Divisional Playoffs: Expert Picks Against the Spread

Jan 10, 2013

Pete CarrollIf you’re a believer in rolling with the hot hand when seeking advice, you’ve come to the right place. The expert consensus defied the odds in the wild-card round by picking every favorite to cover the spread. After a 4-0 week, we’ve eagerly invited the experts back to offer up their predictions for the divisional playoffs.


Before we get to their picks, we want to give kudos to the experts that are coming off of a perfect week (4-0). Congrats go out to the following experts for nailing their wild-card calls:


John Halpin (Fox Sports)

Muntradamus (Beast Dome)

Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)

Chet Gresham (The Fake Football)

Raju Byfield (Win My Fantasy League)

James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)


With that bragging behind us, here are the predictions for this weekend’s games. Similar to last week, the pundits provided commentary for their “best bet” of the 4 game slate.

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BAL @ DEN (-9): Saturday, 4:30pm EST


57% 43%
“The Broncos are a strong, complete team. The Ravens have a mediocre QB & a defense that’s living on reputation. This one should be ugly.” – John Halpin (Fox Sports)
 Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
“Joe Flacco at home: 15:5 TD:INT, 8.35 yards per attempt.  Joe Flacco on the road: 7:5 TD:INT, 5.86 yards per attempt.” – Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
 Dawgmatica (Pyromaniac)
“Sure, Ray Lewis is back, but Denver is playing at home after a week off.  The Broncos’ defense is much better than the Colts. Peyton Manning has won nine straight against the Ravens.  Joe Flacco is playing on the road.” – Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
 C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks)
“This will be Ray Lewis’s last NFL game. The Ravens won’t be able to fumble their way to victory against the Broncos who are arguably one of the most all-around solid teams in the NFL. Peyton Manning is looking as good, if not better than he ever has. Von Miller and the defense will put a ton of pressure on Joe Flacco.” – Joe Dyken (FFNerd)
 Tony Mauriello (FantasyTrade411)
I hate giving up that many points, but Denver is the complete package and they’re at home with 2 weeks off. Oh and they have Peyton Manning, Thomas & Decker, Champ, Elvis, ans well, you get the picture. A team stacked with talent with the best field general in the game leading them at home. The Ravens have been too inconsistent in all phases of the game to predict that they’ll bring it all together here.” – Chet Gresham (The Fake Football)
 Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly)
“Last call for Baltimore.” – Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)
 Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)
 Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts)  Dan Yanotchko (EDSFootball)
 Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)  Keet Bailey (NFL Soup)
 Brent Namejko (Fantasy Smack Talk)  Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)
 James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)  Jeff Brubach (The Fake Football)
 Muntradamus (Beast Dome)  Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)
 Derek Lofland (Fantasy Football Maniax)  Walton Spurlin (Fantasy Sharks)
 Greg Smith (The Fake Football)  Maurile Tremblay (FootballGuys)
 Jeff Paur (RTSports)  Sigmund Bloom (FootballGuys)
 R.J. White (FFCafe)  Ryan Lester (Lesters Legends)
 Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
 Andrew Norton (GHL Fantasy)
 Austin Lee (Pro Football Focus)
 Joel Beall (Fox Sports)
 Scott Engel (RotoExperts)



