Hard to believe there’s only one weekend left with multiple games in the NFL season. After that, it’s just the Super Bowl and its goodbye football till the spring. No reason to despair though as a great Championship Week lies ahead and we’re giving you two picks with our adjusted metrics coming into play once again.

It’s no time to sit back as there’s already been lots of movement on one of the spreads early in the week, so here we go.

The NFC Championship Game

Atlanta Falcons -4.5 vs. Green Bay Packers

This is a matchup of two supreme offenses that have been on incredible runs this season. The Falcons have been seemingly leading the NFL in offensive YPP from the beginning of the season and they haven’t let up much at all as they remain in firm control of that statistical category.

While the Packers have turned things around in the last eight games in which they’ve run the table, including two crucial wins in the post season.

Matt Ryan has had the better year and might end up the NFL’s MVP award but there hasn’t been anyone as hot as Aaron Rodgers right now, who’s coming off a performance for the ages in the Divisional Round. All indications are this will be a shootout meaning it’ll come down to the defenses and which offense is more dominant. It should be fun.

From a betting perspective, the Falcons are 4.5 point favorites getting deserved respect for their more consistent season and a home field advantage that’s been a big plus. The home field advantage also helps their defense a lot and allows Ryan to make proper adjustments pre-snap that are fundamental when the stakes are this high.

Defensively, the Packers have closed the gap on the Falcons. In their last 8 games, Green Bay’s 5.8 YPP allowed is not too far off the 5.6 number that Atlanta has conceded. However, the Falcons are large favorites in our suggested spreads because their offense has been that much better – true even when we account for Green Bay’s recent run of form – something that stems from their ability to run the ball as well as pass it.

Statistically, neither of these teams are very good in defending the pass as both rank in the bottom five of the NFL per yards conceded in the air – the Packers are 31st and Atlanta’s 28th. But the Packers lacking run game and their issues in preserving a lead could come back to haunt them against the Falcons dynamic offense in their dome.

We’re taking the Dirty Birds to cover and go to the Super Bowl as our YPP spread has them as big favorites with our suggested spread at -10 for Atlanta. Even when we adjust for the eight-game winning stretch the Falcons remain 7.5 point favorites. That’s enough for us.

Pick to Win: Atlanta Falcons Pick ATS: Atlanta Falcons -4.5

 

Teams Current Spread YPP # Advantage Home Field YPP Suggested Spread Difference EW Suggested Spread Difference
GB -0.2 -1
@ATL -4.5 1.1 5.5 3.5 -10 5.5 -6.5 2

YPP suggested spread accounting for Green Bay’s play in their 8 game winning streak

Teams Current Spread YPP # Advantage Home Field YPP Suggested Spread Difference
GB 0.3 1.5
@ATL -4.5 1.1 5.5 3.5 -7.5 3

The AFC Championship Game

Pittsburgh Steelers +6 at New England Patriots

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the hottest team in the league and with a win against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead they’ve proven to be a tough out for anyone. In their nine game winning streak the Steelers have been a top five offensive unit per YPP and have been holding teams to 4.7 YPP, a number that only the Denver Broncos averaged during the regular season.

Even with Ben Roethlisberger not playing at 100-percent this team is flying on all cylinders in large part thanks to  Le’Veon Bell’s running. On their end, the Patriots have only lost one game in their last nine – to the Seattle Seahawks exactly nine games ago – since then they’ve rattled off eight wins in a row including their ‘W’ in the Divisional Round.

The Patriots have also upped their defensive play going from their 5.2 average YPP allowed during the full course of the regular season to only conceding 4.9 in their own streak, just above the Steelers output. However, New England’s offensive output has dropped a bit since the beginning of the year as they’re averaging “only” 5.7 YPP compared to their seasonal average of 5.9.

By conventional measures these teams stack up pretty evenly with the Steelers having the slight edge due to recent play. Which makes this 6 point spread a bit surprising, even more so when the line first came out with the Pats being favored by a full 8 points.

When we adjust our suggested spread based on the output of the teams in the last nine games in which they’ve gone a combined 17-1 the Steeler are only 1 point underdogs. Add the fact that New England has had a fairly easy schedule in that nine game stretch and a lack luster performance from the Patriots in the previous round and we think the spread is just too large.

We will take the Pats to squeak home a win thanks to their home field but 6 points!? no thank you. Give us the Steelers against the spread.

Pick to Win: New England Patriots Pick ATS: Pittsburgh Steelers +6

Teams Current Spread YPP # Advantage Home Field YPP Suggested Spread Difference EW Suggested Spread Difference
PIT 0.3 1.5 1
@NE -6 0.6 3 3.5 -5 -8.5 2.5

YPP suggested spread accounting for both teams performances in last 9 games

Teams Current Spread YPP # Advantage Home Field YPP Suggested Spread Difference
PIT 1.3 6.5 6
@NE -6 0.8 4 3.5 -1

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Born in Boulder and raised in Milan, Italy like Danilo Gallinari. Also like Gallo, I moved to the States at 18; unlike Gallo, I wasn’t drafted by the Knicks but came to attend Western State Colorado University (go Mountaineers!). I graduated in 2009 with a major in Communications and Media and two minors in Journalism and Philosophy. After working in the linguistic field for a few years and listening to sports radio ALL DAY at work, I decided to do it myself and it changed my life around. (Now, I can say I couldn’t be happier and am proudly married to the love of my life Kate.) I moved back to Gunnison and started volunteering for the NPR affiliate up in Crested Butte, while also starting to contribute on an NFL podcast for playitusa.com. A 10 minute bit on one podcast turned into being a regular, year-round on three different podcasts on the NFL, College Football, and the NFL Draft. I’ve since started writing on trueblueblog.net and playitusa.com as well as writing in depth Draft analysis for footballnation.it in the past 3 years. I love the Draft and knowing the stars of the future before everyone else. My sports mount Rushmore is Terrell Davis, Patrick Roy, Italian soccer star Roberto Baggio, and John Elway, deal with it! Hit me up at @andresimone to talk NFL, NCAA football, NFL Draft, CSU football, Nuggets or anything else Colorado or Italy sports related.