Divisional Games – Sunday Previews

I took the Green Bay at Dallas game, which should be an absolute cracker and left Jay with the Steelers at the Chiefs because I wrote about the Steelers last week, we thought it would add a bit of a new perspective on the team, especially as I think they’re filthy cheating scum with no morals (See Joey Porter), as it turns out that’s now the late late match,now taking place at 120am GMT because of ICEPOCALYPSE which could supposedly make the surrounding area a tad difficult for the public, can’t believe they didn’t think of the UK folk who were really looking forward to this matchup. By the time a lot of you read this the Patriots and the Falcons will have progressed to the Championship match, the Patriots winning 37-6 and the Falcons winning a cracker against the Seahawks – 28-26 (written on Saturday night…) So, on to tonights matches…

The Green Bay Packers and the Steelers are the hottest teams in the league at the moment, and the Pack travel into the number one seeded Dallas Cowboys as 4.5 point underdogs, with the desert folk expecting around 52 points!

A certain Aaron Rodgers said half way through the season that they’d run the table, and while it wasn’t exactly something that only the great Nostradamus could predict, given that he’s an elite QB and they had a cushy schedule, he has massively impressed and made a late run for possible regular season MVP. During that run he’s gone 22-0 TDs to INTs during this winning run, in 8 games. That ain’t bad. It helps that he has a pretty darn impressive offensive line who give him an age to find open receivers, and although you know he’s going to do the same spin move every time there’s pressure, he’s incredibly elusive, he threw a TD to Jordy Nelson after 8 seconds the other week, that’s more than enough time for guys to get open. Unfortunately for him Jordy Nelson is out this week with a few broken ribs after taking a hit from Ex-Bengal (so obviously instantly a filthy animal) Leon Hall. That’s a big loss for them, he and Davante Adams have been the best 1-2 this season. However, in his absence last week Randall Cobb stepped up (Glad I drafted him in fantasy and he was more than useless) and got himself a tidy 3 TDs and 116 yards. Can he step up to that level against a team that know he’ll be one of the two main targets? Well, he’s apparently fully fit, and one of the best throwing to him, so who knows. Adams himself beat him on yardage last week with 125, and a TD of his own, and he’s been doing it all season. He will drop a TD every other week, but he will also score them. Without Jordy there it will likely be up to Geronimooooooooooooo Allison to step up and provide a third option in the passing game. He’s a decent enough backup, and scored in the last game of the regular season, unfortunately his odds aren’t big enough for me to recommend him, was hoping closer to 5/1. The run game it looks like will be Ty Montgomery and probably more of Christine Michael than we’ve seen since he joined them, Montgomery got a bit banged up last week and C Woke looked good again, so he could have a more prominent part. Then you’ve got the white wonder Aaron Ripkowski smashing the ball in from a couple of yards out. He’s a beast. I mean he’s no Rex Burkhead, but he does what he’s asked. Jared Cook is their tight end and he’s been a big part of them turning around their season, he also won us some money last week, so i’ll be looking at him again this providing his yards are low enough. The Cowboys secondary has done well enough this year, performing above their perceived skill level, but against Rodgers, they could struggle.

The Cowboys are coming off their bye week, and are fully fit, they’ll be led, as they should be the rookie Dak Prescott. He has dealt with everything thrown at him so far, but the playoffs are a different beast. They’re one off games, where it all counts… Will he be able to make it work when it counts?! Well… Yes… is more than likely the answer, nothing has phased him so far. The worry would be, if the Packers get out to an early lead, and he throws and INT, will the crowd shout for Romo? Well, whatever way, Dak deserves to lead this team. He and Zeke have been amazing this season, Zeke would of been very close to the rookie rushing record should he have played in the final game of the season instead of having 2 weeks out, and despite a “minor car crash” this week he’s reported to feeling as good as he felt at the start of the season. Which wouldn’t surprise me. The guy is a beast. The Cowboys won at Lambeau earlier in the season against the supposed leagues best run game, and Zeke ran all over them, even jumping some of them. He went for 174 total yards, but somehow no TDs, and while the Packers have improved immensely since then, they will struggle to get close to stopping the two rookies again this time around. Their secondary is not very good, and with Dez plotting to avenge his “catch, no catch” from just over 2 years ago, he will be more than determined to prove the league wrong. I don’t like him, I don’t rate him as highly as everyone else seems to do, but he’s a physical specimen and I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to get his own way against the GB defence. Alongside him is Cole Beasley and erm, Brice Butler? Beasley was having a career year halfway through, but since Dak has found Dez they’ve gone away from him a bit. Butler and Terrance Williams add a good extra option should those two not be available. In fact I haven’t even mentioned Jason Witten at tight end, who has been a favourite target for Dak when no-one else is open. Dallas average around 30 at home. The Packers have scored 30+ in their last 5 games. This should be a cracker of a match.

