CHIEFS (+4.5) over PatriotsLet’s make one thing clear, I am not supporting the Chiefs here just because they have won 11 straight games and they whitewashed the Texans last week. But then again, you’d be a fool not to want to lean on them because of such reasons, given that shutouts are rare to come by in the playoffs and winning 11 consecutive games after a five-game losing streak is simply extraordinary, to say the least.
PACKERS (+7) over CardinalsGreen Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has been famous for his “Discount Double Check” touchdown celebration, and after his bright performance against the Redskins last week, it feels like the he and the Packers will be in Check for some Double Discount in this week’s NFL lines. Trumpet all you want about Washington’s leaky defense, but the fact remains that the Green Bay team we saw last Sunday was an entirely different team from the one we saw struggling down the stretch of the season. This was a playoff-tested squad that looked every bit as good as it did when it opened up the season’s NFL odds with five wins in six games, including striking victories over the now high-riding playoff duo of Seattle and Kansas City. If we can see more of that Green Bay team this week, the Cardinals will definitely have their work cut out for them. Yes, I know you all watched Arizona destroy Green Bay on National TV in Week 16. Rodgers was a pale shadow of the top-tier QB we’ve known him to be on that day, playing under constant pressure as he got sacked eight sacks and lost two fumbles, both of which were returned for touchdowns. In fact, the final score of 38-8 is what I’d call a big let-off, it could have actually been worse. In Green Bay’s defense, though, Rodgers was missing both of his starting tackles in that Week 16 clash. That won’t be the case this week, as tackle Brian Bulaga came back to the team last week, which evidently saw an improved protection for Rodgers. The other tackle, David Bakhtiari, could also be back in the lineup this week, something that could be a huge difference-maker for their protection schemes. Meanwhile, Arizona lost pro bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu in that win over Green Bay, and his absence was gruesomely felt the week after, as the Cardinals suffered a 30-point home loss to the Seahawks in Week 17. With Mathieu still out, it doesn’t look like the Cardinals will be having it any better.
Even more notably, Arizona’s quarterback Carson Palmer (impressive as he’s been this season) has NEVER won a playoff game in his 13-year NFL career. His Coach Bruce Arians has also NEVER won a playoff game as head coach; last year, his Palmer-less Arizona team got blown out in their playoff opener. So whereas I know that Green Bay’s stellar show against Washington must be taken within a pinch a pinch of salt because the Redskins aren’t what you’d call a great team; I won’t be doing my job diligently if I didn’t warn you about the Arizona’s rotten-egg playoff record that could easily blow up your face this Saturday.