Niks Picks - Conference Championship Round
Things are really heating up in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
The Fairy tale continues for this Packers franchise. They’re riding one of the more memorable waves of luck, skill, talent, emotion and success in recent memory. Packers travelling to Atlanta will serve up a high-octane matchup with both offences facing very poor defences.
A big chunk of public money has come in on Green Bay. I tend to go against where the public money comes. However, the public has been doing quite well in these playoffs. With that said, Atlanta, at home are the better team. Ryan is just as hot as Rodgers, with his full compliment of back and receivers. Green Bay’s receivers and backs are banged up and they could be without Montgomery, Nelson and Adams. How long before the straw that breaks the camel’s back comes into effect?
Reports coming out of Green Bay have indicated that the flu is playing a part in Green Bay’s preparation for this game. Supposedly Rodgers has been affected during the week with the flu.
The only way Green Bay is beating Atlanta is if Aaron Rodgers suits up on defence and starts picking off Matt Ryan.
The way I see it is simple.
- Rodgers needs help to beat this historically good Atlanta offence. Having his receivers banged up = Offensive edge Atlanta
- Green Bay’s secondary is more injured that Atlanta’s and their depth is also taking its toll. Overall Atlanta had the better defence = Defensive edge Atlanta
- Home field advantage = Atlanta
With the key handicapping factors in this one pointing to the Falcons I think this will be their season. Beating Green Bay by more than 5 in the process should be a likely outcome.
Play: Atlanta Falcons -5
Lean: Over 60
12 NFL games have been set with a 57.5 total or higher. The over is 10-2 in those games. Over has cashed 11 straight times when the Falcons played on a turf field.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
This is a matchup that should be savoured. Brady v Roethlisberger is an all-time combination of star quarterbacks going at it.
The Steelers were monsters down the stretch this season, however the same can’t be said for their form on the road. Pittsburgh has a clear dip in quality whenever they have to hit the highway. In away games the Steelers are 1 game below .500 ATS compared to 11 games above .500 ATS. This is going to be dangerous when they travel to Foxborough and New England is 26-9-1 ATS against AFC opponents in their house.
Brady’s stats against Tomlin led Steelers sides is also outstanding. He’s through for 315 YPG and dropped a 19/0 TD to INT record.
The Patriots ranked 4th in 3rd down conversation rate with 45% of them being converted to a 1st down. That number has improved to 52% in their last three games. The Steelers defence is good, but is it ‘We can hold out Tom Brady when he’s spreading the ball across the field when we’re on the road’ good? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.
Home teams in the Conference Championship round are 42-34 ATS and 58% when favoured since 1980.
I think this is the type of game that we’ll look at afterwards and see the Steelers being outsmarted and give away frustration penalties leading to the Patriots getting the win.
Play: New England Patriots 1-13
Lean: Over 51
The Patriots are the kings of taking away an opponents key strength. That’s the running game of the Steelers. Bell is a beast and Roethlisberger isn’t very effective as a passer on the road. This is going to force a lot of 3 high impact plays, touchdowns or interceptions. New England’s defence I think is overrated and can be had by this talented Steelers offence. I can see points in this one.