NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Divisional Round

The SB Nation Arizona "experts" combat the Vegas oddsmakers, picking against the spread for the NFL Playoffs divisional round.

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Heated Rivalry Between New England Patriots And New York Jets Picks Up Right Where It Left Off

The NFL playoffs continue on with the divisional round. All four road teams won last week, and that was sure to upset the Vegas odds-makers dearly. This week they are out for revenge, but don't fear, our team of "experts" has been beating the spread the whole year. Now we will look at the last matchup of the weekend, the New York Jets versus the New England Patriots.

New England Patriots -8.5 vs. New York Jets

Before the week began, the Jets had a chance. Look, say you're the Patriots. You never want to face a division rival in the playoffs. It's hard enough to see a team a twice in the regular season. A third time? At that point, it's all out there. They know your tricks and you know theirs.

But, of course, that all crumbled when the Jets did what they always do. Really Rex RyanReally Antonio Cromartie??? This stuff fuels the Patriots fire harder than any Belichick speech ever could. Anthony Smith can attest to it.

Besides, isn't it hard to talk smack when your team got absolutely smashed the last time you met your upcoming opponent?

Still, that's a big spread. To be honest it's starting to feel like a trap. Expect a close game with the Patriots pulling out the win in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 17.

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Surprise Surprise, The Seattle Seahawks Visit The Chicago Bears

The NFL playoffs continue on with the divisional round. All four road teams won last week, and that was sure to upset the Vegas odds-makers dearly. This week they are out for revenge, but don't fear, our team of "experts" has been beating the spread the whole year. Now we will look at Sunday's first battle (that nobody expected), the Seattle Seahawks versus the Chicago Bears.

Chicago Bears -10 vs. Seattle Seahawks

You know, for all the flak the NFC West takes from the national media, I'd like to hear someone explain this little stat to me. Since 2005, the "worst division in the NFL" has had the best postseason record out of any division in the entire NFL. Yep, you heard that right. The NFC West's 9-5 record (which includes two Super Bowl representatives) is better than the Patriots' AFC East; better than the always overrated NFC East; and even better than the vaunted AFC North. You like apples? How ‘bout them apples?

Still, hometown bragging aside, Seattle's victory shocked the country. The team with the worst record in playoff history beating the defending champions? That sounds like bad sports movie with Woody Harrelson playing the old, broken-down coach searching for one last shot at glory.

But somehow it happened. And then Vegas comes and lays another ten points on these ‘Hawks, acting like nothing ever transpired. That just reeks of fishiness.

The whole season, I haven't been sold on the Bears. Any team with Jay Cutler is just destined for heartbreak. Call him Rex Grossman version 2.0.

Imagine if the Seahawks beat the Bears, and somehow found themselves hosting the NFC championship game in Seattle against the Green Bay Packers. Didn't the Cardinals write that storybook a few years ago? It might just happen again.

Prediction:  Seattle Seahawks 32, Chicago Bears 20. The "gunslinger" side of Jay Cutler rears its ugly head, throwing multiple interceptions in a game eerily reminiscent of the Cardinals/Panthers matchup of 2008. 

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers Visit Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The NFL playoffs continue on with the divisional round. All four road teams won last week, and that was sure to upset the Vegas odds-makers dearly. This week they are out for revenge, but don't fear, our team of "experts" has been beating the spread the whole year. Now we will look at Saturday's second matchup, the Green Bay Packers versus the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons -2.5 vs. Green Bay Packers 

Somehow, even after cruising to a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons continue to get overlooked. Virtually no one has been talking about them over the past few weeks, despite the fact that the Falcons are the only team in the NFL this year to possess a top-five ranked defense and a top-five ranked offense.

On the flip side, almost everyone has been talking about the Green Bay Packers. They seem to have been on the receiving end of the most hype any number six seed in the NFC has had in recent memory. 

It's strange to think about, especially considering the fact that the Packers have essentially already had three playoff games (if you remember, Green Bay had to win their last two games to even lay claim to the six seed).

Yet, isn't that what the NFL playoffs is always about... every single year? The regular season doesn't matter. It's all about a team fighting through adversity, hitting their stride, and peaking at the right time.

Doesn't that sound exactly like the Packers? As good as Matt Ryan is, at this point it's hard to doubt Aaron Rodgers (and that monster that is Clay Matthews) in a game of this magnitude. The Pack look focused and hungry, and it will show on Saturday.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31, Atlanta Falcons 27. Green Bay edges out a close victory on the heels of a tremendous performance from Aaron Rodgers. 

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NFL Playoff Picks Against The Spread: Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers Revive Bitter Rivalry In Divisional Round

The NFL playoffs continue on with the divisional round. All four road teams won last week, and that was sure to upset the Vegas odds-makers dearly. This week they are out for revenge, but don't fear, our team of "experts" has been beating the spread the whole year. Now we will look at all four of this week's matchups, starting with World War III, the Baltimore Ravens versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers -3 vs. Baltimore Ravens

On the surface, these teams seem like mirror images of each other. Both currently sit with a 13-4 record. Both have relied on a strong running game, yet still possess extremely capable passing attacks. And both have always traditionally been led by explosive, feared defenses.

Pittsburgh is 5-3 at home this season. Baltimore is 5-3 on the road this season.

Five of the seven matchups between the two teams during the Joe Flacco era have been decided by three points -- the last four happening consecutively. The only other two were a 13-9 Pittsburgh victory and a 23-14 Pittsburgh playoff victory, both in which took place in Flacco's rookie year.

So how should you pick this game?

Well, Pittsburgh is the home team, so you can always side with the home playoff atmosphere. But if the trends stay consistent, you would only push with the Vegas line. Besides, this year the away team won each of the first two matchups. So obviously where the game is played doesn't matter. Plus, a little fun fact about Joe Flacco: the kid has already won four road playoff game in just three seasons in the league. That stat is all kinds of impressive.

Honestly, you just have to go with your gut on this one. My gut says that the Ravens pull the upset. 

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 14. A ferocious battle rages on as each team struggles to gain the upper hand. That is, until a last second Ravens drive gets them in range to kick a game winning field goal. 

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