Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers (-6.5) – Saturday, January 16 at 4:35pm ET on FOX
The Rams won last week, and most of their games this season, behind controlled offensive play and one of the best defenses in the league. This week they’re going up against one of the best and most balanced offenses in the entire NFL, so, needless to say, they are going to have their hands full on each defensive drive. The Rams are one of those teams that seem like they could have a real shot to knock off the Packers because they are going to keep the game close, but their quarterback play is going to be a major issue. John Wolford was knocked out of last week’s game due to injury which forced Jared Goff off the sidelines and into the game just 11 days after surgery on his throwing hand thumb. He played exactly how you would expect. Outside of two 44 yard completions (one badly under thrown and the other a catch and run), he was 7-for-17 for 67 yards through the air. Unless his thumb has magically healed this week, that’s not going to get it done against the explosive Packers. There will be an element of rust for the Packers as they didn’t play last week, but that should wear off in the first quarter. Aaron Rodgers, the presumptive MVP winner, knows he may not have too many more chances to win a Super Bowl, and this team is primed and ready to go for one. I expect the Packers to win this convincingly, even if the scoreboard reflects a close game.
Prediction: Packers 27, Rams 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-3) – Sunday, January 17 at 6:40pm ET on FOX
The Bucs and Saints have played each other twice this season, and the Saints have come out on top twice with an aggregate score of 72-26. That was the regular season. This is now. Yes, the Saints have one of the best defenses in the league and a Hall of Fame quarterback, but so do the Bucs. It’s hard enough to shut down Tom Brady twice in a season…but three times? I think this defense is going to have its hands full on Sunday. As for the offense, I don’t know what Drew Brees has left in the tank any more. This has seemed to be the storyline each of the last few seasons right? Saints dominate the regular season. Saints lose in a heartbreaker in the postseason. I think a lot of that falls on Drew Brees and his inability to move the ball downfield like he used to. Couple that with the Taysom Hill injury, and I don’t think this offense is explosive enough to keep up with the Bucs. I’m not betting against Brady in the playoffs (until next week against the Pack), especially when he’s on a mission to prove he can win one without New England. This should be a great game with the Bucs taking the all-important round 3 of this matchup.
Prediction: Bucs 27, Saints 24
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