Seattle @ Atlanta
Atlanta Falcon QB Matt Ryan needs this win more than anything. He has a great home record in the regular season but his post season struggles become a stark reality today if he loses. Matt Ryan is 0-3 in the playoffs and they did everything right this year to make sure that record would include some numbers in the “W” column.
Atlanta (13-3) is 56-24 in five seasons under head coach Mike Smith, but 0-3 in the playoffs over the previous four. The Falcons have totaled 441 yards and allowed 884 while being outscored 72-23 in their last two playoff contests, including a 48-21 loss to Green Bay two years ago when they also held the NFC’s top seed. Though the Falcons’ playoff futility has been a dark cloud hanging over Smith’s otherwise successful tenure, they believe they’ve learned from the past playoff.
The Falcons had the best record in the NFC to secure home field advantage through out the playoffs. The lack of a running game and their defense playing so pedestrian gives me great pause to think that Matt Ryan will get his 1st win.
Seattle has all of the confidence in the world. It stems from their exuberant head coach Pete Carroll, a cool as ice rookie QB (Russell Wilson), and an aggressive defense that which is 4th ranked overall in the NFL. Seattle wants to punish teams with the run and then hit you deep with the pass. Their strategy isn’t rocket science and that is just the way Pete Carroll wants it. It is also the way that rookie QB Russell Wilson needs it to be. If Wilson must dissect coverages and 2 deep or 3 deep zones, he will not be successful.
Prediction, the key to this game will be put in more stressful 3rd down situations. Both teams want to rush the QB and cause miscues. The team that is successful in getting their opponent into long 3rd down situations will win. I have to think that Matt Ryan will get the monkey off his back today. I know that they aren’t balanced when it comes to the run and the pass. This is the year for Matt Ryan. The Falcons are favored by 2.5 and that is a virtual pickem. I know that Atlanta knows this is the best chance they have had in Matt Ryan’s and Mike Smith’s career.
Falcons 27 Seattle 23
Houston @ New England
I don’t care what RB Arian Foster puts on his Twitter avatar to get him motivated for this game. Unless his QB comes up big and plays well the Houston Texans will be “Fraudulent”. The Texans need to play their brand of football to win and need the Patriots to give them some gifts as far as in turnovers. Texans RB Arian Foster feels his team is being over looked and dismissed by the Boston media. Dude, don’t worry! Bill Belichick and the Patriots know who you are and also know WR Andre Johnson is, and they definitely know and want to know more DE JJ Watt. So Arian Foster you have been noticed, it might have been better off for you and your teammates that you were not noticed or recognized.
The Patriots are on a mission. They have a ton to prove to themselves and to their place when it comes to the upper echelon of dynasties. Patriots QB Tom Brady for the most part has had a stellar career but of late he has been mediocre in the playoffs. Brady has been human in his last 12 games (6-6 record). That is the exact definition of mediocre. This doesn’t set well with one of the most driven guys in the NFL. Brady still to this day talks about being overlooked and pushed aside in the draft and at Michigan. Brady knows a 4th ring can silence the critics. Lets be honest, ever since he has been considered an elite quarterback, he has not won a title. I am not saying when the Patriots were winning championship that Brady was a game manager but the team was more balanced. The defense aided Brady in winning. I think this might be this closest thing to balanced in quite some time. Brady might not think so but he needs the help. The defense and special teams need to be present and make plays to take pressure off its future Hall of Fame QB.
Prediction, the Patriots are favored by 9.5 and unlike the other underdog team yesterday the Ravens the Texans do not have all the weapons that the Ravens have and also they are playing a Patriot team that has not seen their playmaking tight ends on the field at the same time all season. I do not think that the Texans have the personnel to stop all the weapons. Maybe not a blowout but not a game that we have to worry going into overtime.
Patriots 33 Texans 21