The NFL Divisional Round opened up Saturday afternoon with a rematch between the Saints and Seahawks. These teams met in Week 13 with a 34-7 drubbing in favor of the Seahawks. And while this game was a bit closer, the result was the same with a 23-15 win that advances the Seahawks to the NFC Championship Game.
Although Russell Wilson didn’t have his best effort, Marshawn Lynch had a huge day on the ground going for 140-yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 carries. Wilson had a lackluster 8-18 performance, where he only threw for 103 yards. But when you have efforts like that which Lynch put in on Sunday, the rest of the offense could breathe a huge sigh of relief.
As for the Saints, Drew Brees was able to play better than he did in that Week 13 matchup. However, his 309-yards on 24-43 passing wasn’t enough. And Brees’ only touchdown of the game came with just 28-second left. However, that touchdown, which was followed by an onside kick recovery made for quite the interesting finish. The game ended on a forward lateral from Marques Colston to what appeared to go towards Darren Sproles. However, the illegal play resulted in a 10-second runoff that shut down any hopes for a miracle victory that the Saints had hoped for.
The Saints were 8-point favorites going into Saturday’s game, which happened to be what the final spread was when the game finished.
If you said that the Patriots would be able to beat the Colts by 21-points, all while Tom Brady failed to reach 200-yards passing or score a touchdown, you’d probably be thought of as a madman among your peers. However, after LeGarrette Blount’s 166-yard & 4-touchdown effort on Saturday night, the Patriots were able to clobber the visiting Indianapolis Colts.
Blount scored early for the Pat’s, as Andrew Luck threw an interception on the first pass of the game and it was quickly turned into 6-points. He would score again in the first quarter, find the end zone for a third time in the second quarter and his fourth score came in the fourth quarter on a 73-yard run. The Patriots made a point to show that despite not having a lot of the key receiving elements that they had last year, they can run the ball down teams throats and still put up tons of points.
As mentioned, Tom Brady only threw for 198-yards on 13-25 passing, and he was unable to find the end zone during the game. On the other side, Andrew Luck threw for 331-yards on 20-41 passing, but he also had four interceptions and only two touchdowns.
The Colts were able to make things interesting with a touchdown in the third that made it 29-22 in favor of the Patriots. However, the Pats would put up 14 in the final quarter to really turn this one into a blowout
The Patriots were favored by 7 ½ going in, and they certainly covered that and then some with the final score.
After Sunday’s NFL Divisional Round games, the tables are set for the conference games next weekend. We are now down to four teams that will be vying for a spot in this year’s Super Bowl, played at MetLife Stadium on February 2nd, 2014.
The first game on Sunday was expected as an exciting matchup between the red-hot 49ers and the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were coming off their first NFC South title since 2008. That divisional title and the second best record in the NFC also earned them a bye week in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, that added time off may have led to a bit of rust that was obvious in a 24-10 win for the 49ers.
In the win, Colin Kaepernick managed the game and played smart. While he had a modest 196-yards passing, he threw for a touchdown to Vernon Davis, and also ran for one on his own in the fourth quarter. That 4-yard run by Kapernick took the game from a close 13-10, to an out of reach 20-10. And it was quickly followed by a Phil Dawson 34-yard field goal, which would eventually be the final score of the game. Dawson would also connect on two other field goals in the opening quarter, putting the 49ers up 6-0 at that point.
Cam Newton, who was picked 34 spots before Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft, threw for 267 yards on 16-25 passing. He also had a touchdown in the air, which was to Steve Smith for 31-yards, and one on the ground, but he threw two untimely interceptions.
The last time these two teams played the Panthers edged out a 10-9 win. However, the 49ers displayed on Sunday that they are a completely different team now that they have a healthy Michael Crabtree. Now the attention will shift to next weeks showdown between the 49ers and Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The two teams split the regular season matchups, with each game winning on their home field.
The 49ers were favored by 3 on Sunday, which they covered with their 13-point win.
The second game on Sunday included the Broncos and the Chargers. The two AFC West teams had split their two games that they played during the regular season, both winning on the others field. Peyton Manning and company wanted to make sure that the Chargers weren’t able to come into Denver and get another win, which they were able to prevent with their own 24-17 win. The Chargers made things interesting late, but the Broncos delivered a steady attack all game long that resulted in the win.
There was a lot of talk going into this game about the Chargers ability to keep the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands in San Diego’s 27-20 win on December 12th. This wasn’t the case this weekend, as the Broncos held the ball for over 35 minutes, which was 10 minutes more than the Chargers. Part of that game management included a 25-36 effort from Manning, including 230 yards in the air and two touchdowns. He also threw a pick, but it was on a weird deflected ball right before halftime. And while Rivers had 217 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18-27 passing, both of those touchdowns came in the final quarter of play.
One problem for the Broncos this season has been their inability to continue momentum throughout an entire game. In their losses against the Chargers and Patriots, they were unable to hold late leads. And in their game against the Colts that resulted in a loss, they came up short despite a strong comeback attempt. In the fourth quarter on Sunday, Broncos fans probably didn’t like to see the surge that the Chargers were able to put on, and that is something they’ll have to work on as they prepare for Tom Brady and the Patriots next weekend. One good note for the Broncos could be that they only allowed 65-yards rushing by the Chargers, which, if this weekend was any indication, the Patriots may try and expose next weekend.
The Broncos fell short last year in this round to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. But now that they host the AFC Championship at home next weekend, they’ll be playing for their first Super Bowl berth since they won it all in 1998.
The Broncos were favored by 9 on Sunday, in the largest spread given during the Divisional Round. However, the late surge by the Chargers resulted in just a 7-point victory that didn’t