Seattle over Atlanta: I’ll start with the shortest one. Seattle is on a hot streak right now, and in this blog post (https://turpterritory.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/on-the-falcons-so-called-elite-qbs-tebow-to-the-jags-and-the-holidays/), I explain why I’ll bet against Atlanta all the way until they win a Super Bowl. Pick: Seattle
Denver over Baltimore: Last week, I discussed how depleted, aging and on-the-decline the Ravens’ defence is, but they were playing the Bengals, so meh! This week, the bad state of their defence is a real problem facing Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ O. Besides, that Ravens O-Line is going to need some serious help to block Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. I think the Broncos are just superior, plus the game’s in Denver. Pick: Denver.
New England over Houston: The Bengals’ D, which might be better than the Pats’, gave real headaches to Houston last week. Houston’s offence is so heavily dependent on them successfully running the outside zone that a big game for Vince Wilfork and ILBs Mayo and Hightower could completely derail their plans. Last week, the Bengals did it and Houston couldn’t move the ball. I think it happens again this week. Moreover, the problem with Houston’s D is that if you block JJ Watt, the rest of the unit is nothing to brag about. I think the Pats will minimize Watt’s impact. He might annoy them a bit, but I see the Pats spreading out the Houston back 7 and picking them apart. Pick: New England
San Fran over Green Bay: Did the Niners peak at the wrong time? Maybe, but I think the matchup with the Packers favours them. There’s no need to worry about making the Packers’ offence 1-dimensional; it already is. Then, there’s the fact that the GB OL is lousy and crippled by injury. If Donald Barclay is still playing RT for the Packers, there is trouble ahead. There is no way Barclay is blocking Aldon or Justin Smith unless he’s allowed to use a 2-by-4. The Packers already can’t run, which means Aaron Rodgers is gonna have to win this on his own, which I can’t see him doing given how little time he figures to have to throw the ball. On the other side, you can run against this Packers D, and while they… no, wait, Joe Webb did a good job stopping the Vikes’ 1-man offence, between Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and three backs who can be dangerous catching out of the backfield, the Niners have enough options to trouble the Packers defensively. Meanwhile, the Bears will tell you how well things will go if you’re reduced to throwing the ball without much of an O-Line. This could be an ugly game for Aaron Rodgers. Besides,if San Fran establishes the running game, and I can’t see how the Pack stops both Gore and Kaepernick, it’s over. Pick: San Fran.