GB @ SF (-3): Saturday, 8:00pm EST


 63%  37%
“I’m backing the Pack for the second week in a row. They weren’t even on their A game in all regards, and they crushed the Vikings. The 49ers are no cakewalk, but Colin Kaepernick is not a traditional passer and he certainly has holes to his game. I think the Packers expose him and win by a touchdown this week.” – Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)
“It’s a near certainty that San Francisco, even without Justin Smith, can shut down Green Bay’s almost nonexistent run game, leaving Aaron Rodgers with a one-dimensional offense. I think Colin Kaepernick, as a marked upgrade from Alex Smith, will make life tough on a less-than-intimidating Packers’ defense.” – C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks)
“Coming in hot off their wild-card win with four stellar receivers healthy, Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews roving again and a new-found running game, the Packers should pick up a win in San Francisco. Aaron Rodgers has started in as many playoff games as Colin Kaepernick has started in his NFL career. I’m gonna pick the experience on this one.” – Andrew Norton (GHL Fantasy)
“SF is the perfect matchup for GB, as they have the 4th ranked rushing and passing defenses that will blunt the Green Bay attack. The 49ers only allow 94.2 yards rushing and 3.7 yards per carry, and will force the Packers to be one dimensional as they lack a true rushing attack. The 49ers pass defense will also give Rodgers fits as they only allow 200 yards passing per game, and as a unit they had 38 sacks going up against that porous Packers offensive line.” – Dan Yanotchko (EDS Football)
“I think the Packers are flying under the radar. They are finally getting healthy and Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as any QB ever has. They have a bend, but don’t break defense. They seem like a team of destiny.” – Ryan Lester (Lesters Legends)
“I like San Francisco over Green Bay for a variety of reasons. The Niners have had a week off to prepare, the Green Bay receivers are banged-up and San Francisco has won its last two contests against Green Bay with an inferior quarterback to the one they have now. Above all else, the 49ers are at home and Harbaugh is a clear upgrade over McCarthy in the coaching matchup.” – Greg Smith (The Fake Football)
“Green Bay should have won the Super Bowl last season and will win this season. San Francisco has an identity crisis at QB and this will come to a head this week in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is peaking at the right time and will win straight up this week!” – Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
“To me, this is a terrible matchup for the Packers. They can’t run the ball, and San Francisco has no problem stopping them through the air with help from their stellar pass rush (oh, and Justin Smith will be back). The simple logic tells me that SF O > GB D and SF D = GB O. I think the 49ers win by 10.” – Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
 Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)  Dawgmatica (Pyromaniac)
 Tony Mauriello (FantasyTrade411)  Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)
 Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts)  Keet Bailey (NFL Soup)
 Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)  Derek Lofland (Fantasy Football Maniax)
 John Halpin (Fox Sports)  R.J. White (FFCafe)
 Brent Namejko (Fantasy Smack Talk)  Maurile Tremblay (FootballGuys)
 James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)  Austin Lee (Pro Football Focus)
 Joe Dyken (FFNerd)  Scott Engel (RotoExperts)
 Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)  Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly)
 Muntradamus (Beast Dome)
 Jeff Brubach (The Fake Football)
 Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
 Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
 Walton Spurlin (Fantasy Sharks)
 Jeff Paur (RTSports)
 Joel Beall (Fox Sports)
 Sigmund Bloom (FootballGuys)
 Chet Gresham (The Fake Football)



SEA @ ATL (-2.5): Sunday, 1:00pm EST


 51%  49%
“Playing as well as any team in the league, the Seahawks have the league’s best secondary that can slow down the Falcons passing attack.  In addition, Russell Wilson is playing like a poised veteran and Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 100-plus yards in five consecutive games.” – Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)
“I really believe this is where it ends for the SEA. They are not quite the Super Bowl team many make them out to be. Writing ATL off or underrating them is a mistake. Football is a game of emotion and motivation, and the Falcons will be determined to erase the looming spectre of overwhelming past failures in the postseason. Their offense gives the Seattle defense all it can handle and while this game looks close on paper, I believe momentum will ultimately be on the side of the Falcons. – Scott Engel (RotoExperts)
“Seattle has Super Bowl on the mind, and Atlanta is not going to slow them down. Expect Wilson and Lynch to continue to drive up and down the field like it’s their job.” – Muntradamus (Beast Dome)
“Chris Clemons being out for Seattle hurts them a ton plus Atlanta plays great at home. Dont worry about the past years, this is a new ATL and Julio and Roddy both find the endzone vs a tough secondary this week.” – Brent Namejko (Fantasy Smack Talk)
“Seattle could win this game outright and the Falcons still need to prove they can win in the postseason. Seattle’s defense isn’t as dominant on the road but is still a solid unit and they can pound the rock offensively. A Seahawks win or a 21-20 Falcons win wouldn’t surprise me.” – Walton Spurlin (Fantasy Sharks)
“I do love the way the Seahawks are playing but don’t think they can get it done on the road for a second straight week. This week’s opponent is a much tougher matchup. The Falcons are very tough at home with Matt Ryan having a career 33-6 record, including the playoffs.” – Jeff Paur (RTSports)
“Atlanta’s superior passing attack can’t make up for being the weaker team in all other facets of the game. Seattle is Super Bowl bound.” – Austin Lee (Pro Football Focus)
“Atlanta’s defense will step up in this game and keep Russell Wilson guessing. Look for the Falcons to win the turnover battle and get big plays from Julio Jones and Roddy White.” – Keet Bailey (NFL Soup)
 Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly)  Andrew Norton (GHL Fantasy)
 Ryan Lester (Lesters Legends)  Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
 Sigmund Bloom (FootballGuys)  Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
 Joel Beall (Fox Sports)  Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
 Maurile Tremblay (FootballGuys)  Jeff Brubach (The Fake Football)
 R.J. White (FFCafe)  Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)
 Greg Smith (The Fake Football)  Joe Dyken (FFNerd)
 Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)  James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)
 Derek Lofland (Fantasy Football Maniax)  John Halpin (Fox Sports)
 Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)  Dan Yanotchko (EDSFootball)
 C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks)  Tony Mauriello (FantasyTrade411)
 Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)  Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts)
 Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)  Dawgmatica (Pyromaniac)
 Chet Gresham (The Fake Football)



