The NFL Divisional Round of games begin today, as the playoffs start to inch closer to finding out who will reach Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5-1) at Atlanta Falcons (11-5):
Two more victories and either the Seahawks or Falcons will be making a Super Bowl LI appearance. In this Week 6 rematch, in which the Seahawks narrowly defeated the Falcons 26-24, Seattle is no where close to having its full compliment of offensive and defensive skill players for this Divisional Round matchup. Seattle safety Earl Thomas and wide receiver Tyler Lockett are both out indefinitely with injuries. That’s left quarterback Russell Wilson to shoulder a lot more of the load offensively for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks’ 26-6 Wild-Card round victory over the Detroit Lions was impressive, but Pete Carroll’s crew will have to do a lot more to shut down MVP candidate Matt Ryan in the Divisional Round, who threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns during the regular season.
Ryan’s go to guy will be All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, who caught 83 passes for 1,409 yards. Also aiding the Falcons’ potent offensive attack is running back Devonta Freeman, who rushed for 1,079 yards and scored 11 times on the ground.
Houston Texans (10-7) at New England Patriots (14-2):
In one of the largest betting lines in NFL playoff history, New England is favored by 15 points to defeat Houston and there’s not too many people arguing that point.
Despite the Texans’ coming off a playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders, Houston’s problems this season have come primarily from the play from under center of quarterback Brock Osweiler. The former Denver Bronco was signed to a hefty 4-year, 72 million dollar deal during the off-season and has not looked anything like the franchise signal caller the Texans were searching for. Osweiler threw more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) during the regular season and the Patriots’ defense are sure to dial up the pressure to force turnovers.
Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady has been the complete opposite of Osweiler, throwing for 28 touchdowns to a mere two interceptions after missing the first four games of the season due to suspension. Brady is complimented by one of the NFL’s top rushers in LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. Brady will have his impressive crew of receivers to throw to, led by Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Michael Floyd and tight end Martellus Bennett.
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