After the most lopsided Wild Card series since 1981, we’re surely in store for a better Divisional round. Aren’t we? Last week was largely disappointing because we only really had one game that even remotely resembled a contest, and even that ended up as a massacre. Still, these matchups don’t appear like they’ll disappoint. Let’s tuck in:
The key battle everyone is speaking about is the Seattle ‘Legion of Boom’ up against Matt Ryan. This won’t be the deciding factor though – Seattle containing Vic Beasley is the big issue here. Yes, Sherman v Jones will be intriguing but Beasley’s become an elite 4-3 defensive end seemingly overnight and justified the draft faith the organisation had in him last year.
Everyone is aware of the struggles faced by that Seattle offensive line, and if Ofedi and co aren’t quick into their base stance, Wilson will have to try break contain. People often think of Seattle as grinders on offense, but they’re about as West Coast as you’ll find in the passing game. Deep shots are what Wilson feeds on; opening up the rockets due to a ground-and-pound that works to perfection. The overs is a good bet here, but I’m confident in Seattle’s winning mentality and post-season experience. They’ll go close.
This is a little out of the ordinary, but it’s my only betting angle. I find it hard to back either way of a fifteen point spread. Tom Brady will go down as, maybe, the greatest quarterback of all time, but his protection won’t have been tested like this for most of the season and should Houston expose a weakness, expect New England to kick a lot of field goals.
Meanwhile, you could gather ten of your mates and play defense against this Houston team. Brock Osweiler is still completely lose in Bill O’Brien’s option-integrated playbook. He doesn’t have the trust of his receivers and unless their scores come from defense, I can’t see them picking up many points either.
I could go into specifics here, but I’m one of those that believes defense and special teams win you a Super Bowl and I’m not going away from that mantra now. Pittsburgh’s lack of playmakers outside of Ryan Shazier is a major concern. Big Ben is injured, no matter how Mike Tomlin wants to dress it up, and the one thing that Kansas City have in abundance is edge pressure depth.
Alex Smith won’t commit a turnover and he now has legitimate burners in Tyreek Hill and Jeremy Maclin to open things up underneath for Travis Kelce in man coverage. They’ll win that battle every single time.
Andrew Cunneen’s top tips: