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Against the Spread

Conference Championship Picks

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff went 3-2 in the Divisional Round.  Jeremy had winners on the Ravens, Cowboys and under GB/Dallas.  He fell short with the Panthers and Broncos.  Jeremy finished the week at plus 40 units.  Jeff hit with the Cowboys, Seahawks and under Denver/Indy.  His losses came on the Patriots and Broncos.  Jeff finished the week at plus 70 units.  Jeremy currently has a 10 unit lead on Jeff heading into the next round.  Will Jeremy maintain his lead?  Let's get to the picks for Championship Weekend.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2 Million Fantasy Football league for Championship Weekend's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts Sunday, January 18th at 3:05pm ET. Here's the link.

 

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (-7.5)

Jeff: The Seahawks defeated the Panthers last week by the score of 31-17 to set up a rematch of their Week 1 matchup against the Packers.  The Panthers offense surprisingly moved the football well on the Seahawks defense.  The Panthers actually outgained the Seahawks in total yards 362 to 348.  However, key turnovers were the difference as Kam Chancellor's 90 yard interception return for a touchdown was the dagger.  The Packers defeated the Cowboys 26-21 as they needed a rally in the second half to secure the victory.  The Packers were beaten by the Seahawks in Week 1 36-16.  I think that game will be a positive for them as they prepare for Sunday's game.  Look for the Packers to make some necessary adjustments from that game.  The injury to QB Aaron Rodgers which is impacting his mobility is definitely a concern, but I do think he plays well here.  This is definitely a major challenge for this offense, but they have the wide receivers that can make plays in the passing game against this top notch Seahawks secondary.  WRs Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams will all need to be at their best.  If the Packers can get anything out of their running game with RB Eddie Lacy and RB James Starks, that could provide some openings for some plays down the field in the passing game.  The Panthers actually finished with 132 yards rushing for the game last week.  On the other side of the ball, the Packers defense can't allow RB Marshawn Lynch to go off here.  In the end, I don't think the Packers win this game, but I think 7.5 points is a lot of points to give in a Championship game against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers.

Pick: Packers +7.5, 50 units

Jeremy: One week after squeaking by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional round, the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has been battling a calf injury and returned to practice in a limited capacity on Thursday after not practicing at the beginning of the week. Despite the injury, Rodgers completed 24 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns against Dallas. He was aided by a big game from RB Eddie Lacy who ran for over 100 yards on 19 carries along with WR’s Davante Adams and Randall Cobb who each eclipsed the 100 yard receiving mark. The Seahawks meanwhile were very efficient in a 31-17 defeat of the Carolina Panthers. Russell Wilson showed why he is one of the top QB’s in the league as he passed for three touchdowns on 15 completions. Generally a threat to use his legs as well as his arm, Wilson was able to manage the game from inside the pocket and allow the defense to do their job as they pressured Cam Newton all day and forced him into two interceptions, one of which was returned 90 yards for a touchdown by Kam Chancellor. Green Bay is 4-4 on the road while Seattle sits at 7-1 at home including a 36-16 victory over the Packers in Week 1. Despite having a huge game last week, I don’t see Rodgers or Lacy having the same success on the road against the league’s top ranked defense. I do anticipate Seattle using their league leading rushing attack more in this game than they did last week as injured or not, they don’t want to get into a passing battle with Rodgers and the Packers. Look for the Seahawks to limit Lacy’s effectiveness and make the Green Bay offense one dimensional allowing their front seven to put pressure on Rodgers with his limited mobility. Seattle wins this game going away buoyed by their home field advantage.

Pick: Seahawks -7.5, 125 units

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-7.5)

Jeff: The Patriots survived a scare last week against the Ravens as a late touchdown pass by QB Tom Brady was the difference.  It was surprisingly the first time the Patriots were leading the entire game.  The Patriots defense didn't play well at all as they allowed QB Joe Flacco to throw for 292 yards and four touchdowns, and RB Justin Forsett to rush for 129 yards.  The Patriots defense will need to play better here if they hope to advance to the Super Bowl.  The Colts upset the Broncos by the score of 24-13.  QB Andrew Luck had a solid game, but it was the defense that was the story as they held the Broncos offense to only 13 points in their building.  The Colts defense has only allowed an average of 11.5 points a game during this year's playoff.  This unit is clearly playing its best football of the season right now.  The Patriots ran all over the Colts back in Week 11 in Indianapolis.  Look for the Colts to use that game as motivation as I expect them to play much better in this contest.  Look for QB Andrew Luck to spread the ball around and move the ball effectively down the field.  RB Daniel Herron has played well running the football, and catching it as well.  Herron has an incredible eighteen catches so far this post-season which gives this offense yet another weapon in the passing game as defenses need to respect his receiving skills.  I think the Colts give the Patriots all they can handle on Sunday.  The Patriots are a team that just doesn't cover in the playoffs.  In their last 14 playoff games, they are only 3-11 against the spread.  I do think QB Tom Brady will find a way to get this team a win here and back to the Super Bowl, but look for the Colts to keep this game inside the number.

