Getty Images

Packers underdogs, Patriots big favorites among NFL Divisional Round odds

Leave a comment

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers thrive as a road underdog in the postseason, but the Dallas Cowboys figure to be healthier and more rested for their showdown on Sunday.

The Cowboys are listed as 4.5-point favorites on the NFL point spreads against the Packers with a 52-point total in their NFC Divisional Round matchup slated for AT&T Stadium on Sunday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Dallas is 1-3 straight-up and 0-4 against the spread in its last four divisional round games, but are also riding a seven-win streak at home where they are 5-2 against the spread.

With Rodgers against Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott, the Packers have an edge in experience, and Rodgers’ savvy is reflected in a 6-1 ATS record in their last seven playoff games as an underdog. The Packers, offensively, are almost completely reliant on the passing attack and may have to adapt without WR Jordy Nelson (collapsed lung, ribs).

With the combo of Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys might be able to dictate the pace to a Packers defense that is lacking in pass coverage.

The Atlanta Falcons are listed as 4.5-point favorites against the Seattle Seahawks with a 51.5-point total in the NFC tilt on Saturday. While the Falcons are 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS in their last six playoff games, the dual threat of WR Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel means Seahawks CB Richard Sherman will only be able to nullify one receiving threat.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will not be facing a statistically-imposing Falcons pass rush, but during their wild card game the Seahawks’ much-maligned offensive line had issues with the Detroit Lions’ garden-variety front four.

The New England Patriots are 16-point favorites against the Houston Texans with a 44.5-point total in the AFC matchup on Saturday. The Patriots, who are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite of at least 14 points, won 27-0 in the teams’ regular-season game when third-string QB Jacoby Brissett was playing instead of Tom Brady.

New England also enters the week as the favorites on the odds to win Super Bowl 51, and has a 34.5 percent chance to win the championship according to PredictionMachine.com.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a slim two-point favorite against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 44.5-point total in Sunday’s AFC betting matchup. The Steelers, with RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown together in the playoffs for the first time, will be trying to break a cycle of being 0-5 SU and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games on the road after consecutive home games.

Kansas City, 11-2 SU in their last 13 home games, is a changed team since their 29-point road defeat in Pittsburgh in Week 5, with WR Tyreek Hill becoming a touchdown threat to complement QB Alex Smith and TE Travis Kelce.

In the last four years the favored team has only lost SU twice in the Divisional Round (14-2 SU). In the last three years the visiting team is 7-3-2 ATS in the Divisional Round.

Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip

10 Comments

HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback

2 Comments

HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL