NFL Conference Championship Spread Picks
In what was one of the most dramatic finishes in NFL playoff history, we pushed our Lock of the Week (New Orleans (+5)), putting our Divisional Round record at 1-0-1. We’re 48-36-5 (57.1 percent) on our article’s picks the season, going 33-20-2 (62.2 percent) against the spread and 15-16-2 (48.4 percent) on over/unders.
On all picks (available to PFF Elite Subscribers) we’re 97-87-8 (52.7 percent) against the spread and 127-97-3 (56.7 percent) on over/unders. We were 1-1-1 and 1-2 on those picks, respectively, during the Divisional Round.
With options limited at this stage of the season we are down to just our lock of the week and it comes to you with a point/counterpoint analysis. For an extended look at both games along with other great #content subscribe to the PFF Forecast.
The Lock of the Week is 13-5-1 so far (72.2 percent), and our Thursday night graphics finished 11-2 (84.6 percent) on the season. For the remainder of our spread and over/under picks, check out PFF Elite and the PFF Elite Facebook Group.
Pick: Patriots 28-18 (Patriots cover)
Point (Eric Eager): While the Jaguars went into Pittsburgh (twice) and stole the Steelers’ thunder, it’s going to be difficult for myself and George to pick against a team that has exceeded expectations for us all season. Whether that be against Atlanta (-3.5), Oakland (-7) in Mexico City or versus the Dolphins (-16) in Foxboro, the Patriots have answered the bell against the number all season. The highest-graded quarterback by more than six 0-100 grade points has the most efficient tight end by 0.35 yards per route run, against a defense that allowed over 100 yards to Vance McDonald a week ago. If the Jaguars put some of their elite resources towards Rob Gronkowski, look for one of the league’s best deep receivers (Brandin Cooks) or one of its best rushers (Dion Lewis) to excel in their complimentary roles, along with a defense that has surrendered over 17 points just twice since Week 4, to help the Patriots win comfortably in this one.
Counterpoint (George Chahrouri): I continue to get the short end of the stick coming up with doomsday scenarios for a Patriots scare in Foxboro. When in doubt, I look to find a trend with a small sample size and a provocative similarity to the situation at hand. Let me remind you that Thomas the Tank also struggled mightily after being hit by a fellow talking train on his way to climbing steepest hill of his storied career. Even if it turns out that Tom managed to avoid having his right hand amputated after a pliability exercise gone awry, he will have to deal with a defense that allowed a league low 6.6 yards per attempt to quarterbacks throwing from a clean pocket. While Brady was the highest-graded QB from a clean pocket this year (look at your QB Annual you morons), that might not be enough to overcome how hard it is for Thomas’ to impose reform on England (New or Old) as Cromwell found out a few years back – sorry TB12.
In addition to the strong coverage of A.J. Bouye (89.1 — eighth) and Jalen Ramsey (92.6 – second), the Jags’ defense has been able to pressure the opposing quarterback at the third-highest rate this season and boasts the highest pressure to sack conversion rate all while blitzing at the third-lowest rate in the league. Tom has been exceptional when hit or hurried this season, but his passer rating under pressure dropped from 104.7 to 72.3 when no blitz was involved while his turnover-worthy play percentage doubled. The combination of a strong defensive showing and the continued savvy aggression of Doug Marrone should scare plenty of plebeians into a Jacksonville bet this weekend. Stay strong and remember if Brady is too hurt to go the Pats can turn to the second coming, Jimmy—