The 2015 NFL regular season is a wrap, and it is time for the 2016 NFL playoffs. That means four more weeks of picks against the spread. I suppose I could include the Pro Bowl for picks as well, but what am I, some kind of degenerate?
The Wild Card round saw all four road teams favored at one point or another, and all four won. The Divisional round features the return of the top four teams off their bye weeks. All four home teams are favored, but still face tough matchups. Whatever the case, here are my picks against the spread for the Divisional round. All lines and stats come courtesy of OddsShark, and as always the lines are subject to change, so check them out before making your wager.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
Line: Patriots -4.5
Pick: Chiefs - The line was up to five at one point, but late money has closed the gap modestly. The Chiefs have won 11 straight, and covered the spread their last five road games. The Patriots will likely welcome back Julian Edelman, but Rob Gronkowski is banged up. The Chiefs should be able to hang close enough to cover, but I think they come up just short of the outright win.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
Line: Broncos -7.5
Pick: Steelers - This line has been all over the place. The Broncos opened as 2.5-point favorites while we waited for injury news. The weekend has arrived and Antonio Brown (concussion) and DeAngelo Williams (foot) have both been ruled out. Ben Roethlisberger will play thanks to painkillers, and that is the only thing that will keep this team in the game. I have a hunch this ends up being the wildest game of the week. Maybe not a shootout, but I have a feeling we see some craziness.
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
Line: Panthers -1.5
Pick: Panthers - Marshawn Lynch traveled with the team, and is listed as probable. Even if he plays. I don't think that's enough to get the victory. The Panthers welcome back Jonathan Stewart and Ted Ginn, both of whom have been critical components of Carolina's offense. The Seahawks have won five straight road games, while the Panthers have won five straight home games, so something has to give. I think Carolina gets it with relative ease.
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals
Line: Cardinals -7
Pick: Packers - Arizona pounded Green Bay in Week 16, so recency bias might have people picking Arizona. I think the Cardinals probably win this, but much like Seahawks-Vikings last weekend, look for this to be closer than the first matchup between the two. Green Bay's offense found new life against Washington, and I suspect Aaron Rodgers keeps this thing rolling in the Divisional round. The Cardinals are a much better team than Washington, but this will be a good one, and potentially the highest scoring game of the weekend.