Saturday’s Divisional Round Outlook

Posted: January 11, 2014 in NFL
Tags: , , , , , ,

By Jesse Granger and W.G. Ramirez

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks (-8)

Two teams with something to prove will take the field Saturday in Seattle, one looking for revenge from a 34-7 loss last month, the other looking to inch closer to the Super Bowl as the NFC’s top seed. The Seahawks knocked off the Saints in dominating fashion in December, and forced the Saints into a pressing situation right through Week 17. The Seahawks have won and covered five of their last seven against the Saints, who have failed to cover their last four when catching +8 or more points.

JESSE’S TAKE – You won’t hear a single analyst break this game down without getting Seattle’s home field advantage crammed down your throat.  And as impressive as the Seahawks have been in front of the 12th man, they aren’t unbeatable – just ask Arizona. Drew Brees got the monkey off his back with the road playoff win in Philadelphia last week, and will be looking for revenge Saturday.  Seattle’s passing attack has looked abysmal down the stretch, averaging 171 yards per game in the last 4, and I think Brees plays well.  I’m taking over a touchdown with the Saints.

WILLIE’S TAKE – I’m not sure if it’s safe to assume Seattle really is unbeatable at home, or if the Saints are dangerous enough to use their high-octane offense to pull off the upset. Truth is told, the best thing about both these teams this year has been their defensive units. New Orleans ranked fourth overall with its stop unit this season, while Seattle comes in with the No. 1 defense in the league. And if either team is going to do anything significant to get the win today, it’ll be with their rushing games, looking to keep the ball out of the other team’s hands and control the clock effectively. Skip the side here and play this one under.

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots (-7)

Two comeback specialists lead their teams on to the field for the AFC Divisional Round in New England on Saturday, as the Patriots’ Tom Brady has led his team back to 41 wins in games in which they trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. Luck has already done it 11 times, the most by a quarterback in his first two seasons since 1970, including last week’s comeback against Kansas City. The Colts have covered four of their last five trips to New England.

JESSIE’S TAKE – How you feel about this game could depend on how you view the Colts historic comeback a week ago. Did that game drain the Colts of every ounce of energy in them, or will momentum carry them through the divisional round? Gillette Stadium in January is known as one of the scariest things in sports, but that’s a misconception.  The Patriots are only 2-6 against the spread in their last eight home playoff games. While I do see Tom Brady pulling this game out at the wire, I don’t think New England wins by seven without Gronkowski. The Colts +7 look like the right play in what should be a nail-biter.

WILLIE’S TAKE – It’s too easy to think Indianapolis would let down in this game, after coming back from a 31-point, third-quarter deficit last week. Then again, it’s also a simple slice to taste, in knowing the Colts are good enough to go into Foxboro and steal one. I just have to wonder if anyone is taking into consideration the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts last season, when Luck threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. I know both teams have made key changes since then, and Luck looks much better this season, but this is still Belichick and Brady. And New England has covered five of its last six as a home chalk. I’m playing the favorite, and would advise anyone doing so to buy the half point down.

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