It’s championship weekend. The top four teams survived this far and now are one win away from the Super Bowl. Who will make the grade? It’s anyone’s guess.
All odds courtesy of oddsshark.com
Sunday, January 22nd
Green Bay at Atlanta
Line: Falcons by 4½
Their last meeting was in week 8. It was a shootout with the Falcons winning narrowly 33-32. It’s gonna be a much tighter game this time around. The Atlanta defense has gotten stingier, disposing of Seattle last weekend giving up 208 total yards getting 3 sacks and intercepting Russell Wilson twice. Matt Ryan on the other hand, has proven why he should be named MVP of the league. With nearly 5,000 yards passing and an incredible 38/7 TD/Interception ratio, he stands to exploit the Green Bay secondary. Look for Devonta freeman to light up the Green Bay defensive line. And of course there’s the receiving corps, lots of options out there. It should be a cake walk being at home, right? Not so fast!
Since their loss to Washington in week 11, Green bay has been on a tear for the last two and a half months. Aaron Rodgers has thrown for over 4,400 yards 40 TD and only 7 interceptions during the regular season. Last week he got off to a quick start against Dallas 355 yards passing 2TD’s and was instrumental in the final drive to win the game. Using Ty Montgomery after the loss of Eddy Lacy has been very beneficial. Christine Michael also has helped. However, the loss of Jordy nelson is crucial and with Randal Cobb returning, it’s essential to keep the air attack going. The big question mark will be the Packers secondary. During the end of the game last weekend, they struggled against the Cowboys receivers, allowing 18 points in the second half. They can’t do that against the Falcons offense, or else it’s gonna be an ugly game.
As we said before, the Packers were our pre-season pick. If the game is close, which I anticipate, they can take it.
Smooth’s Pick – Green Bay (24-21)
Pittsburgh at New England
Line: Patriots by 5½
New England has been on a mission since day one of training camp. And once they were able to get three of four wins during the regular season, well just put the ball in Tom Brady’s hands and he’ll make it work. What’s been impressive has been Brady’s accuracy. 28 TD’s 286.2 passing yards per game this season and only 2 INT all year long. However, the Houston Texans were able to frustrate him enough to put a scare in Patriots fans, getting picked off twice in the New England victory last week.. LeGarrette Blount has also been a huge factor in offensive attack finding the end zone 18 times. The acquisition of Martellus Bennett has been beneficial to the receivers. What‘s also been really been impressive has been the Patriots defense. Trey Flowers and Chris Long have 11 sacks between them and Malcom Floyd leads the team in INT’s with 4.
The three headed monster of Ben Rothlisberger, running back LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown will need to find the end zone, unlike their win verses Kansas City last weekend. With Bell, they can control the clock with the run game. The last time these two teams met, “Big Ben” was on the sidelines nursing an injured knee in a 27-16 loss to the Patriots. It will be a different outcome this time around, for sure. Here’s an ugly stat. In 4 games at Gillette stadium, New England has won all four verses Pittsburgh. In fact the only win the Steelers have verses New England was in 2008 and Matt Cassel was the QB. Winning ugly is what the Steelers is going to have to on Sunday.
We also picked the Steelers in the pre-season, and we’re going to stick with them, even though winning Foxborough will be tough. Stats are meant to be broken.
Smooth’s Pick – Pittsburgh (27-23)
Now with all of our picks, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. If you have a gambling problem, then please seek help by going to gamblers anonymous dot org.
And that’s Championship week on smooth’s football picks. We’ll be back in two weeks with our extensive analysis and Super Bowl pick. Hope to see you then.