With the first round of NFL betting in the playoffs in the books, we’re eagerly anticipating the next round. We went only 2-2 in our NFL picks, and so redemption will be upon us this week in our next column. That said, we did learn a great deal from this past weekend. So let’s get to my NFL Divisional Playoff Rankings and words of wisdom.
NFL Divisional Playoff Rankings
1. New England Patriots – The Pats won’t face much of a challenge from the Houston Texans. But you have to give the Texans credit. They scored more points than I thought they would. Brock Osweiler played decently. And he did beat New England last year. So you never know…. Nah, we know. The Belichicks are ready to go.
2. Seattle Seahawks – I’m moving up Seattle with a bullet because their running game has returned. The Thomas Rawls that we saw this past weekend was the same RB that looked like a perennial Pro Bowler last season when he burst on the scene. If the o-line continues to get a push, Seattle will be dangerous.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers – LeVeon Bell is the best player remaining in the playoffs right now. It’s not even close. Just think of his totals had he not missed the first four games of the season. The defense for Pittsburgh showed up last week and played well. They’ll need to be sharp again against the tricky Chiefs this weekend.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Any time you have home field advantage, a tremendous offensive line and a solid running game you have a chance. I worry about the decision-making of a rookie QB in his first playoff game. I also worry about the big plays given up by the defense. But you have to respect the Boys.
5. Green Bay Packers – Boy was I wrong. I thought the Giants D would stymie Aaron Rodgers enough for the Packers defense to blow it. But GB’s defenders were tremendous. When the Giants didn’t hit the big plays in the first quarter they became deflated and never recovered. The Pack are rolling. Watch out, Cowboys.
6. Kansas City Chiefs – A good defense. A good range of trick plays and a decent quarterback. The Chiefs should be where they are. But they’re not explosive enough on offense and not shut down enough on defense to win it all.
7. Atlanta Falcons – Been here, disappointed before. I am not a believer in Atlanta getting by Seattle. The Falcons don’t have nearly a good enough defense to stop Rawks or Russell Wilson.
8. Houston Texans – Well, they’re still alive. I don’t give them any chance of winning this weekend in New England. If J.J. Watt was playing I absolutely would have. But you know who is playing? Tom Brady! The Texans are a nice story after a so-so season in a bad division. But who do I know? They still have to play the game, right?
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.