HOU @ NE (-9): Sunday, 4:30pm EST


71% 29%
“The Patriots smoked the Texans a month ago in Foxborough, 42-14, and the Texans’ lugnuts still haven’t been securely tightened. Houston’s win over Cincinnati last week was ugly and unconvincing. It’s hard to imagine Matt Schaub matching firepower with Tom Brady in New England.” – Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly)
“This is going to come down to Houston’s ability to put pressure on Tom Brady. I believe the Texans will be able to contain the Patriots’ ground game, and should be able to move the ball against the Patriots defense. If they can get in Tom Brady’s face, they’ll keep the game within a touchdown.” – Maurile Tremblay (FootballGuys)
“The Texans are taking a beating in the media this week, but it’s important to remember that they are a 13-4 team. They haven’t reached the Elite 8 by accident. However, although I expect them to perform better than they did when they lost 42-14 to New England in Week 14, I feel pretty confident projecting a 10+ point win for the Patriots. New England is averaging a ridiculous 75 offensive plays and 3.7 touchdowns per game this year. Houston hasn’t had a passing score since Week 15 and only three total offensive touchdowns over their last four games. Plain and simple, they won’t be able to keep up with Tom Brady and Co. 34-17 Patriots.” – Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)
“Last week, Arian Foster was partially inspired by an article in which Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy dismissed the Texans as playoff contenders. He even used a snippet of that article as his Twitter avatar. Houston visits Gillette Stadium for the second time this season after having been humiliated by the Patriots 42-14 in week 14, the game which was the first of 3 losses out of 4 games to finish out the season. The healthy Texans defense showed significant improved last week. If Watt and Co. can pressure Tom Brady and shut down any sense of a run game, expect this game to stay close. I do not believe the Texans will win, but they will do enough to cover the +9 spread.” – Tony Mauriello (FantasyTrade411)
“The Houston Texans are a struggling team, going 2-3 in their last five games including the playoffs. They are averaging only 16.8 points per game in their last five, have broke the 20 point mark only once and settled for 3 field goals and 1 TD in 4 red zone attempts last week in their playoff opener. That offensive effort is likely to result in a blowout against New England, especially with a red hot Patriots offense facing a Houston pass D that has declined in recent weeks.” – Derek Lofland (FFManiax)
 Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)
“If Andy Dalton wasn’t Andy Dalton, the Texans would be watching this one from home. Call me crazy, but I think Tom Brady will submit a slightly-better performance than the Red Rifle did last week.” – Joel Beall (Fox Sports)
 Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts)
“The Patriots are a team that has been there, done that while the Texans haven’t ever been a clutch team. The only way this offense moves the ball is via the run, and the Pats were pretty good at stopping it this year. The Texans said that the last time these two played each other, it was the Texans biggest game in franchise history. Well that game ended 42-14. The Pats have no problem blowing teams out to cover a 9 point spread.” – Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)
 Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)
“This is a rematch of a regular season game in which NE scored the first 28 points en route to a 42-14 win. This time around, the Pats may be even more dangerous. Once the Pats go up by double digits, it’s hard to see Houston getting the margin back under 10. They just aren’t built to play catch up.” – R.J. White (FFCafe)
 Keet Bailey (NFL Soup)
“The strength of the Houston Texans is their run game, which New England had no problem stuffing back in Week 14. I normally don’t take lines over seven points, but not only will Houston be unable to score more than 20 points, they won’t be able to keep the Patriots offense from putting up over 30 either. To me, this looks like a sure cover of a nine-point spread.” – Dawgmatica (Pyromaniac)
 Brent Namejko (Fantasy Smack Talk)
“Blew them out once and Kubiak isn’t bold enough to win in Foxboro.” – Sigmund Bloom (FootballGuys)
 Andrew Norton (GHL Fantasy)
 Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)  Austin Lee (Pro Football Focus)
 Ryan Lester (Lesters Legends)  Scott Engel (RotoExperts)
 Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
 Jeff Paur (RTSports)
 Chet Gresham (The Fake Football)
 Walton Spurlin (Fantasy Sharks)
 Greg Smith (The Fake Football)
 Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)
 Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
 Jeff Brubach (The Fake Football)
 Muntradamus (Beast Dome)
 Joe Dyken (FFNerd)
 James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)
 John Halpin (Fox Sports)
 Dan Yanotchko (EDSFootball)
 C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks)
 Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)


Thanks to the experts for taking the time to give us their predictions. Let us know in the comments if you agree/disagree with the picks. Enjoy the games this weekend!


Photo Credits: #1, #2

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