Tampa Bay (+8.5) @ Atlanta
The NFC is wide open and Atlanta looks like they have as good a chance as anyone to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They’ve got a steady QB, a top flight running back, an aging but still effective tight end and a very good receiving corps. Defensively, they have some questions, especially in the secondary. They’ve well enough to pull out wins and with the exception of the Eagles game, have looked like the better team. For some reason though, I’m simply not sold. I can’t trust Matty Ice to deliver a game winning drive under pressure and Michael Turner has had some durability issues. Sure, Atlanta will go to the playoffs and may win a game but no way they reach the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, looks bad on paper. Statistically, they rank in the middle for every major category except for opponents rushing yards, which they come in at 30th. Again, on paper, this would appear to play right into the hands of Atlanta. Josh Freeman looks confident and better than most thought at his early point in his career. Mike Williams provides him with a reliable target and Lagarrette (French for “The Garrette") Blount just had a breakout game last week against Arizona. Defensively, this team loaded up with young talent. They’re more than a year away from becoming serious contenders for the division crown but they’ve got a friskiness to them I like.
Atlanta will win this one. They’re the better team, I just don’t think they’re more than 8 points better. Mike Williams and Lagarrette Blount both have solid games and keep the Bucs in this one. I like Tampa Bay to cover but the Falcons to win.
PICK: TAMPA BAY +8.5
Kansas City (+3) @ Oakland
Odds makers must have put a lot of stock into these past two weeks by Oakland. Oakland has looked like a premier team. Darren McFadden, Jason Campbell, and Darrius Heyward-Bey played to their first round draft pick pedigree resulting in some of the best offensive output in franchise history. However, let’s add a little perspective. Yes, the Raiders got very very hot but they also played against two teams that were reeling. The Broncos have looked absolutely terrible over the past few weeks and Seattle overachieves at home and bombs on the road. Oakland may be playing its best football in a decade but that doesn’t say a whole lot.Kansas City has benefited from an easy schedule. You could argue they’ve lost to the only quality teams they’ve played (Indy and Houston). However, the Chiefs play steady and make the most of what they have. Kansas City runs the ball well, makes just enough throws and plays solid defense. I like Chiefs’ Defensive Coordinator, Romeo Crennel, against Jason Campbell. No way Heyward-Bey has a repeat performance. Raider's corner Nnamdi Asomugha is listed as Questionable and may not play. Without him, the Raiders will lose the flexibility he brings. The Chiefs are 3 point dogs but I see them winning outright and cooling the Raiders off.
PICK: KANSAS CITY +3