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Analysis & Picks For Sunday's NFL Divisional Round Games

By the end of the evening, we’ll know how the conference championships shape up. Here’s a look at how I see today’s action playing out: 

Green Bay at Dallas -5.5, 52.5

The Green Bay Packers ride a 7-game winning streak into this one during which they are 6-1 against the spread. It’s not often you find a team so scorching hot approaching touchdown underdog status up against a rookie quarterback. 

But Dallas was the team to beat in the NFC for most of the season and Dak Prescott seems to have forgotten that rookies aren’t supposed to light the league on fire. 

A huge factor is the injury to Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who will sit with broken ribs. Nelson is a do-everything kind of receiver who opens up the whole field for Green Bay and he will  be sorely missed. I believe we’d see the Cowboys closer to field-goal favorites if he were playing. 

The good news for Green Bay is their running game has improved dramatically late in the season and the mediocre Dallas pass rush should be manageable for the Packers offensive line. But the Packers will need to overcome a tough road environment and a banged up secondary that I think is going to struggle mightily to stop this Cowboys offense. 

Rookie QBs are 8-15 straight up in the playoffs since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 but I expect Prescott to have a strong game behind a Dallas O-line that has been amazing all season. I do, however, think Prescott to throw OVER ½ interceptions is a great prop at plus money. Rookie QBs have 35 interceptions compared to just 22 touchdowns in those games and I think we may see some nerves at some point. 

My pick: Packers +5.5 (and I think the Packers make a solid teaser option with the Steelers if you’re unsure about today’s action.)  

Pittsburgh at Kansas City -1.5, 44.5 

This game was moved back to 8:20 p.m. ET due to ice storm conditions but the schedule move had almost no impact on the point spread. As of Sunday morning, you could find this line at a pick if you are interested in K.C. but most spots had the Chiefs as small faves. 

One of the biggest mismatches - and the one I feel that will ultimately decide this game - is the Steelers’ offensive line versus the Chiefs’ defensive front. Le’Veon Bell amassed 835 yards over his last six games for an average of 139 yards per game during that stretch. BeIl also has seven touchdowns since Nov. 20 and if you’ve been watching the Steelers, his play looks even more incredible than his numbers suggest. 

The Chiefs rank 26th against the run this season and on a cold and possibly wet day, they are going to need to find a way to stall Pittsburgh’s running game. The Steelers racked up 149 yards rushing in the first meeting this season, a 43-14 drubbing by Pittsburgh. 

Working in the Chiefs favor is the fact Andy Reid is 19-2 coming off a bye in his career and the Chiefs go up against a banged up Ben Roethlisberger, who aggravated an old foot injury last week against the Dolphins. 

Home field is a factor too, of course, but the Chiefs went just 3-5 against the spread at home this season vs. 6-2 against the spread on the road. The Steelers enter on a 6-1-1 against the spread streak and they went 5-3 against the spread on the road this season. 

My pick: Steelers +1.5 

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