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Kibbles and Picks 2016/17 – Divisional Round

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I think I always knew that this is how it would go down.

I’ll admit it – I made some Wild Card picks that at the time seemed daring and in hindsight seem, well … a little foolish. I scoffed at Stella’s seemingly vanilla strategy as she picked all four home teams to win. It seemed obvious that at least one and possibly two teams could pull out a victory on the road. So I took a swing at the fruit that appeared to be hanging lowest, picking both the Raiders and the Giants to win.

Oops.

The Raiders were unable to come up with enough to beat the Texans, while the Giants simply had no answer for the wondrous work of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. And so, after the first round of the playoffs, I sit with a humble 2-2 record while Stella went four-for-four and ran the table.

So much for avenging my regular season loss.

I go into the Divisional Round already down two games. Stella and I are once again in disagreement on half of the weekend’s slate. If I’m right, I can tie it up, but if Stella’s right on one or (Heaven forbid) both of them, my chances of salvaging my pride essentially evaporate.

We’ll start with the two games on which Stella and I see eye to eye.

First up, we have Houston/New England. It’s fair to say that anyone who picks Houston to win this game is either deluded or a Texans fan (probably both, to be honest). Yes, Houston looked good against the Raiders, but that was a team with a third-string quarterback and a mess of injuries. Going into Gillette and taking on the Patriots is a whole different animal. The Texans D might manage to keep it close – certainly within the outlandish 16-point spread – but there’s almost zero chance this is anything other than a comfortable win for Tom Brady and company.

We both like Dallas to win at home against the Packers, though neither one of us is supremely confident about it. While the Cowboys have looked capable of taking down all comers this season behind the rookie duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Green Bay has never been a team with whom to trifle. There are moments where Aaron Rodgers can simply do whatever he wants on a football field; if the Packers keep the game close, there’s a significant possibility that Rodgers can will his team to the upset. Still, Stella and I both think that ultimately, Dallas will prove too much for this Green Bay squad.

As for the head-to-head, well … here’s hoping.

In the first game of the weekend, I’ve got the Falcons beating Seattle. The Atlanta offense has been a powerhouse all year long, led by the breakout performance of QB Matt Ryan. The Falcons will score plenty of points against a banged-up Seattle defense – the Seahawks secondary looks particularly vulnerable to the diverse Atlanta attack. Stella thinks that Seattle will be able to somewhat stifle Ryan and the rest of the Falcons offense; it won’t be a total shutdown, but it’ll be enough of a slowdown to allow Russell Wilson – with a lot of help from Thomas Rawls – to move the ball and keep up with the Atlanta pace. If it’s a shootout, I’m right; if it’s a low-scoring affair, Stella is. We shall see.

And in our other disagreement, I pick my only road winner of the weekend. I like Pittsburgh to go into Kansas City and become the first road team to win in these playoffs. Last week, we got a glimpse of what the Steelers can do when Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are all performing well. While I like the KC D, I just don’t think they’ve got the horses to stay with Pittsburgh. Stella, on the other hand, thinks that the Chiefs are more than just smoke and mirrors. While they might not have the equivalent of the Steelers’ skill players, she believes that slow and steady will win this particular race – particularly when the race is taking place at Arrowhead. 

And that’s the Divisional Round. We’ll see who comes out on top this time around.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Saturday, Jan. 14

Seattle at ATLANTA

Houston at NEW ENGLAND

Sunday, Jan. 15

PITTSBURGH at Kansas City

Green Bay at DALLAS

Wild Card Round record: 2-2

Postseason record: 2-2

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STELLA’S PICKS

Saturday, Jan. 14

SEATTLE at Atlanta

Houston at NEW ENGLAND

Sunday, Jan. 15

Pittsburgh at KANSAS CITY

Green Bay at DALLAS

Wild Card Round record: 4-0

Postseason record: 4-0

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