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Divisional Playoff Pick
By Jason Green
This game is all about Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense, which ranks 1st in the league in ppg, facing the Seahawks and their defense, which ranks 3rd in the league in opponents' ppg. The Seahawks shut down the Lions in the Wild Card game holding them to only 6 points and while they did beat the Falcons early in the season that game was in Seattle. The Seahawks were great at home this season, but they were only 3-4-1 on the road.
Matt Ryan may be the front-runner for the MVP awards, but he could use a win in this game. In his career he only has one playoff wins and in the post-season he has struggled. He led an Atlanta offense that ranks 3rd in the league in passing yards per game and the Falcons' rushing offense also is legit ranking 5th in rushing yards per game. Those units will have to play to offset their D, which only ranks 27th in opponents ppg.
The road team has covered the spread in 4 of the last 5 games between these teams.
The Seahawks beat the Lions 26-6 in the Wild Card round where they covered the spread as an 8-point home favorite.
In their last game of the regular season the Falcons were at home and beat the New Orleans Saints 38-32, but failed to cover as a 7.5-point favorite.
The Seahawks dominated the Lions in the Wild Card game out-gaining them 387 yards to 231 yards and they held Detroit to only six points and 13 first downs. One of the main reasons they won is that they ran the ball well for a change with Thomas Rawls blowing up for 161 yards. If he can run the ball well again and Russell Wilson, who passed for 224 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT in the Detroit game, has a solid game the Seahawks will be tough to beat.
Atlanta only ranks 28th in the league defending the pass and 17th defending the run.
Ryan had a big season ranking 2nd in the league in passing yards and his top target is WR Julio Jones, who ranked 2nd in receiving yards. RB Devonta Freeman rushed for 1079 yards on the season with Tevin Coleman chiming in for 520 rushing yards. Ryan and company have to avoid the turnovers, as they committed two in the earlier loss to the Seahawks while Seattle had none in the 2-point loss.
Seattle ranks 8th in the NFL in pass D and 7th in run D, so they are a very balanced unit.
Seattle is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff games, and in they have an Under record of 11-5 in their last 16 games facing a team that has a winning record.
Atlanta is 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games, 0-6 ATS in their last 6 playoff games, and in their last 8 games at home the posted total has gone Over every time.
Bettorsworld Pick - We'd compare this game to the Packers/Giants game last week. It was the Green Bay offense, at home, going up against perhaps the best defense in the NFL in the Giants. Offense won that one and we think offense will win this one as well.
When you take the Seahawks away from CenturyLink Field, they lose some of their magic and become less than average as shown by their 3-4-1 road record.
The Seahawks offensive yards per point number on the road this year was a pathetic 21, the worst of all the teams playing this weekend. Compare that to the Falcons, the best offense in the NFL, with a home yards per point number of 12.5. That's a massive difference folks. Remember, the yards per point number shows how far a team must travel to score 1 point.
Seattle makes up for a bit of that offensive difference on the defensive side of the ball and the Falcons do have the worst defensive number of all playoff teams remaining.
Our model also likes the Falcons, predicting a 10 point Falcons win, regardless of the time frame parameters used. Falcons -4.5
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