ugly one for spectators to watch. New England quarterback Tom Brady will win most games that are aesthetically pleasing.
If Brady is at his best, the Texans simply won’t be able to keep pace with the Patriots. Brady was superb in the Dec. 10 meeting between these teams, riddling Houston’s secondary for 296 passing yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. New England won 42-14 in a game that wasn’t even all that close. Houston has to play lights-out on defense, and it has not been doing that over the course of the past month. New England should dominate this football betting matchup from start to finish.
Pick: New England -10