I know I’m a little late for my Saturday picks, but since I have this game pretty wrong at the time of this post (Ravens up 21-7), I figure I’m ok to put up my predictions that I made before the games. I was 3-1 last week, both with winners and against the spread.
Ravens @ Steelers
I thought that home-field advantage would be enough to decide a tightly contested game like this. Two very physical teams who have comparable and competitive teams, I liked the Steelers with homefield advantage. I think Pittsburgh’s defense is a tougher unit at this point as Baltimore’s defense has faded some in recent years, giving up as many as 34 points to some pretty mediocre teams…
On offense, the Ravens are as good as they’ve been in recent years, as Flacco continues to grow into a position of leadership, rather than being strictly a caretaker QB. However, I felt coming in that Roethlisberger is an excellent playoff QB due to his ability to keep plays alive and orchestrate long drives in crunch time. Flacco may be able to do that at some point, but Roethlisberger is proven.
Prediction: Steelers 24 – Ravens 20
Packers @ Falcons
Another game that should be a pretty competitive matchup between two young talented QBs.
While Western New York’s own James Starks had a breakout game last week, I don’t anticipate him to be able to repeat that type of performance. I do, however, feel that he has established enough of a threat in the running game that Aaron Rodgers will be able to get some matchups on the outside with his wide receivers.
Atlanta is very tough at home, and with Matt Ryan at QB are an astounding 20-2. I’m just not sure that Matt Ryan is up to the challenge of beating Aaron Rodgers in this type of game. I know they’re not playing against each other, but I like Rodgers against the Falcons’ defense much more than I like Ryan against Green Bay’s defense. I think Michael Turner might be able to grind down the Packers a little with his ability to run between the tackles, but I don’t think it will be enough against a physical Green Bay front seven.
They played a very competitive game during the regular season with Matt Ryan able to come out on top to lead the Falcons to a game-winning field goal. I feel that Rodgers will have the upper hand in this game, though I don’t like that the Packers are such a popular pick in the national media.
Prediction: Packers 24 – Falcons 17