Chris Kennedy’s Picks:
Indianapolis Colts +1.5: The Texans have been really tough at home this year, but I can see the Colts winning this game outright. The Colts are 5-3 against the spread when on the road, where the Texans are 4-4 at home. Indianapolis has a top three offensive line, and the Texans pass rush finished in the top 15 in the league this season. Houston’s achilles heel on defense has been their secondary, where they have been torched by opposing WR1 and TEs. The Texans have had a great run, but I think it ends on Saturday.
Dallas Cowboys -1.5: Since the Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper in Week 9, Dak Prescott has become a different QB. He has seen increases in yards per game, yards per attempt, and touchdowns. Dallas’ defense has also stepped it up this year, finishing in the top ten in DVOA. Dallas finished the season 7-1 at home, while the Seahawks finished 4-4. The Cowboys ability to move the ball on the ground, as well as through the air, will prove to be too much for Seattle to handle.
L.A. Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens UNDER 41.5: When these two teams met in Week 16, they combined for just 32 points. The Chargers are actually 5-3 on the road this year when it comes to the over-under, but this Ravens defense is no joke. They are top five in both pass and run defense this season. We know how explosive the Chargers offense can be, but Philip Rivers doesn’t exactly have the best track record in the playoffs, only making it to the AFC Championship game once.
Chicago Bears -6: I know that the narrative going around is surrounding Nick Foles, and “can he make another magical playoff run?”. No, no he can’t. He left last week’s game with a rib/chest injury, and now he’ll be facing the NFL’s number one defense. The Eagles secondary is decimated with injuries, and their defensive line can’t generate enough of a pass rush to make my grandmother uneasy, with an adjusted sack rate of just six percent. I love what Matt Nagy has done with this Bears team, and I expect them to be moving on.
Jonathon Lee’s Picks:
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Pick: Houston Texans -1:
The season series is split between these two teams in which both games were decided by three points. The third matchup is this Saturday and should be a close one yet again. If the spread was 3 points I would take the Colts here. There’s a lot of familiarity in this specific matchup, including TY Hilton somehow always finding a way to punish the Texans every single time.
I think the Texans finally figure out how to keep him from having a big play, contain Eric Ebron, and force someone else to try to beat them. This is Deshaun Watson’s first career playoff game, but it’s clear the second-year quarterback isn’t afraid of the bright lights. The former College Football National Champion will be ready to go. Give me Texans -1 in a nail-biter.
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Dallas Cowboys -2:
This has been the most likely matchup between the two teams for a few weeks now, so we’ve had plenty of time to analyze it. Despite the big games Russell Wilson has had this year and the Seahawks defense showing they can still manage after losing so many key players, I think this is a great matchup for the Cowboys.
The Seahawks are dead last in rushing yards per game against, and the Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliot, the NFL’s leading rusher, to hand the ball to. I think they take advantage of that, along with being at home, and pound the ball in an attempt to dominate the time of possession most of the game. I like The Dallas Cowboys winning this game 20-14, and for what it’s worth, I would lean the under 43 as well.
LA Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens
Pick: LA Chargers +2.5:
These two teams faced each other only two weeks ago in week 16, and the Ravens won convincingly in LA, 22-10. Lamar Jackson had arguably the best game of his short career, while Philip Rivers had one of his worst games of the season. However, that was coming off the emotional division win over the Chiefs the week before by a game-winning two-point conversion and I believe the Chargers really second-guessed the Ravens team as a whole.
This Ravens team is scrappy, scary, and the worst possible matchup for any team in the first round, much less the 12-4 Chargers who have to play on the road. Philip Rivers and the Chargers game plan better for this game, and Lamar Jackson plays well but shows playoff rookie mistakes. I’ll take the Chargers outright. I simply can’t see them losing in the first round after such a successful season. I would also lean over 42.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles +6.5:
Remember last year when the Rams went 11-5 with their second-year quarterback, dominated their division, and then lost to the more experienced, reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons team? Now we have this year’s version of it; the Bears at 12-4, with their second-year quarterback, after dominating their division, facing the reigning NFC (and Super Bowl) Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
This is a case of a very successful season by a young team but will have a short playoff run and come back better next year. I don’t think the Nick Foles magic stops this weekend. Since returning, the reigning Super Bowl MVP is 3-0 with 962 yards and 6 touchdowns. Give me the Eagles outright, but I’ll take the 6.5 to be safe as it is still in Chicago. I’d also lean under 41.
***All stats from ESPN, Football Outsiders, and Vegas Insiders***