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Des Bieler

The Washington Post
Against the Spread: Divisional Round Picks
Thu, Jan 11
Against the Spread: Divisional Round Picks
Game: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
Philadelphia has had two weeks to figure out how to stay competitive with Nick Foles at quarterback. Foles is clearly worse than Matt Ryan, but then again, this version of Ryan is clearly worse than last season's MVP. Meanwhile, the Falcons' defense is looking improved, but it's still 19th in weighted DVOA (per Football Outsiders), whereas the Eagles are ranked second.

Game: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5)
Pick: Tennessee Titans (+13.5)
Last week, I said that Vegas appeared to be begging us to take the Saints with their line against the Panthers, but I took New Orleans, anyway. Fool me once, right? This line is clearly meant to entice bettors who think the uninspiring Titans can't possibly stay within two touchdowns of the mighty Patriots in New England. Well, I think they can!

Game: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Antonio Brown is reportedly back to full health, or at least something close to it, which is more than enough to push me toward Pittsburgh. Blake Bortles fulfilled every expectation of his crappiness last week, and that was at home in what should have been a relatively low-pressure circumstance. This week, Jacksonville won't be able to hide his shortcomings, while Ben Roethlisberger, who threw five picks in the teams' first meetings, has played far better of late.

Game: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)
Pick: New Orleans Saints (+4.5)
These are just a few too many points to be giving a Drew Brees-led team against a Case Keenum-led squad. Minny's 10-point win over the Saints is practically ancient history, given that it was in Week 1, while New Orleans still had Adrian Peterson around to siphon work away from Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara (that problem has been more than fixed), and while Sam Bradford was looking lethal as the Vikes' starter.

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

Against the Spread: Wild Card Picks
Thu, Jan 4
Against the Spread: Wild Card Picks
Game: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-8)
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-8)
I'm concerned that there's too much groupthink involved in the "Terrible Titans have no business being in the playoffs" narrative -- but I also happen to believe wholeheartedly in that narrative. Andy Reid is capable of screwing this up, but I think Alex Smith can and will throw all over Tennessee.

Game: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-5)
Pick: Atlanta Falcons (+5)
The Falcons have experience on their side, although not always the best kind of experience (cough, 28-3, cough), but the Rams have better coaching, more confidence and a white-hot Todd Gurley. Atlanta's defense has played well of late, enough to get me to take the points.

Game: Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Pick: Buffalo Bills (+8.5)
I'd feel better about this pick if I knew Shady McCoy was definitely going to play, but regardless, I'm not going to pass up a chance to bet against Blake Bortles, who has prepped for the playoffs by looking like his old, ultra-shaky self in the Jags' past two games.

Game: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-6)
Pick: New Orleans Saints (-6)
Given how easily the Saints swatted aside the Panthers in two meetings this season, I'm a bit worried that Vegas seems to be begging us to take New Orleans. So that's why I'm going to be bold and ... take New Orleans.

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-6)

Connor Barth (K - FA)
Sun, Oct 8
Player Note on Connor Barth (K - FA)
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Des Bieler


Des Bieler is a fantasy sports expert at The Washington Post.

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