Fearless Rick's NFL Football Picks - Divisional late games

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Divisional NFL Playoff Picks- late games

All times Eastern

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Sunday, January 15

1:05 pm Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-1 1/2, 45 1/2) - It gets really interesting in the AFC this week, and this game should provide plenty of drama and highlights.

Kansas City had a bye in wild card weekend and thus, plenty of time to ruminate over the week 4 beating they took in Pittsburgh, when the Steelers crushed them, 43-14. Now the tables are turned to the Chiefs having home field, where they were 6-2 on the season, the only defeats a pair of two-point losses to Tampa Bay and Tennessee by identical 19-17 scores.

Kansas City has one of the better defenses in the league, allowing 19.4 points per game, but they checked in at a sub-par 24th in yards allowed, the opposition averaging 368.5 yards per game on them. By contrast, Pittsburgh allowed 20.4 ppg and 342.6 yards on average through the end of the regular season.

The Steelers got tuned up with a relatively easy, 30-12 victory over the Dolphins, but the story was how many passes backup QB Matt Moore completely against Pittsburgh's porous zone defense, 29 to be exact, on 36 throws. Moore was sacked five times, fumbled twice and tossed an interception, but Ben Roethlisberger threw two. The Steelers rode their horse, LeVeon Bell, for 167 yards on 29 carries, an impressive showing.

Expect Roethlisberger to be a little more careful with the football and as dangerous as ever. The Chiefs will rely on the arm of QB Alex Smith, a steady, if unspectacular performer. With plenty of playoff experience on which to stand, look for the Steelers to emerge victorious in a close game that could be decided late.

Coin Flip: Kansas City

Rick's Pick: Steelers 27 Chiefs 24

4:40 pm Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-4, 51 1/2) - Dallas swept through the league like a twister, damaging every team in its path en route to an impressive 13-3 record, the best in the NFC. Having to host the red-hot Packers may not have been on their Christmas gift list, but the Pack managed to overwhelm the Giants - the only team that beat the Cowboys twice - 38-13, in a wide-open second half in which Green Bay put up 24 points.

These two met back in October, with the Cowboys coming out on top, 30-16, at Green Bay. The venue will be different, and the Packers have emerged as a recognizable threat after winning six straight to close out the regular season and having boosted their likability wth the monster win over the Giants.

Neither team is possessed of a shut down defense, but the Packers may have the advantage of having played the prior week. Dallas may have to scrape off some rust after their bye, and if the Packers get off the mark early, the Cowboys could find themselves facing and uphill climb. Even if the Cowboys hang with Green Bay or have a lead, QB Aaron Rodgers appears to be at the top of his game and the entire Green Bay squad has loads of playoff experience, whereas the Cowboys have little and their two best players, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott are rookies.

Take the points because if Green Bay has an opportunity to tie or take the lead late, or is holding the lead in the latter stages of the fourth quarter, Rodgers gives them a huge edge in either situation.

Coin Flip: Packers

Rick's Pick: Packers 26 Cowboys 24

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