Note: I normally don’t do picks this early, but Chris Clemons is expected to be out with a torn ACL. Once news of that is confirmed, this line will go up from -2.5. I like the Falcons either way, but I like them a lot more at -2.5 than -4.5, so I’m going to get this one locked in before the line moves. And if Clemons doesn’t have a torn ACL, well I was going to make this pick anyway so it’s not a loss.
Allow me to save you some time and give you all the analysis you’ll hear on ESPN or any other major sports network shows: “Matt Ryan has never won a playoff game so he can’t possibly win this game BLAH BLAH BLAH.” That’s one of the stupidest arguments because it presumes you can tell from 3 games that a generally solid quarterback somehow becomes worse in the postseason than the regular season.
Peyton Manning, though obviously a better quarterback, was in a similar situation early in his career, losing his first 3 postseason games, before winning 2 in 2003 and taking his team to the AFC Championship. Eli Manning lost his first two before leading the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2007, winning 4 in the process. Two of Ryan’s three losses came against eventual Super Bowl champs and one came on the road as a rookie. And yet people still seem to think that he can’t possibly win this game because of what happened in those first 3 games.
Everyone in the media will probably be on the Seahawks this week and an early ESPN poll shows that the public is 2/3rds on the Seahawks. I don’t have public betting action yet, but I bet the public will be all over Seattle getting points. I love fading the public because they always lose money in the long run and this week is certainly no exception. I especially love fading them when they’re on a dog because that creates a slighted favorite and gives them even more motivation. The Bengals and Colts were popular upset picks this week. How’d that work out?
I’ve been down on the Falcons all season. I’ve frequently said that they’re not as good as their record because of a lot of close calls with inferior teams. I still think they will lose at home to either Green Bay or San Francisco. Those teams are different monsters. But, it’s almost like the Falcons have become underrated for being overrated, that people have called the Falcons “overrated” so many times that everyone has forgotten that they’re a good football team with a great home field advantage.
Matt Ryan is 32-6 at home in his career, while the Seahawks have lost in Miami, Arizona, St. Louis, and Detroit this year, had a close call in Carolina, went to overtime with Chicago, and trailed 14-0 in Washington just last week before Robert Griffin got hurt. And that’s what people are overlooking this week (as well as the impact of Chris Clemons’ loss, contrary to popular belief rookie Bruce Irvin can’t fill his shoes as an every down end).
While the Seahawks are 12-24 ATS as non-divisional road dogs since 2005, the Falcons are 14-6 ATS as non-divisional home favorites since 2008, only losing twice (once was against the Packers in the playoffs in 2010, but no one was stopping them that year). On top of that, the Seahawks have to play this game on the East Coast at 1 PM as a West Coast team, a huge disadvantage. I expect them to get another home win against a road challenged team and for Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons to use the criticism positively and get his first postseason win.
Atlanta Falcons 27 Seattle Seahawks 17
Pick against spread: Atlanta -2.5 (-110) 4 units