The best weekend in football starts with arguably its best game as the defending Super Bowl champs host the team that has won 11 in a row, and there's plenty of injury mystery on both sides. The most concrete news appears to be that Julian Edelman is going to return from his broken foot, which is huge since he is arguably just as important to New England's offense as Rob Gronkowski, who is questionable himself. Kanas City's fearsome pass rush going against the Patriots' shaky offensive line is cause for concern, but laying the points with the better quarterback and coach is the right call, especially at home after a bye week.
|I'm not anticipating Jamie Collins and this defense allowing many points.|
I've gone back and forth on this one before deciding that the points are just too much. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers finally looked like themselves again over the last 3 quarters last week when it counted, and I just can't completely count out a player of his caliber on this stage, especially with their defense matching up decently enough to continue to stay in the game. Arizona did completely destroy Green Bay in this matchup 3 weeks ago, though, and they have been the better team all year. Throwing the Cardinals in a teaser is probably the best course of action, but I'm not laying this many points straight up.
|Rodgers led a furious comeback to force OT last time these teams met in the playoffs.|
Panthers -1.5 versus Seahawks
The opening line of -3 seemed low already, and now this line is even more surprising after Seattle was lucky to escape last week. That near-loss doesn't mean they aren't still a dangerous team, but how many times does Carolina have to keep proving doubters wrong? I don't necessarily think the Panthers are as talented as you'd expect out of a 15-1 team, but they should take care of business here at home after a bye week against an underdog playing their third straight road game. Getting Jonathan Stewart back healthy helps, and Greg Olsen already exploited the Seahawks' weakness against tight ends in the comeback win in Week 6.
|Cam Newton made his MVP case against this defense once already.|
The movement on this line makes more sense given Antonio Brown's concussion, and it is almost too high for me to take it. However, Denver almost won in Pittsburgh a month ago before Brown went nuclear on their normally shutdown defense, and now Ben Roethlisberger is limited by an injury to his throwing shoulder. With DeAngelo Williams also out, the Broncos should get back to their stingy ways at home, which will highlight all of their defensive studs, a lot of whom are set to be free agents. The timing was curious, but they locked down one of their stout defensive ends, Derek Wolfe, to a fair contract yesterday, likely meaning that Malik Jackson is set for a payday elsewhere since a lot of money still needs to be set aside for linebackers Von Miller, Danny Trevathan, and Brandon Marshall. And that's before we even get into the last year of Peyton Manning's deal compared to Brock Osweiler's impending free agency, as well, which will likely be impacted by these playoffs. For now, I believe Manning can do enough against this unimposing secondary to get by.
|Just because you've seen it all week doesn't mean that Demaryius Thomas owning the Steelers isn't true.|
2015 Season Total: 131-117-12