After this weekend, we’ll be down to the Final Four in the NFL. The winners of the four divisional-round games played will advance to the conference championship games next week for a chance to earn a berth in Super Bowl 53.
And, boy, are there some GREAT match ups!
With huge implications looming, PGA Tour caddies Joe Skovron, Mark Urbanek and Justin York, along with LPGA caddie Chris McCalmont, have taken a closer look and dissected each game.
Here’s how they see the divisional round playing out…
Indianapolis at Kansas City
Spread: KC -5.5
Skovron’s Pick: Kansas City
Why: In my opinion, this is the best team in the AFC against the hottest team. Indy flew under the radar after that bad start, but everyone is starting to realize how good this team is. Reich and Eberflus can obviously coach, Luck is back to being an elite QB, this offensive line is mauling people and Leonard is all over the place leading this defense. On the other side, we all know about KC’s offense, but I think the key to the game is that defensive front. We know they will get after the QB on passing downs, but will they be able to stop this Indy running attack. All that said, majority of bets are on Colts so far with the sharps leaning that way as well. The line has somehow gone up a half point. Indy has been great ATS lately (4-1) and KC hasn’t. All that said, I would love to take Indy, but I’m going with KC.
Urbanek’s Pick: Indy
Why: As I said last week, this Indy team is legit. I expect this well-rounded team to throw up some points against a very average D. I know KC can be a tough place to play, but Luck can handle it. Indy 30, KC 27.
York’s Pick: Indy
Why: Indy is the hottest team in football right now, so it’s hard to bet against them. Andrew Luck seems to have the right recipe for victory. The Chiefs had last week off and should be rested but the way the Colts defense has been playing you can’t bet against them. Wouldn’t be surprised if they win this outright. Colts all day!
McCalmont’s Pick: Indy
Why: This is the hardest of the games to pick because not only are the Colts the hottest team in the playoffs, but because it’s hard to know which KC team will show up. The one that took the league by storm, under Mahomes?; or, the one that has not won a home playoff game since 1993 (0-6 in that span at home, as well as 3-11 overall and 1-4 under Andy Reid)? And the game could be affected by weather. I also don’t trust the Chiefs’ defense. Additionally, as we saw last week, playoff football is different, as Dallas scored the most points, 24, and quarterbacks making their first playoff starts were 0-3. As a result, I will take the most complete team, the Colts, to not only cover, but win outright.
Dallas at LA Rams
Spread: LA -7
Skovron’s Pick: Rams
Why: This is one of those spreads that really makes you think about this game. The Rams are the better team and I think they get it done at home, but can Dallas grind it out and keep it within seven? I love watching Smith and Vander Esch every time I turn on a Cowboy game. They fly side to side as we saw last week when they locked down that Seattle offense. The Rams are loaded with talent, have great coaching and are fresh. I think they cover.
Urbanek’s Pick: Dallas
Why: The Dallas D is good enough to keep this close with Goff struggling. A few long, time-consuming drives for the Cowboys will take the wind out of LA. I like the Rams to win a close one, so seven is a ton in my mind. Dallas 17, LA 20.
York’s Pick: Dallas
Why: The boys are back in the divisional round, which hasn’t been kind to them over the years. They go up against the tough, scoring offense of the NFC West champion Rams. The Rams have been vulnerable against the run, which is the Cowboys’ bread and butter. I actually expect a low-scoring game coming down the wire with a field-goal separating the two teams. Put your money on the Boys and hold your breathe.
McCalmont’s Pick: Dallas
Why: Dallas has the best defense of the remaining playoff teams, so seven points is a lot to cover, especially for a Rams team that has all the pressure, because it lost last year at home in the second round, as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dallas won outright.
LA Chargers at New England
Spread: New England -4
Skovron’s Pick: Chargers
Why: The game of the week for me. One of my most vivid memories of going to Bolts games was when we lost at home in the divisional round in a shocker to the Pats. My dad and I didn’t talk the whole way home. They followed it up by beating us in the AFC Championship the next year. Brady is 7-0 against Rivers, the Pats are undefeated at home this year. They haven’t been the dominate Pats, but we all know they bring it in the playoffs. The Bolts have had a great year. They are good in all phases of the game and are undefeated outside of LA this year. Will be interesting to see if they go with seven DBs again this week since they are so lean at LB. The Chargers have the players to win this game and make a run to the Super Bowl. I think this game comes down to the O-line pass protecting on offense and Bosa/Ingram getting after Brady on the other side. Tom and Bill are the GOATs but the Chargers cover this week.
Urbanek’s Pick: LA
Why: It’s time for Rivers to make his Super Bowl run. This is not the same Patriots team we’re used to. Gronk is a shell of his former self, Gordon is gone and the D is average. LA 27, NE 20.
York’s Pick: LA
Why: The Chargers, in my opinion, are the best team in football. They will go into the hostel and forecasted chilly environment of Foxboro for a shot at the championship round. This will be the best game to watch this weekend with two of the league’s elite quarterbacks going at it. I think this game comes down to a 50-yard attempt by Gostkowski at the buzzer. Take the points and enjoy the show.
McCalmont’s Pick: LA
Why: Not only do the Chargers cover, I think they win outright because they are simply the better team, as this has to be one of the weakest Pats teams in recent memory.
Philadelphia at New Orleans
Spread: New Orleans -8
Skovron’s Pick: New Orleans
Why: This is the NFC version of the Chiefs-Indy game. Best team in NFC vs. hottest team in a very tough place to play. The point spread seems pretty accurate at reflecting the difference in these teams. The sharps have bet it down from 10 to 8 so far. I went against the Foles magic last week and I was wrong. The difference this week is that Brees and Michael Thomas are on the other side. The Saints are a complete team and should win this game. Eight points is quite a bit in a playoff game but I’m going Saints.
Urbanek’s Pick: Philly
Why: Not predicting an outright win here, but until they lose, I’m believing in Foles magic to at least keep it tight. This will be a brutal test for the beat-up Philly D, but the champs will rise to defend their title. Philly 20, NO 26.
York’s Pick: Philly
Why: This is the toughest game to handicap of the four. You don’t know which Nick Foles or Drew Brees will show up. The Saints have not been able to score the last few games like they had been most of the season. And Foles seems to know how to win playoff games. I still think the Saints win this one but only by a score. Bettors will be biting their nails on this one till :00. Bet the Eagles and pray.
McCalmont’s Pick: New Orleans
Why: The Eagles have finally met their match and Foles’ second magical run comes to a crashing halt. While the Saints won’t win 48-7, like their first meeting back in November, this game to me is the easiest of the four to pick and would be the most surprising to see the favorite lose outright, simply because of the Saints’ dominance at home, in the playoffs, under Brees and Payton (5-0).