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After a full 16-game season, plus an extra game for half the field, the NFL Divisional Round of the playoffs gets under way this weekend. With another week of do-or-die, win-or-go-home games, this year’s round sports intriguing match-ups that hopefully will make for a great weekend of football.
The past week of games gave us three nail-biters that had fans on the edges of their seats. Will these teams have the magic to pull out another victory from the jaws of defeat, or will the teams coming off of their bye week continue the strong play that got them into top seeds? That is what we will find out. Here are the match-ups.
Coming off of one of the biggest comeback wins in NFL playoff history, the Indianapolis Colts go to Foxboro to take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Andrew Luck once again showed us why he was the No. 1 pick in the draft last year, as he pulled another winner out of his hat, bringing his team back from a 28-point deficit against the Kansas City Chiefs. Trailing 38-10 midway through the third quarter, Luck continued to keep faith, even after throwing his third interception. He orchestrated five second-half touchdown drives, and the Colts hung on to win 45-44.
Now, one of the best young quarterbacks in the league faces one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. Brady is tough to defeat, especially at home. But the Patriots haven’t looked like themselves at times this season. Brady has dealt with multiple personnel losses on the offensive side of the ball. This game will be one of the best over the weekend and could go either way.
The other AFC game pits two division rivals against one another. The San Diego Chargers are on a five-game winning streak after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals last week. This week they face the No. 1-seeded Denver Broncos.
The Broncos set records this season, sporting the highest-scoring offense in the history of the NFL. Peyton Manning set numerous records this season, including the most touchdowns thrown in a season and the most yards thrown for in a season.
But the Chargers don’t seem to be worried. One of their wins over their streak came in Week 15 against the Broncos in Denver, their only home loss of the season. They know what it takes to win there. Plus, Manning has been known to falter in the playoffs. But he also has the chip on his shoulder and is looking to advance to the AFC Championship game. This match-up also looks promising.
Over on the NFC side, the New Orleans Saints travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks in a rematch of a game that didn’t end well for the Saints. The Seahawks demolished New Orleans 34-7.
But the Saints got their first road playoff win in franchise history this past weekend, and they can’t be overlooked. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. That always gives a team a shot at winning. Seattle showed that they can be beaten at home, but not too many are betting against the Seahawks in this game, or throughout the rest of the playoffs.
The final match-up is probably the most difficult one to predict. It pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Carolina Panthers.
The 49ers are coming off of a last-second win over the Green Bay Packers. Right now, they are the hottest team in the league, having won their last seven games. They have a strong defensive front and are dangerous as well on the offensive end.
The Panthers are one of the surprise teams in this year’s playoffs. They have a young quarterback in Cam Newton, who has taken the leap this season and has played lights-out. The Carolina defense is also one of the best in the league. Expect this game to be a tough, physical one.
All the match-ups this weekend are good ones. All will be fun to watch. Let’s hope for the same drama this week that we had in the last.