First of all, I apologize for waiting so late on making these predictions. That’s what broadcasting 18 games in a week will do to you. I’ll just quickly tell you who I like and why.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
We don’t even know if the Packers are going to have Davante Adams or Jordy Nelson. Whether one of them, both of them, or neither of them will play, we know this: Green Bay won’t have it as easy against Atlanta’s defense as they did against Dallas. They’ll still score, but Atlanta’s defense has improved a ton from last year under Dan Quinn, while the offense has become far more potent. I look for this game to be a high-scoring affair, but I’ll take Atlanta and the points.
My Pick: Atlanta (-5.5) 38-31
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
You would think a team that has the best running back in the league (Le’Veon Bell) and the best wide receiver in the league (Antonio Brown) could find a way to rank higher than 7th in total yards, 5th in passing yards per game on offense, and 10th in total offense. Yet the Steelers have done just that. They were very close to coming up short last week against a Kansas City team that helped them with Alex Smith missing some obvious throws. Tom Brady won’t miss as often as Alex Smith. The Patriots are ranked 4th in passing yards per game, which is ahead of Pittsburgh. They’ve also done that without Rob Gronkowski involved in the passing game. Plus Pittsburgh’s defense is ranked 16th against the pass. That’s not a good recipe when you face the Patriots offense on their homefield, where they rarely lose in the postseason.
My Pick: New England (-6) 34-21
I picked Atlanta to face New England to go the Super Bowl before the postseason began, so it would be silly to deviate from that now.