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Prisco's Picks: Week 19

 
 
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WEEK
19
PETE PRISCO
Senior NFL Columnist
Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and can be seen throughout the week on CBS Sports' NFL shows. When he's not watching game tape you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
MATCHUP SCORE ANALYSIS
Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016
 
Kansas City
Chiefs
20
The Chiefs have ripped off 11 straight victories and clearly are a hot team. They looked dominant against the Texans. But beating the champs at their place is a different animal. The Patriots will be rested and they needed it. They looked terrible against Miami in the finale and didn't look great for most of December. They should get back some players they need, guys like Julian Edelman, which will help. The key, though, will be how well they block the Kansas City front, but Brady does a great job of getting the ball out. This is a big game for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. He will have to come up big against a good New England defense that will focus on taking away the run. I don't think he does it here. Patriots are moving on.
Result: New England Patriots 27, Kansas City Chiefs 20
New England
Patriots
27
 
 
Green Bay
Packers
21
These two teams met three weeks ago and the Cardinals blew the Packers off the field. They sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times and had two fumble returns for touchdowns. Green Bay looked much better on offense Sunday in beating Washington, and Rodgers seemed to think they got it untracked. But this Arizona defense will again come after him, and the Packers don't have the receivers to scare down the field. That will put a lot of pressure on the quick-passing game for the Packers. Arizona can counter with a big-play offense that can drive the ball down the field. Look for a lot of chunk plays early from Carson Palmer and the gang, and then David Johnson will take over late. Cardinals take it.
Result: Arizona Cardinals 26, Green Bay Packers 20
Arizona
Cardinals
33
 
Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016
 
Seattle
Seahawks
17
The Seahawks have to feel fortunate they are playing in this game after the missed field goal in Minnesota. But you don't give great teams chances like this to keep going without paying. Seattle has an edge in postseason experience. It also helps that Russell Wilson has made huge strides as a passer. They will be a tough team to get out. But Carolina beat them at Seattle earlier this year and did it with a fourth-quarter rally that will give them confidence. I think Cam Newton will come out and show why he's the MVP. He will take a beating from a good Seattle front, but in the end he will outplay Wilson to advance the Panthers.
Result: Carolina Panthers 31, Seattle Seahawks 24
Carolina
Panthers
23
 
 
Pittsburgh
Steelers
23
The big issue here is the health of Ben Roethlisberger with his banged-up shoulder. If he can't go, the Steelers would be in huge trouble. And if he can, how healthy will he be? Can he drive the football? There are also health issues with receiver Antonio Brown, who killed the Broncos in the last meeting, and with running back DeAngelo Williams. Peyton Manning will make his first start since getting hurt in early November. He didn't play well when he did play early in the season, so it will be interesting to see how he does against a Steelers defense that has improved in recent weeks, especially up front. I think Manning will make enough plays and the Denver defense -- no matter who plays quarterback -- will be much improved against the pass since the last time they met. Broncos advance to the title game.
Result: Denver Broncos 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 16
Denver
Broncos
27
 
 
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