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Betting Against the Spread: NFL Divisional Playoff Picks and Odds


The NFL playoffs move on to hopefully a better place after an awful Wild Card Weekend. There were blowouts and efforts by teams that certainly didn't belong in the postseason. Now we get to bring the top seeds off of bye and get a few rematches from the regular season. There are still some teams left that could challenge perceived favorites New England and Dallas as well.

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Seattle Seahawks (11-5-1) at Atlanta Falcons (11-5), 4:35 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Rematch number one of the weekend takes place in Atlanta as the Falcons look for revenge after a 26-24 Week 6 loss in Seattle. The big takeaway from the first meeting is the non-call on a Julio Jones incompletion that would have made a huge difference. Atlanta is a completely different team at home, where the Falcons average more than 400 yards and 35 points per game. The problem is still their defense which allows almost 28 points per contest in the Georgia Dome. Seattle is still a hard team to figure out despite winning three of its last four. The Seahawks’ offense, mainly Thomas Rawls, ran it well against Detroit last week. Two of their last three road games were 14-5 and 38-10 losses at Tampa Bay and Green Bay, respectively. Atlanta was able to keep things close in Seattle back in October despite the lack of a ground game. Atlanta is 8-18 the last three years against the spread as a favorite. I'm not a believer in Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the postseason. SELECTION: Seattle 28-24

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks

Houston Texans (10-7) at New England Patriots (14-2), 8:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Rematch number two has drastically different circumstances then the first meeting. Jacoby Brissett was under center for the Patriots, who were also welcoming Rob Gronkowski back into the flow of the offense. New England won in Houston way back in Week 3 easily 27-0 despite managing only 282 yards of offense. The Pats have dominated this series, winning seven of the last eight meetings while covering six of them. The biggest question here is if Bill Belichick will go full throttle or pull back the reins a little. The Pats were 13-3 against the spread this season and have covered in six of their last nine games as a home favorite of 14.5 to 21 points. Brock Osweiler and the Texans beat Oakland in the previous round, but this is where the ride ends. SELECTION: New England 38-10

NFL Power Rankings: Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), 1:05 p.m. ET (Sunday)

Arguably the best game of the weekend, we've already seen a swap of favorites going from Pittsburgh to Kansas City. The Steelers demolished the Chiefs 43-14 back in October, putting up more than 400 yards of offense. Pittsburgh is one of the hottest teams in the league behind its explosive offense, but the defense has done its job as well, holding five of the last seven opponents to 20 points or fewer. Kansas City has won five of its last six and you can point to the team’s increased offensive output. Tyreek Hill has been a revelation to go along with Travis Kelce. We've seen Alex Smith get better and that's key to a team whose defense already has lockdown potential. The Chiefs can be thrown on, but can Ben Roethlisberger conquer his road issues? I want to believe that the winner of this one can beat New England if they don't beat each other up too much. SELECTION: Kansas City 27-24

NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs

Green Bay Packers (11-6) at Dallas Cowboys (13-3), 4:40 p.m. ET (Sunday)

The final rematch of the weekend features a Dallas team who already beat the Packers at their place 30-16 back on Oct. 16. Green Bay was left for dead before Thanksgiving, but has reeled off seven straight wins, several in impressive fashion. The Packers have been exceptional with their ball security (1 turnover vs. 17 takeaways) during this streak, but will most likely be without No. 1 wide receiver Jordy Nelson on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers has been fantastic, but I don't know if he's enough. The Green Bay secondary is awful and has allowed three of the last four opponents to pass for more than 300 yards. Dallas probably was happy to see the Pack win last week considering the Cowboys’ struggles with the Giants. Ezekiel Elliott and the running game should be able to find some traction, which opens up things for Dak Prescott. I think the Packers’ train reaches its final stop on Sunday. SELECTION: Dallas 26-21

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.