Day 2 of the NFL Divisional Round kicks off this Sunday, matching up the 1 vs. 6 seeds from each conference. I am looking to bounce back after going 1-3 in the Wild Card Round.
Carolina: I have never seen a team that went 15-1 in the regular season, and a quarterback who accounted for 45 combined passing and rushing touchdowns, get such little respect. Carolina outscored their opponents by 192 points. That is 12 points per game. They are the Golden State Warriors of the NFL.
Seattle: Seattle successfully transitioned from a run first attack, to a passing attack this year. Or, in other words, the transition from it being Marshawn Lynch’s team, to Russell Wilson’s team, is complete. It will once again be their defense, though, that will be the key to their success.
The Pick: Take Carolina and gladly give the 1.5 points. Blair Walsh let Seattle off the hook last week, but they will not be so lucky again.
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh was all set to make a Super Bowl run before they started dropping like flies. First it was Le’Veon Bell. Then it was DeAngelo Williams. Now Antonio Brown has been ruled out for Sunday, and Big Ben’s effectiveness is in serious question with a shoulder injury. This is not your father’s Steel Curtain Steelers D, so the injuries on offense might be too much to overcome.
Denver: Denver has quarterback questions of their own, having just handed the reins back over to Peyton Manning in the 2nd half of the final game of their season. They will likely continue to rely on their run game to carry the offense. But it is their #1 ranked defense that has really been the backbone of this team all season, and will have to stymie Pittsburgh’s passing attack in order to advance.
The Pick: Take Pitt plus the 7 points. I think Denver will win this game, but do not have the offensive firepower to cover the spread.
By Michael Halpern