  • Packers +6 points – 10/11 – 2pts
  • Randall Cobb o54.5 yards – 10/11 (BetVictor) – 2pts
  • Allison anytime – 3/1 (Skybet) – 1pt

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs – Chiefs are 1.5 point faves, the line is 44.5

Now this one, could be outstanding. Like really outstanding. The utter demolition of the Dolphins by the Steelers was equal parts impressive and equal parts boring. The tone was set by Antonio Brown screaming ahead for 120 odd yards and 2 touchdowns in the first quarter. From there, they simply leaned on Lev Bell to ground away another 100+ scrimmage yard performance and two touchdowns of his own. At one point, Bell rushed 10 times in a row and scored 1 of his touchdowns on the 10th attempt. Those two are arguably the best at their respective positions once they get going and much like the Falcons, it is really unfair for them to have such a plethora of talent. Theirs depth doesn’t run as deep as the Falcons but are no less as deadly. You could argue that DeAngelo Williams is the best back up running back in the league and I honestly find it bizarre that despite how good he is, he doesn’t get ANY time on the field when Bell is playing. Seems like you would want to keep Bell as fresh as possible as and when you can and spotting him with Williams is a great option to have. Regardless, the one part of the Steelers this year has been the lack of production from any receiver not called Antonio Brown. 4 players total just over 1300 yards and Brown himself had just under 1300. Next best catcher? Lev Bell with over 600 yards on a monstrous 75 catches. Bear in mind Bell missed 4 games in total this year his 1884 scrimmage yards and 9 TDs is downright ridiculous and only bested by David Johnson and his equally ridiculous 2118 yards and 20 TDs. If you average that out over 16 games Lev Bell virtually destroys all known scrimmage records. Ladarius Green is the key for the Steelers here. If he can play, and give them the legitimate 3rd threat that has been holding them back all year and really open this game up, especially in the middle of the field – But he won’t be playing. Strangely, Ben Rothlisberger hasn’t played that well this year and their hot streak only came about when they started to lean on Bell’s legs and not Ben’s arm. Even last week Rothlisberger he made a few strange decisions and his interceptions all year have been suspect. One thing that you cannot do against this Chiefs team, is turn the ball over. The Chief’s happened to lead the league in turnovers (18 picks and 16 fumble recoveries) and usually turned those turnovers into points. On paper, the D is average. In scoring, yards allowed and virtually everything else but those turnovers, shift entire games in their favour. Extra possessions, extra points. All makes an astronomical difference in the NFL and no one does it better. Again on paper, these two teams are similar in yardage, points, you name it, they are pretty equal. The one thing though that the Chiefs have been missing for years is the ability to make the explosive play. They got that this year in the shape of rookie sensation Tyreek Hill. He can score from anywhere on the field and has touchdowns in all phases of the game. Having a game changer like that opens up the entire field for all the other players and they have good players everywhere else too. Swiss army knife Spencer Ware is the main guy at RB but he has been relatively poor over the bulk of the season. Pretty consistent with his yards though so would expect his average of 85 scrimmage yards to continue this week. They will need a big game from him this week and they have to give him his 20 touches in order to produce  Travis Kelce caught fire in the second half of the season racking up 5 100 yard games in that time span and 1125 yards in total. He will also be key in winning this game. Big games from Kelce and Ware should then open the game up for guys like Hill, Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas to explode against this promising Steelers secondary. Be interesting to see how Coach Reid deploys Alex Smith who has won two of the best games I have ever seen in the playoffs. This game manager moniker should be thoroughly dispelled now as he can certainly launch the rock as and when called upon and has proved to everyone that he can win in a big spot. He doesn’t have the gaudy numbers like the other premier passers in the league but you could do a lot worse behind center. This game has the hallmarks of a shootout and with big plays, come big potential mistakes so this could be the best game of the weekend. Playing in Kansas City is a huge advantage and the Steelers are well known for their distinct drop in production playing away from home. Rothlisbergers QB rating drops from 116 down to 81 when away from Heinz Field. That sort of difference cannot be ignored as that has trickled down through the rest of the team. That being said, their success hasn’t been on Big Ben’s shoulders but on the legs of Lev Bell and a suddenly violent and potent defense. That my friends, is playoff football and you cannot count the Steelers out at all. This one is genuinely a coin flip. For me Kansas City would be the safer pick, the Steelers the riskier one but the one that could pay off.

  • Big Ben u263.5 pass yards – 10/11 (BetVictor) – 3pts
  • Alex Smith o15.5 rush yards – 17/20 (Ladbrokes) – 2pts
  • Lev Bell o23.5 rush attempts – 5/6 – (365) – 2pts

12 points outlay on todays.

So that rounds out the divisional weekend.

Next previews -: Chiefs v Patriots, Green Bay v Atlanta… Guaranteeeeeeeeed…. Well. We’ll see.

Good luck if you follow anything and as always, thanks for reading.

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