The divisional round of the 2015 Patriots, Colts, Packers, and Seahawks all moving on. The Patriots and Seahawks made it to this stage last year, but the Colts and Packers are new to the party. Here is the schedule for next week's Conference Championship games:is complete, with the
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Packers vs. Seahawks, 3:05 p.m. ET, FOX
Colts vs. Patriots, 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS
Ranking the Playoff Games
Browns React - Did Dez Bryant Make the Catch?
For the second week in a row, there was a controversial officiating call in the fourth quarter of a playoff game involving the Dallas Cowboys.
1. NFC Championship - Packers vs. Seahawks: This is a re-match from the very first game of the 2014 regular season. The end result in that game saw the Seahawks defending their home turf with a 36-16 onslaught of the Packers. Things were relatively close at halftime -- the Seahawks had a 17-10 lead -- but Seattle went on 12-0 run to begin the second half, shutting the door on Green Bay's chances of staging a comeback.
Both teams are coming off of divisional playoff wins which were tightly contested into the fourth quarter of play. The Seahawks led 14-10 over the Panthers in the fourth quarter before ripping off 17 straight points and eventually winning 31-17. The Packers were down 21-20 in the fourth quarter before Aaron Rodgers zipped a touchdown pass on his bad calf through two defenders. The Cowboys then had a big catch on fourth down by Dez Bryant waived off, which allowed Green Bay to run out the clock and hang on.
This is a battle of the NFC's top two seeds during the regular season. This is a case where home field advantage is so important, though. The Packers are 9-0 at home (including the playoffs), but 4-4 on the road. The Seahawks are 8-1 at home (including the playoffs) as they boast the 12th man advantage and one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. As awe-inspiring as Rodgers' effort was on his injured calf against the Cowboys, how is he going to beat a much better Seahawks defense that will be coming after him every snap of the game?
2. AFC Championship - Colts vs. Patriots: We are witnessing the dawn of a new era in the AFC -- Andrew Luck has already taken down Peyton Manning, and next on his agenda? Tom Brady and the top-seeded Patriots. The Colts hosted the Patriots in mid-November, losing by a score of 42-20.
The matchup earlier this season was closer than the score would let on. New England led 14-10 at halftime, and a Colts touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter made it a 28-20 Patriots lead. The Patriots finish the game with 14 unanswered points, led by the stunning 201-yard rushing effort by running back Jonas Gray. That game was all about the Colts' inability to stop the run, but Indianapolis' defense has been more feisty down the stretch, and they were the only team to come away with a road victory this weekend.
New England is coming off of a shootout win over the Ravens in which they pulled out all of the stops on offense to rally for a victory. This will feel just like the old days of the Patriots vs. Colts, only with a new quarterback under center for the Colts. Is Luck ready to take that next step in his young career, or will Brady show that he still has another ring left in him?