NFL Playoffs: This Weekend's Best Bets

One week in, we've watched eight of the twelve playoff team in action, and for now, it appears that only one didn't belong even remotely close to an NFL playoff game — that would be our Houston Texans. As it turns out, the Texans shouldn't have been allowed near an NFL stadium last weekend without buying a ticket. The Redskins were probably next down on the ineptitude list, but at least they had a second half lead for a brief stint in their game against the Packers.

The good news is, with the elimination of four teams last weekend, we cleaned out thew deadest wood on the playoff QB tree. Goodbye Hoyer, see you later Mccarran, adios Bridgewater, and peace out Cousins. We're left with four compelling QB matches, so long as health allows us a full strength Peyton Manning and a something-better-than-totally-banged-up Ben Roethlisberger in that Pittsburgh-Denver game. Three of the four games are rematches of regular season games. 

Let's get to the picks...

PATRIOTS -5 over Chiefs
IN the war of attrition that is the AFC, the Chiefs are actually the healthiest of the four remaining teams, if we are using the core during their now 11 game winning streak as the baseline. Justin Houston returned last week against the Texans, which gives them their full complement of weapons on defense. Yet, there's still part of me that thinks people could get swept up in how good the Chiefs looked last week against a totally overwhelmed Texans team. A more aggressive team would've led that game 35-0 at the half, and the Patriots won't spooned them turnovers like Hoyer did. A bye week for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to get ready for Andy Reid feels pretty nice, and outweighs the Chiefs November and December momentum. 

Packers +7 over CARDINALS
Just a few weeks ago, in this very stadium, Arizona took Green Bay to the woodshed by a score of 38-8. SO why on earth would we take the seven points here when it's basically the same cast of characters in a higher stakes game. Well, THAT'S exactly why... the higher stakes. This comes down to a lack of trust in Carson Palmer in this spot. He was sublime during the regular season, likely a top three MVP candidate. However, he's still looking for his first career playoff win. Aaron Rodgers appeared to get some of his groove back in Washington last weekend. Taking the points. 

Seahawks +2.5 over PANTHERS
When these two teams met earlier this season, Cam Newton bright the Panthers back from a nine point deficit in the final five minutes to win 27-23 and really begin the launch toward what will likely be an MVP season. The Panthers finished 15-1, albeit against the softest schedule in the league. The Panthers rely heavily on turnovers (+20, best differential in the league), but I trust Russell Wilson to protect the football and keep the chains moving with his nearly 70 percent completion percentage. The Seahawks escaped last week in Minnesota. This week, no Houdini act will be necessary. Seahawks win outright. 

BRONCOS -7 over Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger may be playing this game without Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams, and a working right arm, if he plays at all. It all seems too easy to just go ahead and take the league's best defense here, especially backing Gary Kubiak in a big playoff game. Swallowing hard and laying the points. 

Last Week: 2-2 
Season Record: 50-61-1

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.  

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