Wild Card Recap
The first round of the NFL playoffs underwhelmed in terms of excitement — with no game decided by fewer than 13 points. Last week saw the largest average margin of victory in the first round of the playoffs since the merger, with all four home teams coming out victorious.
Despite the blowouts, there were some notable performances to remember:
Thomas Rawls set a Seahawks playoff rushing record with 161 yards on the ground.
Le’Veon Bell did the same thing for his franchise with 167 yards, just a month after setting the all-time Steelers record with 236 rushing yards.
Paul Richardson blessed us all with this catch.
Aaron Rodgers’ four passing touchdowns tied for the most in Packers’ playoff history, and three of those went to Randall Cobb, matching a league postseason record.
Divisional Round Playoff Schedule
Saturday , January 14
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons – 1:35 PM PT
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots – 5:15 PM PT
Sunday, January 15
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs – 10:05 AM PT
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys – 1:40 PM PT
What to Watch for in the Divisional Round
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons (-4)
Previous matchup – Week 6 at Seattle; Seahawks won 26-24
Atlanta led the league in scoring during the regular season, averaging over 33 points per game, while the Seahawks were the third-best scoring defense. The Falcons want to throw the ball and they’ll look to take advantage of the absence of Seahawks’ safety Earl Thomas. After Thomas went out in Week 13, Seattle allowed one of the highest touchdown rates to opposing passers in the league.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (-15.5)
Previous matchup – Week 3 at New England; Patriots won 27-0 (without Tom Brady)
Since the merger, only two teams have been favored by more in a playoff game than the Patriots are this week. New England combines a top-three scoring offense with the defense that allowed the fewest points in the league. There isn’t a matchup that Houston can exploit that will give them a chance to pull out the ‘W’ in Foxboro.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
Previous matchup – Week 4 at Pittsburgh; Steelers won 43-14
Winners of their last eight games, the Steelers go into Kansas City riding the longest winning streak in the league. Ben Roethlisberger was seen in a walking boot after Pittsburgh’s Wild Card game. His ankle injury could play a major factor on Sunday even if it limits his mobility just marginally. The Steelers’ offensive line will have a much tougher time with the Chiefs’ pass rush than they did against the Dolphins.
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
Previous matchup – Week 6 at Green Bay; Cowboys won 30-16
Although Green Bay dominated the Giants, the loss of Jordy Nelson could be a huge blow to their chances at a Super Bowl run. Nelson fractured at least two ribs on Sunday and is doubtful to play this week. Luckily for Green Bay, the Cowboys weakness in the passing game is against interior pass catchers, and that’s where the Packers exploited the Giants once cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie exited the game. With a much more well-rounded offense than New York, Dallas should put up a much better fight and this game could easily be the highest scoring, and most exciting, of the week.
TJ Hernandez is an editor at 4for4.com and the founder of RosterCoach.com. You can follow him on twitter @TJHernandez.
*The blog is for entertainment purposes only and in no way should be used in making wagers of any kind.