Divisional Round Preview: Seattle vs Atlanta, Houston vs New England

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Divisional Round Preview: Seattle vs Atlanta, Houston vs New England

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After a Wild Card round that produced four one-sided contests, the Divisional Round should be more competitive. The action gets underway on Saturday at 4:35 PM ET with QB Matt Ryan and the second seed Atlanta Falcons seeking a little revenge from the third seed Seattle Seahawks. 

 

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
Saturday, 4:35 PM ET
Favourite: Falcons –5
Total: 52

This is a rematch from Week 6, when the Seahawks beat Atlanta 26-24. That win pushed the Seahawks to 4-1, and they went just 6-4-1 the rest of the way. The loss dropped Atlanta to 4-2, and they went 7-3 in their final 10 contests.

Last week, while the Falcons were on a bye, the Seahawks flexed their muscles in a 26-6 rout of the Detroit Lions. They got a big performance from RB Thomas Rawls, who ran for 161 yards and a touchdown. This allowed Seattle to hold onto the ball for 36:39 and keep QB Matthew Stafford off the field.

Head coach Dan Quinn was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2013-15 before transferring to Atlanta, so he’ll be facing his former boss in this contest. Quinn has helped develop a powerful offense for Atlanta, but their defense is lacking. The Falcons’ defense ranked 25th in yards allowed, 28th against the pass, 17th against the run and 27th in points allowed in the regular season. We’ll see if Quinn can coach up a defense that lagged at times this season.

 

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
Saturday, 8:15 PM ET
Favourite: Patriots –16
Total: 44.5

The Texans advanced to the Divisional Round after beating the Oakland Raiders 27-14 last Saturday. Part of their success can be attributed to Raiders rookie quarterback Connor Cook making his first NFL start. Going from facing a handcuffed offense to QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots – on the road, no less – is a significant jump in difficulty.

Tom Brady has New England’s offense humming; they’re fourth in yards gained and passing yards, seventh on the ground and third in points scored. Their defense has also played very well – even with the midseason trade of LB Jamie Collins to Cleveland. The Patriots are 12th against the pass, third against the run and first in points allowed.

Houston’s concerns have to stem from their performance in New England in Week 3, when they were shutout 27-0. Worse yet, the Patriots didn’t have Brady in the lineup (due to the Deflategate suspension). The Patriots have won the last two meetings (over the last two seasons) against Houston by a combined score of 54-6. The Texans have the league’s No. 1 overall defense and allowed the fewest first downs, but it’ll still be an uphill battle for them. They’re the biggest underdogs in a playoff game since 1998.

 

*Odds as of January 12, 2017