Although there were plenty of surprises last week, I managed to go 6-2 with spreads and over/under lines. See the article and picks here: 1st Round NFL Playoff Spread Picks by Michael Luchies.
This weeks pick are unlikely to repeat my 6-2 performance from last week, but they are worth considering when making your selections for the second week of the 2011 NFL Playoffs.
Saturday 4:35 EST- Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, -125) O/U 36.5
The Ravens ripped apart the Chiefs in Kansas City 30-7, and now travel to Pittsburgh where they will face off against Roethlisberger and the Steelers defense. Flacco had a great game against the Chiefs while Ray Rice had trouble getting anything started on the ground. These two teams faced off a little over a month ago when the Ravens lost to the Steelers 13-10. Both teams are in the top five in the league in stopping the run but both are not in the top ten in pass defense. The Ravens have the better receivers, but Roethlisberger is the better quarterback and has much more playoff experience and success. I expect this to be a higher scoring game than most analysts are predicting, and it is hard to imagine but I am taking the Ravens to pull off the upset in Pittsburgh. Heap, Boldin, Ray Rice, and others make for great targets for Flacco and the Ravens dealt with not being able to run the ball in Kansas City and were still able to overcome that dilemma.
Prediction: Ravens win 28-20 (Ravens +3) OVER 36.5
Saturday 8:05 EST- Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons (-2) O/U 45.5
As soon as the Packers beat the Bears in Chicago in week 17 I knew that the Eagles were in trouble. I took the Packers to win on the road in Philadelphia and I feel even more confident that the Packers will be able to go into Atlanta and beat Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Matt Ryan is near unstoppable in Atlanta, but he was stopped by New Orleans just several weeks ago. The Saints have a mediocre pass rush and secondary compared to the Packers and were able to keep Ryan off balance as he went 15/29 for 148 yards. The Packers are 5th in passing and 5th in pass defense while the Falcons are 15th in passing and 22nd in pass defense. The game breaker in this one is that the Packers now have someone who can run the ball! James Starks was able to rush for 123 yards on 23 carries against the Eagles.
Prediction: Packers win 20-17 (Packers +2) UNDER 45.5
Sunday 1:05 EST- Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears (-10) O/U 40
The Seahawks shocked the world as Matt Hasselbeck went legend against the Saints. The Seahawks beat the Bears with Matt Hasselbeck in Chicago earlier this season, but can they repeat that 23-20 performance in the playoffs? The Bears ran the ball only 14 times for a total 61 yards, but have tried to pick up their running game since then instead of putting too much pressure on Cutler. Through the season the Seahawks have not really been good in any category; they are not in the top 18 in the league in rushing, passing, pass defense, or rushing defense. The Bears are not a dominating team, but when given the chance, they have a very balanced attack that has the chance to compete with anyone.
Prediction: Bears win 28-21 (Seahawks +10) OVER 40
Sunday 4:35 EST- New York Jets @ New England Patriots (-8.5) O/U 45.5
There could not be a better playoff matchup than the Jets vs. Patriots. In their last matchup the Jets lost to the Patriots by 42 points in New England, but don’t expect that result to repeat itself. The Jets are hot off of a last second win in Indianapolis and have all of the confidence in the world, but can that confidence spill over to help them beat the heavily favored Patriots? The Patriots have won 8 games in a row and have scored over 30 points in 9 straight games. Even the Jets defense can’t hold the Patriots to under 30 points in the playoffs. Although both teams will attempt to play mistake free football, don’t expect the Pats to take it easy. This will be an exciting matchup and closer than predicted, but the Patriots will not end up like the Colts.
Prediction: Patriots 31-27 (Jets +8.5) OVER 45.5