Hopefully you all had a great New Year's holiday. I know I did, by hosting a party and inviting the elite of the elites. As for the NFL, I'm just happy there are no more Lame/Shame of the Weeks to waste time over.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans (+3.5)
Two incredibly hot teams collide in Houston: Chiefs have won 10 in a row while the Texans have won 7 of their last 9, and have given up only 10 points per game during that period. They finished the season third in total defense, thanks to the incomparable DE J. J. Watt and DC Crennel. Basically this game will be a low scoring affair, so take the under no matter what. However, the Chiefs will exploit their decided advantage at QB and the Texans' lack of RB Foster. The Chiefs are the second most efficient team according to Football Outsiders' metric. For what it's worth, the Texans haven't had much success against top 10 defenses this season. Moreover, they've lost their left tackle Brown, and they're facing Justin Houston without their best pass blocker.
Kansas City by 3
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (+3)
The Steelers have had their way with the Bengals lately - beating them 4 out of their last 5 matchups. Worse yet, the Steelers have a vastly superior QB in Rothlisberger over playoff virgin AJ McCarron. While the Bengals have a decided advantage at almost every other position, the quarterback position might be the most important position, especially in the playoffs. The Steelers do have the most powerful passing attack in the league, besides the Cardinals, thanks to excellent pocket awareness and lethal speed and quickness at all four WR spots. If the Bengals force the Steelers into a one-dimensional offense, they can dictate the tempo and win the physical aspect of the game. Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams isn't likely to play after injuring his ankle last Sunday in Cleveland. After all, the Bengals aren't the only ones with a poor track record in the playoffs: the Steelers haven't won in the money season since 2011. But the advantages at key positions will be too much.
Pittsburgh by 4
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings (+5.5)
It'll be the Ice Bowl revisited, if the weather prognostication is correct. Yes, the Seahawks beat the Vikings 38-7 a few weeks ago. It's too hard to believe that the Vikings will have solved the Seahawks by now, even if they've picked up their play in the past month. QB Wilson has been on the hottest streak of his career over the last 7 games - hotter than any other QB over the past 30 years except Steve Young in 1994. Moreover, the Seahawks defense remains as stout as ever, finishing first in scoring defense for the fourth year in a row. However, the Rams have perfected the formula for beating the 'Hawks by taking the tempo away from them. They do have an excellent pass rush capable of exploiting the Seahawks' leaky offensive line, and the NFL rushing king in Peterson. But will that be enough against a veteran Super Bowl-caliber team?
Seattle by 7
Green Bay Packers @ Washington Ethnic Slur (-1.5)
The Packers have fallen ass-backwards into the playoffs, no thanks to a crappy offensive line and a shitty WR corps that can't get open. It is a miracle that QB Rodgers didn't end up in the ER unit after getting sacked 14 times in the last two weeks. His completion percentage and yards per attempt and passer rating are the worst of his career. The Ethnic Slurs actually do possess a solid pass rush, spearheaded by LB Kerrigan and DE Baker, which should exploit the Packers' godawful OL. Better yet, the Slurs' offense is clicking on all cylinders. They've won 5 of their last 6 games, thanks to a second-half awakening by QB Cousins. While the Slurs are new to the playoffs, their homefield advantage at FedEx Field will carry them through to the next round.
Washington by 6