A.F.C. THE GREAT EIGHT N.F.C
PATRIOTS -5 (Chiefs)
The Chiefs winning streak means little to me. I like the Chiefs defense, particularly their ability to pressure Tom Brady (the statue). Teams haven't been running well against K.C. either, and I do not see the Pats changing that much. I generally do not like teams coming off of bye-weeks, but in New England's case, they sorely needed the week off. Tom Brady, Gronk, and Julian Edelman, will all be gimpy, but available, and at least won't be turning over the ball like the woeful Texans did. I think Coach Belichick will devise a scheme to make Chiefs QB Alex Smith work harder than Andy Reid would like. Offensively, the Patriots will do just enough to get by. This point spread is a sketchy proposition, though.
WIN; 27-20 Patriots
CARDINALS -7 (Packers)
Defeating the D.C. Hogs was fool's gold. The real Packers are the team that struggled down the stretch, and so there will be no discount double check this week. The Cardinals' secondary is strong, and as a defense know how to keep Rodgers contained in the pocket. That's why they were able to sack him 8 times last time they met 3 weeks ago. Carson Palmer has been waiting a long time for this opportunity. It's time for him to validate his status as a winner - not just as a member of the Cards, but throughout his career. Spending time with the Bengals is a red flag on any one's resume. He's out to shake off 2 playoff losses while with Cincinnati - and will.
Loss; 26-20 Cardinals
PANTHERS -2 (Seahawks)
The Panthers won the regular season showdown between the two. But, that was nearly 3 months ago. The Seahawks have straightened themselves out since then, and more resemble the Seattle team that defeated Carolina in the playoffs 2 seasons ago. Still, the Panthers were the only team in the NFL to amass 500+ points this season, and are undefeated at home with an 8-0 record. Actually, both teams face the same dilemma, which is a quarterback whom can beat you inside the pocket, or fleeing from it. Ultimately, however, one of those two will need to hang in and deliver the game's knockout blow. The home team is only laying 2 points, so there's little confidence to speak of. At least a field goal would come in handy.
WIN; 31-24 Panthers
BRONCOS -7 (Pittsburgh)
With all Pittsburgh's potential offensive injuries (particularly to Big Ben) piling up, I expect Denver's defense to amp-up the intensity. If they render Big Ben ineffective, the Steelers are toast. This spread is begging me to take the Steelers, after all, Peyton Manning's health is in question, and history says he does not do well in cold weather playoff games. So, am I confident about this?
Not really - not about the spread ... that is.
PUSH; 23-16 Broncos