The first round of the 2014is complete, with the , , , and 49ers all moving on. Here is the schedule for next week's divisional round games:
Saturday, Jan. 11
Saints vs. , 4:35 p.m. ET, FOX
Colts vs. , 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Sunday, Jan. 12
49ers vs. , 1:05 p.m. ET, FOX
Chargers vs. , 4:40 p.m. ET, CBS
Quick Look at the Playoff Games
|Divisional Playoffs ||Preview of What to Expect|
The Saints did not match up too well against the Seahawks earlier this season, losing in Seattle by a score of 34-7. Drew Brees could not get the ball down the field against Seattle's cornerbacks, and they never could get their running game going. Russell Wilson also had one of his best games of the season.
The Saints should certainly be expected to rebound with a much stronger effort this time around, but Seattle is still extremely tough to beat at home, where they are 15-1 over the past two seasons. That is why getting home-field advantage was imperative for them this season.
The Colts squaring off against the Patriots in the postseason is a familiar sight, but it's the first time that we'll see Andrew Luck steering the ship against Tom Brady. These two teams met during the regular season in 2012, and the Patriots crushed the Colts by a score of 59-24. Things are much different since that game -- the Patriots have a whole different group of receivers they are trying to manage things with, and Luck had perhaps the defining moment of his young career when he led a stunning comeback win over the Chiefs.
The Patriots are another team that has a true home-field advantage -- they were 8-0 at Gillette Stadium in 2013. If the Colts are going to have any chance, they'll need to get their defense fixed. The Colts have had so many three-touchdown+ comebacks this year, but they can't keep doing that.
The Panthers should be getting a lot more respect than they are receiving. After beginning the season at 1-3, they won 11 of their final 12 games to earn a first-round bye. Aside from the Seahawks, the Panthers have the best defense in the NFL by far. The Panthers bring the right amount of punch offensively, too, led by a matured Cam Newton. Will Newton thrive in his first career playoff game?
The 49ers met the Panthers in Week 10 at Candlestick, and Carolina's defense held strong for a 10-9 victory. One would expect a coach like Jim Harbaugh, fresh off of a win over the Packers, to have plenty of adjustments in store for the Panthers this time around, but still, there aren't many weaknesses to attack on Carolina's defense.
Not many teams expect to have a shot at the postseason when their record is 5-7 during the regular season, but the Chargers won their final four games and took out the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs on the road. One of the teams that San Diego beat during their stretch at the end of the season? The Broncos, in Denver, by a score of 27-20. They also played them tough earlier in the season.
The Broncos are going to have to find a way to beat the Chargers, because San Diego has proven to be one of the few teams in the NFL that matches up very well against them. Although Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had some epic playoff battles, don't forget that Manning and Philip Rivers have had their own epic playoff battles as well. Let's not forget that in 2007 and 2008, Rivers eliminated Manning from the playoffs. In the rubber match between these two teams, who will come out on top?