Pick 2: Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore and Arizona vs. Carolina

Pick 2: Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore and Arizona vs. Carolina

The Teaser: Pair Pittsburgh and Arizona

Game 1: Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore

The Initial Line:

Pittsburgh -3 home vs. Baltimore

The Take:

Add 8 points to Pittsburgh’s line

The Final Line:

Pittsburgh +5

The Breakdown:

Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North title and the #3 seed in week 17, getting a home victory over Cincinnati 27-17. Ben Roethlisberger had an excellent game, going 24-38 for 317 yds, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Antonio Brown was stellar, catching 7 passes for 128 yds and a TD. The defense also made some big plays with 3 turnovers. Baltimore snuck their way into the 6th playoff spot after San Diego lost, as they defeated Cleveland on the road 20-10. Joe Flacco had a big game, throwing for 312 yds and 2 TDs. Justin Forsett added 119 yds on the ground, and the defense forced 2 turnovers against 3rd string QB Connor Shaw.

Pittsburgh and Baltimore are 2 of the biggest rivals in the NFL, and have each gotten a home victory this season against each other. Ben Roethlisberger had a huge offensive season, finishing the regular season ranked 1st in pass yds (4,952) and 3rd in QB rating (103.3). He should be able to find success against a Baltimore D that ranked 23rd in pass yds allowed. Joe Flacco will have to try and limit his mistakes on the road, as he had a 14-3 TD-INT ratio at home compared to 13-9 on the road. On the other hand, Roethlisberger is very happy to have a home playoff game, as he had a 23-4 TD-INT ratio and a 114.8 QB rating at home this season. This should be a hard-fought game, but if Pittsburgh executes they will be the victors this weekend.

Game 2: Arizona vs. Carolina

The Initial Line:

Arizona +6.5 away vs. Carolina

The Take:

Add 8 points to Arizona’s line

The Final Line:

Arizona +14.5

The Breakdown:

Arizona lost its shot at a NFC West title, falling on the road to San Francisco 20-17. Ryan Lindley was able to finally throw a TD pass, and he finished with 316 pass yds, 2 TDs and 3 INTs. Michael Floyd was the big target for Lindley, catching 8 passes for 153 yds and 2 TDs. The defense only gave up 20 pts, despite giving up almost 400 yds of offense. Carolina punched its ticket to the postseason Sunday, crushing Atlanta 34-3 for the NFC South title. The defense was the driving factor in this one, as they forced 3 turnovers and returned 2 INTs for TD. Cam Newton also turned in a solid performance with 114 pass yds, 51 rush yds, 1 pass TD and 1 rush TD.

Despite their 7-8-1 record, Carolina was able to clinch the #4 seed and earn a home playoff game vs Arizona. Arizona has lost 2 games in a row while Carolina has won their last 4. However Arizona still has the 5th best turnover differential in the league at +8, while Carolina sits at +3. Ryan Lindley showed progress in his 2nd start, as his QBR went from 14.8 in week 16 to 73.6 in week 17. He’ll have to protect the ball though against a Carolina defense who is one of the best at forcing turnovers. Cam Newton lost his only playoff game last year vs San Francisco 23-10, despite being at home. These are 2 strong defenses, so expect this one to be a tight, low scoring game. Taking Arizona at +14.5 ensures a 2 TD cushion still ensures victory.

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