 

Pick: Colts +7.5, 75 units

Jeremy: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick head into their ninth AFC Championship game as they host the Indianapolis Colts. Last week the Colts shocked the Denver Broncos as they knocked off Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver. QB Andrew Luck had his streak of playoff games with more than 300 yards passing snapped as he threw for 265 and was picked off twice. Luck and the Colts were aided by a dismal performance by Manning who showed his age along with struggling with injuries. Luck will have his hands full against the Patriots defense who ranked 9th in the league against the pass and gave up less than 17 PTS/G in the second half of the season. They will have to play better than they did against the Ravens though if they expect to win this game. After essentially having two weeks off, the Patriots defense was gashed by RB Justin Forsett for 129 yards. They also gave up four passing touchdowns to Joe Flacco without sacking him once. I expect the New England defense to come out more prepared for this game and will look for Chandler Jones and Jaime Collins to get pressure on Luck forcing him to dump the ball off more than looking downfield for his primary weapon, TY Hilton. Defensively, the Colts improved significantly throughout the regular season and have now given up 23 points total in the playoffs after giving up an average of 23 during the regular season. I do think those numbers are a bit skewed as they beat a hapless Cincinnati team and an ineffective Broncos team. The Patriots have won the last five meetings between these teams by an average of 18 points. I anticipate this game being much closer than that and the outcome may ultimately be sealed by a late game interception by Darrelle Revis or someone else in the Patriots’ secondary. Andrew Luck has gotten the Colts one step further in each of his three seasons but he falls short in this one in a close, back and forth battle.

 

Pick: Colts +7.5, 75 units

 

Packers at Seahawks (Total: 46.5 points)

 

Jeff: When these two teams met up in Week 1, the total was the same number as it is for Sunday's game which is 46.5.  That game accounted for a total of 52 points as it went over.  I think you'll see a similar result this go-around as well.  The Seahawks will have little trouble moving the ball on the Packers defense.  QB Russell Wilson does an excellent job spreading the ball around to his receivers, and obviously RB Marshawn Lynch should also have a solid day running the football after not getting a ton of carries last week against the Panthers.  He'll be fresh and ready to take on a full workload.  As for the Packers, they'll have to move the football and put points on the board in order to stay with the Seahawks offense.  This will obviously be a great challenge for them as they face the vaunted Seahawks defense, but I do expect QB Aaron Rodgers to play well in this game.  Throw in a special teams or defensive touchdown, and this game will go over the posted total.

 

Pick: Over 46.5 points, 100 units

Jeremy: The Seahawks host the Packers in what is sure to be an extremely raucous CenturyLink field. Seattle has given up just 16 PTS/G including 10 PTS/G in their last five home games. The Seahawks are healthier than any team left in the playoffs and will be able to deploy all their defensive weapons against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. It is well publicized that Rodgers has been dealing with a calf injury which severely limits his mobility. He was able to lead Green Bay to 26 points against the Cowboys but won’t hit that number against Seattle despite averaging more than 30 PTS/G in the regular season. Offensively, the Seahawks will rely on a run-heavy ball control game plan which will limit their scoring opportunities. They averaged 25 PTS/G during the regular season and I expect them to score under that number in this one against a significantly improved Packers defense. Weather shouldn’t be a factor as the forecast is for temps in the low 50’s with a slight chance of rain at kickoff. Look for this game to stay under the number as the Seahawks win 24-14.

 

Pick: Under 46.5 points, 50 units

 

 

Colts at Patriots (Total: 54.5 points)

 

 

Jeff: The Colts travel to Foxborough looking to continue their strong play in this year's playoffs.  The Patriots were fortunate to come away with a victory last week after giving up a ton of yards and points.  I do expect the Patriots defense to play much better against the Colts.  As for the Colts defense, it’s tough not to be impressed with their performances in the past two playoff games against the Broncos and Bengals.  This unit is playing with a lot of confidence right now.  They'll need another great performance here as they take on a Patriots offense that put up 42 points against them back in Week 11.  I do expect the Colts defense to play much better in this contest.  The total here at 54.5 I think is a bit on the high side for a Championship game.  I can see both teams scoring in the 20s, but staying under the total.  Look for the final score to be around 27-23.  Both Colts playoff games have gone under.  Look for that trend to continue here against the Patriots.

 

Pick: Under 54.5 points, 75 units

Jeremy: Andrew Luck leads the league’s top ranked pass attack in the regular season into Gillette to take on the league’s fourth ranked scoring offense.  New England averaged 29 PTS/G during the regular season and improved on that number in a 35-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens last week. Indy also averaged 29 PTS/G. Both teams rely far more on the pass than the run and there is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue on Sunday. These teams combined for 62 points in a Week 11 win by the Patriots. However, since that game including the playoffs, the Colts have given up 17 PTS/G after giving up an average of 23 PTS/G during the regular season. The Patriots defense was solid in the regular season especially against the pass where they were led by Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty. I expect the Patriots to move the ball in smaller chunks utilizing play action and screen passes to compensate for their lack of a running game. Indianapolis will look downfield to TY Hilton whenever they can and should find some opportunities if the taller Browner is lined up opposite against the smaller quicker Hilton. Weather shouldn’t be an issue in this game as the current forecast calls for temps in the 40’s with a chance of rain and light variable winds. Ultimately, I see this game being decided late and the final score being separated by less than a touchdown. Both teams will go to their air attacks early and often. Despite the Colts improved defense and the Patriots strong secondary, I see this game going over the posted number.

 

Pick: Over 54.5 points, 50 units

 

 

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.