Fearless Rick's NFL Football Picks - Divisional Early Games

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Divisional NFL Playoff Picks

All times Eastern

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Week 17 Results: Coin: 7-9; Rick: 8-8
Cumulative Complete Regular Season: Coin: 108-126-8; Rick: 117-117-8

Last week: Coin: 2-2; Rick: 2-2

Saturday, January 14

4:35 pm Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-4 1/2, 51) - Having a bye in the wild card round, the Falcons should be rested and the players ready for action with only nagging, minor injuries with which to deal. That, and home field give the Falcons a huge advantage in this divisional round meeting with the Seahawks.

Seattle dispatched with Detroit easily enough, though the final score of 26-6 may be a tad misleading. The Lions played possibly their worst game of the season, complete with at least five dropped passes, seven penalties for 68 yards (as compared to 6 for 40 for Seattle), and multiple mental errors by Detroit players and coaches. The refs also missed some obvious penalties by Seattle.

Bear in mind that this was a 10-6 game at the end of three quarters. Despite playing poorly on offense, Seattle didn't really dominate the Lions, who finally broke down completely in the fourth, when Seattle scored 16 points. In conclusion, the Seahawks, who won at home for the 10th consecutive time, were aided on defense by the Lion receivers and the refs. They'll face a better team when they visit Atlanta.

It's worth noting that the Falcons visited Seattle October 16, a week following a bye for the Seahawks. The result was a 26-24 victory for Seattle, so it's easy to see how the Falcons should be favored at home as the tables are completely turned around. It's the Falcons at home, after a bye, and they should score a major victory over a Seahawks team that isn't nearly as good as advertised.

Coin Flip: Atlanta

Rick's Pick: Falcons 34 Seahawks 20

8:15 pm Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-16, 44 1/2) - This one is too easy. While the Texans are getting a boatload of points and have the top defense in the league (301.3 yards per game), their offense is not up to par with any other playoff team. New England is rested and their defense has evolved into one of the best units in the NFL, leading the league in points allowed (15.6).

Houston's 27-14 win over the Raiders was not impressive from an offensive standpoint. Oakland started Connor Cook, the rookie out of Michigan State, at quarterback. Cook tossed three picks, enough to tip the scales against any team. Don't expect the Texans to intercept any of Tom Brady's passes.

While it may be tempting to take the huge point spread and the Texans, it would be a fool's task to actually think New England isn't going to win this game. The only question is by how much? Astute handicappers are going to side with the Patriots and hope that they limit Houston to a low number of scoring chances. Unless the weather is a serious factor (hail, wind, blizzard), all indications point to a New England victory.

Coin Flip: Houston

Rick's Pick: Patriots 34 Texans 10

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