Who Stands Between Your NFL Pick & the Super Bowl Title?

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 6:51 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015 6:51 PM GMT

The NFL playoffs aren't like a non-conference schedule for an NCAA football powerhouse. Those schools can pick who they play, but not NFL clubs. Still, there are certain teams that even the Super Bowl favorites on NFL odds would like to avoid. 

Seahawks Prefer to Miss: Cowboys
I'm sure that Seattle, which is the +205 overall Super Bowl favorite at 5Dimes, doesn't fear anyone right now. The Seahawks closed the season winning six straight games by double digits. Just one of those six opponents reached 14 points (Eagles in Week 14). What was the main reason the Seahawks crushed all those foes? Their run defense. Seattle started slowly defending the run early in the year but finished up allowing just 81.5 yards per game, third in the NFL. You know the Seattle pass defense is going to be good regardless with the best secondary in the NFL, led by Pro Bowlers Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. To beat Seattle, you have to ram it down the Seahawks' throats. No team did that better in 2014 than Dallas. In a Week 6 30-23 upset in Seattle, the Cowboys' offensive line played perhaps its best game of the year. The Cowboys rushed for 162 yards, with NFL rushing king  DeMarco Murray carrying 28 times for 115 yards and a touchdown. Dallas finished No. 2 in rushing offense and Murray had a pretty solid game last week against the league's top run defense; he rushed 19 times for 75 yards and a touchdown vs. Detroit. Keep that Seattle defense on the field and it can be worn down. Also, Dallas was 8-0 on the road this season. However, it still would be surprising to see the Cowboys win at Green Bay on Sunday as they are 7-point underdogs on NFL odds. Seattle is -11 at home vs. Carolina, a team that has been running the ball well of late.

 

Packers Prefer to Miss: Seahawks
Clearly Green Bay prefers to stay at Lambeau Field as long as possible. It and Denver were the only clubs to go 8-0 on the home schedule this season. So the Packers will be squarely in Carolina's corner on Saturday in Seattle. The Seahawks are also one of the most physical defensive teams in the NFL and those types of teams have given the Packers trouble. Just look at Week 1 when Green Bay was destroyed in Seattle 36-16. The Lions are a very physical club as well and they shut down the visiting Packers 19-7 in Week 3. Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the season against another physical defense: at Buffalo in a Week 15 21-13 loss. Rodgers was an ugly 17 of 42 for just 185 yards and two interceptions. Rodgers was picked off in just two other games all season.  The Pack were 4.5-point dogs on NFL odds for the Week 1 game in Seattle. That's likely to be a few points higher if there's rematch next Sunday -- and that's assuming Rodgers makes it through the Dallas game without injuring his calf further.

 

Patriots Prefer to Miss: Ravens
Yes, the team New England would least like to face, whether the Patriots players admit it or not, is Baltimore this Saturday. New England is a 7.5-point favorite at sportsbooks. The Ravens are a veteran team that has won plenty of big games on the road. Of course last week they pulled a minor upset in winning at Pittsburgh. In 2012 on the way to the Super Bowl, Baltimore won in Foxboro decisively (after winning in Denver), 28-13, in the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens outscored New England 21-0 in the second half and picked Tom Brady off twice.  In the AFC title game following the 2011 season, the Ravens lost just 23-20 at the Patriots. They should have won. Receiver Lee Evans had the potential game-winning touchdown pass slip out of his hands in the final minute. Then former kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard chip shot field goal to tie it in the final seconds. Brady was picked off twice in that game as well. Finally, in  a 2009 wild-card game the Ravens won 33-14 in Foxboro, and there were three picks for Brady in that one. In addition, the 2014 Ravens were second in the NFL in sacks and getting pressure on Brady is the easiest way to beat New England. 

 

Broncos Prefer to Miss: Patriots
I'm sure the entire country would love to see yet another Peyton Manning-Tom Brady showdown. It could be the final time they play in the postseason; the Broncos will host the Patriots in the 2015 regular season. However, Manning simply doesn't like playing in Foxboro. He has a 2-9 career record there with 20 interceptions. His career quarterback rating is 97.5, but in those 11 games at New England it's 78.8. Denver played one of its worst games of the season in Week 9 at New England, falling 43-21. Manning threw for 438 yards and two scores but most of that was garbage time, and he was picked off twice. Brady threw for 333 yards and four TDs. The 43 points were the most allowed by an improved Denver defense this season. The Broncos are -7 on NFL odds for Sunday's final game against visiting Indianapolis.

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