- ATL -5.5 (5u) W
Riding with my Super Bowl pick once again with the Falcons at home against the Packers today. Green Bay had an incredible last second win in Dallas last week, completing their 8th straight win since Rodgers' famous "run the table" comment, but face a stiffer test against the best offense in the league. Green Bay's secondary has a ton of injuries and should have no answers for Julio Jones and Atlanta's league leading offense that ran circles around the vaunted Seattle defense, while the Packers' seondary allowed 9 catches for 132 yards to an aging Dez Bryant last week. The Packers planned their game against Dallas to limit their heavy run-oriented offense but should shift their focus to their secondary to slow down Matt Ryan, allowing Atlanta's solid running game to open up behind their backfield duo in Freeman and Coleman. Nelson is apparently active for today's matchup and will sport a custom kevlar vest under his jersey to protect his broken ribs but will most likely only be used in select red zone packages and some vertical routes. He won't be able to do any down field blocking or take any significant hits running across the field with his injury so it's likely that he's being featured in the starting lineup as a decoy to force Atlanta to double team him. Adams is still not 100% with his injured ankle, and for a receiver that relies on his cutting and route running, an ankle injury may make him less efficient today. The Falcons were battle tested this season, with the toughest strength of schedule in the entire league, while the Packers were on the other side of the scale, with the easiest strength of schedule in the NFL. With no run game or a secondary, the Packers simply have too many holes in their game for Rodgers to continue his heroics and not be exposed by the well balanced attack that Atlanta will feature. This game should be an absolute shootout with the highest over/under in decades, and the Falcons should put up a crooked number and win big at the Georgia Dome.
- NE -6 (3u) W
Laying the points with the Pats at home against a Steelers team that has quietly pieced together 9 straight wins coming into Gillette Stadium. Pittsburgh had some red zone troubles last week against a formidable Kansas City secondary and face another tough test against a solid New England defense. Pats are a top 3 team against the run that hasn't given up a rush TD since Week 8, and they should have their hands full trying to slow down arguably the best RB in the league in Bell, allowing under 4 YPC. Big Ben performs significantly worse on the road, where his completion percentage drops nearly 10% (68.5% home vs 58.9% road) and his TD:INT ratio absolutely plummets (24:7 home vs 9:8 road). This game could be a slow paced defensive matchup, where the Pats should come way with a solid win to meet the Falcons in Houston for Super Bowl LI.