A Saturday night double last week for Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67). He seeks more glory here in the Divisional Play-Offs.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots | Saturday 21:35 | Sky Sports 2
I could not have been more confident in the Chiefs last week and they duly obliged with a 30-0 win on the road in Houston. An 11th consecutive win for what is without doubt the hottest team in football.
New England will be delighted that by breezing through the AFC East yet again, they had a week off. Especially with the number of injuries they have had to absorb this season.
The Chiefs however are probably delighted that they had to play last week. They will not have wanted a break when everything has been clicking so beautifully.
The rout in Houston allowed for a reasonably easy return for sack machine Justin Houston. Tonight’s second outing in six weeks should see him at 100% and that is a big deal for the Patriots offensive line or more to the point Tom Brady.
New England seems to get far less credit that it deserves for the consistent brilliance of the last 10-15 years. Even less so for winning a tough division with ease despite a crushing injury list.
Still without LeGarret Blount and Dion Lewis in the backfield, Julian Edelman will only return tonight after missing half the season and Rob Gronkowski appears only after a week of questions about his ability to suit up here.
Nate Solder is a huge miss on defence but it is the offensive line (the key to any team) where they have suffered most. New England has started more O.L combinations than any team since 1990.
It’s easy to read into what I have written so far that I am leaning toward Kansas. Well, sort of. Jeremy Maclin would be a huge loss and that is worrying as is injury to Spencer Ware.
There is also the old mantra of never bet against the Pats. No, I see this as an incredibly close game. With KC playing at such a level, it just has to be.
With something that close, I have to go with the Chiefs to cover the five point handicap. I think this goes to the wire and would not be surprised to see a winner in the last minute.
Both defences have been excellent for most of the season and I really like chances of this coming down to a kicking contest. New England’s ninth ranked defence and the Chiefs number seven unit are both better than average in the Red Zone. With two of the better kickers in action, I really like over 3.5 Field Goals at what looks a huge 11/8.
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals | Sunday 01:15 | Sky Sports 2
Arizona was my pre season outsider at 28/1 and I remain incredibly confident that they will finally break their duck this year and win it all. It is difficult to look beyond them here. Particularly as just three weeks ago in this stadium they only needed to play for two thirds of the game in an eye catching 38-8 win over these same Packers.
Ok, so maybe we need to take into account the weakened offensive line that Green Bay fielded in that game. They looked a completely different outfit in the demolition of Washington last Sunday.
That had a lot to do with centre JC Tretter who gave Aaron Rodgers some of the best protection he has received all season. Rodgers duly obliged, helped by the performance of Eddie Lacy and James Starks in the backfield.
It is amazing what a quarterback can do when a team protects him AND establishes a rushing game. It has rarely been the case that pre season favourites Green Bay has achieved either of those things, let alone both this season.
Getting any kind of ground game going here will be incredibly difficult. The Cardinals rank sixth against the run and have only allowed two 100 yard rushers all season.
That is the crux of this game really. A lights out 5th ranked Arizona defence against a 25th ranked Green Bay offence. An attack that is once again missing Davante Adams and where you can almost see the whole that Jordy Nelson has left.
The Cardinals and in particular Carson Palmer really do not get the credit they deserve. Palmer is 19-3 over the last two NFL seasons. Arizona is the leading offence in the entire NFL averaging 30.6 points per game. Palmer himself leads the second rated passing attack with a league best 8.7 yards per attempt.
If there is one thing the Cardinals lose out on to Green Bay, it is playoff experience but even in that respect, Arizona fields the rejuvenated Larry Fitzgerald. A man who averages 105 yards per game in post season football.
That my friends is the best ever and Fitz is lucky enough to play for a head coach in Bruce Arians who loves to launch the ball down the field.
I expect both games on Saturday to be high scoring affairs but in this one, I cannot see anything but an easy Cardinals win and another step towards San Francisco in just three weeks time.
Arizona is 12-0 when they score 23 points or more this season. I like them to score more than that here and although it’s a tough number, I believe they will cover the seven point spread.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots – Kansas City Chiefs +5 (10/11 Skybet)
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots – Over 3.5 Field Goals (11/8 BetVictor)
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals – Arizona Cardinals -7 (10/11 Skybet)
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