That’s where I come in with a pair of expert picks on the two divisional round matchups that are the closest thing to lock selections this coming weekend. Okay, let’s get started.
Check Out NFL Divisional Round Lock Picks
Houston Texans (10-7) at New England Patriots (14-2)When: Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 8:15 PM ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
NFL Odds: New England -15.5 / Total: 45
Not only did the New England Patriots (14-2 SU, 13-3 ATS) win their final seven games of the regular season to hit the playoffs absolutely on fire, but Tom Brady and company also shut the Texans out 27-0 in Week 3 without Tom Brady on the field and J.J. Watt playing for the Texans. This time around Brady will get the start while Houston will be without its best player in Watt, thereby effectively making the Pats a lock to cover what appears to be an insanely high 16.5-point spread. New England finished the regular season ranked third in scoring (27.6 ppg) and a stellar first in points allowed defensively (15.6 ppg).
While Houston has won four of their last five games, the Texans are offensively-challenged as they average just 17.4 points per game to rank 29th in scoring. Defensively, Houston ranked first in total defense, but just 11th in points allowed (20.5 ppg). Houston would have had a much better chance to cover the spread if Tom Savage were getting the start in this divisional round matchup instead of the pitiful Brock Osweiler, but that’s not the case with Houston head coach Bill O’Brien stating that Osweiler will remain the starter for Saturday’s matchup.
With Savage be on the bench, I say the Pats are locks to win big and cover the largest playoff spread in almost two decades and apparently, 54 percent of the betting public agrees. The Texans are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against their AFC counterparts, an uninspiring 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games and a winless 0-5 ATS in their last five road games against a team with a winning home record.
Conversely, Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone 5-0 ATS in their last five games following an SU win, 4-0 ATS in their L/4 games against their AFC conference counterparts and a near-perfect 6-1 ATS in their L/7 games against a team with a winning record.
New England 28 Houston 10
Green Bay Packers (11-6) at Dallas Cowboys (13-3)When: 4:40 PM ET, Sunday, January 15, 2017
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
NFL Odds: Dallas -4 / Total: 51.5
There’s a great reason to back Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (11-6 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) in this contest and it’s because Green Bay is on fire right now! The Packers have now won seven straight games and got a fantastic performance out of Rodgers in their 38-13 wild card blowout win over the Giants on Sunday as the former league MVP completed 25 of 40 passes for 362 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Over Green Bay’s past seven games, Rodgers has thrown an insane 22 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. The Packers have scored at least 30 points in each of their last five games and rank fourth in scoring (27.0 ppg), but just 21st in points allowed (24.2 ppg). While Dallas laid an emphatic 30-16 beatdown on the Boys in Week 6, on the road no less, I say the Packers keep it much closer this time round while pushing the Cowboys really hard for the outright win.
65 percent of the betting public likes the Green Bay Packers to cover the spread as 4-point road dogs and I agree, mostly because I believe the spread for this matchup should be three points at most. Green Bay has gone 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff games, 6-1 ATS in their L/7 playoff road games and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
While Dallas has gone 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games, the Cowboys are also just 1-4 ATS in their L/5 games against a team with a winning record and 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall. The Boys win a thriller, but the Packers look like locks to cover the spread.
Dallas 31 Green Bay 28