In case you didn’t know, two underdogs in Pittsburgh and Green Bay won respective matches in the divisional round of the playoffs. Any chance of that happening again in the conference championship round? Let’s break down the two games below.
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NFL Conference Championship Sleeper Picks
Is there anything Aaron Rodgers can’t do on the football field? With all the exceptional things Rodgers have done to carry the Packers into the playoffs and to lead the team past the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys so far in the postseason, it’d take a significant amount of courage to bet against this dude. To refresh how terrifyingly good Rodgers current run is, just remember that the Packers’ quarterback has 21 touchdowns with only one interception in the past eight games.
And up against the Falcons’ defense that doesn’t really scare anyone, let alone a peak Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay should be fine engaging Matt Ryan and company in a shootout. After all, the Packers’ themselves aren’t that good of a defensive team, as shown in the divisional round, where they squandered a 28-13 lead before Rodgers and Crosby weaved their end-game magic. That said, the Packers finished the regular season eighth in run defense, which should serve as a warning for Atlanta’s backfield duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Writer’s Prediction: Green Bay (+4.5) wins, 35-32
Sure, the Patriots defeated Houston 34-16 in the divisional round, but those who saw the game would say it wasn’t as convincing of a win as a the score suggests. Brady threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns but also had two interceptions.
The Texans are not the Steelers, who are definitely better, especially on defense, than Houston. Instead of facing a waste-of-money quarterback in Brock Osweiler, the Pats are going to face Ben Roethlisberger, who wasn’t around when the Pats beat Pittsburgh back in Week 7, 27-16. The absence of Big Ben in that game gives the Steelers at least a marginal element of surprise coming into this Sunday’s contest.
With Roethlisberger back, the Patriots will have to worry more of the Steelers’ passing attack instead of ganging up on Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers’ pass rush is also going to be critical for the Steelers. Houston had success bothering Tom Brady in the pocket last week.
Writer’s Prediction: New England (-4.5) wins, 31-24.
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