Published On: Fri, Jan 12th, 2018

Divisional Round Betting Preview: Picks for the 2nd week of playoff action

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Each week during the NFL season, theScore’s Dane Belbeck will handicap every matchup and offer up a three-pack of selected picks.

Last week’s record: 3-1
Season record: 141-110-9

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

The Atlanta Falcons showed they are a team to take seriously despite being the No. 6 seed in the NFC with a dominant road win against the Los Angeles Rams last weekend. That win – combined with the Philadelphia Eagles entering play with Nick Foles at quarterback – has the Falcons as road favorites this weekend.

The matchup to watch in this one is the Eagles’ third-ranked rushing attack against the Falcons’ ninth-ranked run defense. If Atlanta can limit the combination of Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement, it has to like its chances against Foles and the passing attack. Expect the veteran Falcons to do just that, and ride Julio Jones on offense to advance to the NFC championship. Falcons 27, Eagles 20

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5)

The Tennessee Titans‘ incredible win at the Kansas City Chiefs was the most entertaining game of the opening weekend. Nobody should expect a repeat when the Titans travel to face the New England Patriots on Saturday night. While Tennessee may be able to move the ball on New England, it’s tough to see the league’s 25th-ranked passing defense slow down Tom Brady.

The Patriots’ pass defense is ranked among the worst in the league, but Tennessee’s offense is absent the receiving weapons needed to exploit that weakness. Look for them to bottle up Derrick Henry and force Marcus Mariota to beat them through the air. The talented youngster won’t be able to keep up as the Patriots win handily. Patriots 34, Titans 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

While there’s very little to be excited about regarding the Jacksonville offense after last week’s performance, that unit saw some success in an earlier-season win at Pittsburgh. Leonard Fournette ran wild for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the Jaguars’ win. The Steelers will likely pack the box to force Blake Bortles to beat them through the air, but the Jaguars’ running game is likely too strong to totally shut down.

In what was arguably the worst game of Ben Roethlisberger‘s career, the Jaguars intercepted the standout quarterback an incredible five times in the 30-9 win this season. One would have to think Roethlisberger will play much better the second time around, but the Jaguars’ defense is an absolute force. Jacksonville lost by more than seven points just three times this season, and that won’t change on Sunday. Pittsburgh gets the win but the Jaguars cover the number. Steelers 24, Jaguars 20

New Orleans Saints (+4.5) at Minnesota Vikings

A Case Keenum-led team is favored over a Drew Brees-led outfit in a playoff game. The fact that’s actually a true statement tells you how odd the NFL has been this season. The Vikings are one of the most well-rounded teams in the league and will certainly be rested after a bye week. These two teams met in Minnesota in Week 1, with Sam Bradford throwing for 346 yards and three scores in a 29-19 win. It will be the veteran backup Keenum leading the Vikings against the improved passing defense of the Saints in this one.

If the Saints are going to emerge victorious, the prolific running-back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are going to have to be better than the Week 1 loss. The Vikings held them to just 35 yards combined on 13 carries in that one. The pair struggled mightily last week against the Panthers, combining for just 45 yards, but Brees bailed out the offense with a 376-yard passing day. Trust the veteran quarterback to see his team through in this one as well. Saints 27, Vikings 24

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