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NFL playoff picks and predictions 2017: Experts give edge to Cowboys, Steelers in divisional play

The Falcons and Patriots are also expected to cruise.

The Divisional round of the 2017 NFL playoffs has some compelling showdowns. And also a rematch of a Texans-Patriots game New England won by 27 with its third-string quarterback.

So they’re not all winners.

As expected, SB Nation’s experts aren’t giving Houston much of a chance in Saturday’s matchup. The picks against Brock Osweiler are unanimous, paving the way for Tom Brady to make his sixth straight appearance in the AFC Championship.

The Falcons are nearly as big a favorite with our panel. Only one writer, the intrepid Joel Thorman, thinks Seattle has what it takes to escape Atlanta with a victory. Potential MVP frontrunner Matt Ryan has put together the finest year of his career, posting the league’s highest quarterback rating and yards per pass number for the 2016 regular season.

He’ll have to be on top of his game to lead the Falcons to victory in a rematch of a Week 6 showdown. The Seahawks squeaked out a 26-24 win thanks in part to a dubious late no-call on Richard Sherman. However, that win came in the raucous confines of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. Atlanta can keep a four-game winning streak alive by dispatching Russell Wilson Saturday afternoon.

The other two games on the docket get a little tougher to pick, but not by much. Only two writers think Aaron Rodgers’ late-season surge will be enough to dethrone the Cowboys from the top of the NFC. Dallas already has one win over the Packers, and that came at Lambeau Field. While offensive leaders Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott could one day look like nervous rookies, it doesn’t appear Sunday will be that day.

Our panel was split down the middle on the last game in the bunch, a Missouri-based clash between two of the AFC’s hottest teams. Pittsburgh was won eight straight games to establish itself as one of the league’s most dangerous Super Bowl contenders. However, the killer-B trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown will have to create room to operate against a dynamic Kansas City defense.

The Chiefs have won five of their last six games and held opponents to 19 points or fewer seven times in their last 10 contests. If that defense can’t hold up Sunday, veteran passer Alex Smith will have to step up his game. History suggests he’ll be ready — his postseason passer rating of 99.1 is nearly 14 points higher than his regular season mark.

Divisional Playoff Round Picks

Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark Computer
Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark Computer
SEA vs ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL SEA ATL ATL
HOU vs NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE
PIT vs KC PIT KC PIT PIT PIT PIT KC KC KC
GB vs DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL GB DAL GB DAL DAL
Last week 3-1 4-0 3-1 3-1 3-1 4-0 4-0 4-0 4-0
Season total 159-99-2 165-93-2 163-95-2 161-97-2 157-101-2 151-107-2 165-93-2 154-104-2 171-87-2