Prisco's Picks: Week 19

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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.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017
The two teams met in Seattle in the regular season and the Seahawks won 26-24, but the Falcons rallied in the second half behind the play of their passing game. I think thatís the big issue here for Seattle. Can they cover well enough without Earl Thomas in the deep middle? I donít think they can. The Falcons scored 540 points this season to lead the league as Matt Ryan appears on his way to the MVP. The Seahawks looked good beating Detroit in the Wild-card round, but this is a big step up in opponent. Russell Wilson might be forced to win a shootout here with Ryan. I just donít think that happens. The Falcons get to the title game.
Result: Atlanta Falcons 36, Seattle Seahawks 20
The Patriots have dominated the Texans over the years, beating them 27-0 in Week Three this season with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Tom Brady is back now, which isnít a good thing for the Texansí top-ranked defense. Houston looked good on defense last week, but that was Connor Cook for the Raiders. This will be Brady and his quick passing game. Can the Texans get to him? If they can, the Patriots might have issues. I just donít think the Texans will be able to put up too many points here with Brock Osweiler against the leagueís top-scoring defense. The Houston defense will keep it close for a while, but in the end Brady will get it going and pull it out in the second half.
Result: New England Patriots 34, Houston Texans 16
New England
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017
Green Bay
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be making his first playoff start. Heís handled everything so far, but this is another challenge. The way the Packers are playing on offense, it might be on him to win this one. Aaron Rodgers has been unstoppable the past eight weeks, and he is coming off a four-touchdown pass game against a good Giants defense. The Cowboys arenít as good as that defense. I would expect Rodgers to get his again here, which will put pressure on the Dallas offense to keep up. They want to run it, so if they can do that and keep the ball away from Rodgers that would be the ideal. Green Bay is decent against the run on defense, though. Look for Rodgers to continue his roll. Packers take it in an upset.
Result: Green Bay Packers 34, Dallas Cowboys 31
This shapes up as a game that will be decided by the Chiefs defense and their ability to slow down Ben Roethlisberger, LeíVeon Bell and Antonio Brown. They were all impressive in the Steelersí blowout of the Dolphins last Sunday. Kansas City doesnít have great defensive numbers Ė finishing ranked 24th in total defense and 26th against the run. That could be good news for Bell. But the Chiefs led the NFL in takeaways with 33 and they have a good pass-rush led by Justin Houston. On the other side, the Steelers defense has really improved in the past eight games, which will make it tough for Alex Smith and company. This should be a close game, which means Tyreke Hill and his return ability could be the difference. I think in the end, the Steelers offense will be too much for the Chiefs if Roethlisbergerís ankle isnít an issue. He plays, and it wonít be. Pittsburgh moves on.
Result: Pittsburgh Steelers 18, Kansas City Chiefs 16
Kansas City