Well, I can’t say the first round offered anything really surprising. It was OK, but all the teams that were supposed to lose did indeed lose.
Now, moving on to Round Two, with the #5 and #6 seeds eliminated from each conference the games in the next round should be more competitive and certainly more interesting.
I was right on three out four predictions in Round One. I was wrong on the Oakland vs Houston. That was a tough game to call. In retrospect I should have just defaulted to the Texans with their home field advantage.
Seattle at (-5) Atlanta
A game that could go either way, but I favor the Falcons at home. With QB Matt Ryan playing the best football of his career I think Atlanta’s high octane offense would difficult to stop for any team, and even Seattle’s vaunted D will not be able to do that, especially without safety Earl Thomas.
Atlanta 34 Seattle 24
Houston at (-15) New England
Unless Tom Brady and about half the starters on NE’s offense are knocked out of the game early there is no way the Texans will win this game. That ain’t gonna happen. Houston’s defense actually did look good and the offense was half decent at times vs Oakland, but of course the Raiders were a mere shell of themselves with rookie QB Conor Cook QB playing in his first game instead of Derek Carr, who was a legit MVP candidate this season. Big, Big step up in the quality of the opposing QB for the Texans defense now facing Tom Brady.
NE 35 Houston 14
Pittsburgh at (-1.5) Kansas City
This will be a brutal game. The 1.5 point spread justifiably reflects two even matched teams who finished strong in the regular season. I can’t say I would want to bet on this game. If this game were being played in Pittsburgh and if Ben Rothlisberger was totally healthy I would be picking the Steelers, but I think KC, with home field advantage, has the edge here.
KC 31 Pittsburgh 27
Green Bay at (-4.5) Dallas
In a weekend a games that look great on paper, this is arguably the best of the bunch. In Dallas, we have the team that was unexpectedly the best regular season team, elevated by the play of their spectacular rookies, QB Dak Prescott and RB Zeke Elliot and an awesome offensive line. In Green Bay we have one of the hottest teams in the league, led by the Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback who is still arguably the best in the league. The loss of star WR Jordy Nelson does concern me, but I was impressed by how well the Packers played against the Giants highly rated defense in the second half last week. I’m going to go with the Packers pulling off the upset here.
GB 28 Dallas 24