Wednesday Morning QB (Divisional Weekend)

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The NFL took one more step towards the Super Bowl as eight teams played the Divisional round to earn a spot in the conference championships. The weekend was not the same fast paced surprise filled weekend of the wild card with more predictable outcomes this week. The matchups were perfect settings for upsets this week as the top teams in the league would look to move on to the conference championships. In almost every matchup the top teams would take home the win and even when the lower seed won a game it was expected. In New England the inexperience of the Indianapolis Colts would show as Andrew Luck could not manufacture a comeback this time falling to Tom Brady and the Pats. The other AFC game would feature the team that many believe to be the best in the NL as the Denver Broncos would take on the San Diego Chargers and would stave off a late comeback by Philip Rivers to take the win. In the NFC the Seattle Seahawks would show that their home field advantage works against the worst road team in the league in New Orleans as they never really seemed in danger and would take the win. The only road team to win was the San Francisco 49ers but something about the matchup and the run that the Niners are on showed that the home team was not the favorite. The Panthers would host their first playoff game since 2008 and would show the rust as the Niners would take the win in another unsurprising finish. There was one surprising trend for the weekend though as the passing league that the NFL has become would go away. There was a call back to old school football in divisional week as the running backs would take over. In New England Tom Brady would take a backseat to the 166 yards of LeGarrette Blount while in Denver the pairing of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball would add up to 134 yards that gave Peyton Manning the space he needed to throw for over 200 yards in the game. In Seattle Marshawn Lynch would have another huge playoff game as he would run for 140 yards and would help the Seahawks to the win. San Francisco would make it a team effort running for a total of 126 yards between Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and Colin Kaepernick. It was a move back to the old days of football as weather conditions and game planning would bring back the run game in the divisional round of the playoffs. It was a great week for running backs and could continue in the conference championships. As the playoffs continue four teams remain in the hunt for the Super Bowl and they are the teams that everyone wanted to be here. The Conference Championships will feature two of the biggest matchups in the NFL as anytime these four teams face off against each other there is always plenty of talk. In the AFC Championship the two greatest QBs of this era will face off once again. It has happened for the better part of the last decade in the AFC as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning continue to play in important games. At first it was Peyton Manning leading his Indianapolis Colts against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The rivalry would shift when Peyton Manning moved to the Denver Broncos but it is still there. The game is less about the teams and more about two QBs trying to prove that they are the best QB so when both walk off into the sunset they are considered the best QB of the era. In the NFC there is a different rivalry as it is one that has developed only in the past few seasons between two teams. The NFC West used to be the worst division in the league as they would regularly be put to the bottom of the division winners. Then Seattle would hire Pete Carroll in 2010 and would draft Russell Wilson 2012 while the San Francisco 49ers would hire Jim Harbaugh and would draft Colin Kaepernick in 2011. These moves would change the face of the NFL and created two super powers that have been fighting it out in the NFC West and have developed a serious hate for each other. When the season started the thought was one of the two teams would be playing in the Super Bowl and that will be true as the best rivalry in the NFL today becomes much more important this week. The Super Bowl is right around the corner and the playoffs are only getting better with a big conference weekend ahead that will feature two great matchups that will set up for a great Super Bowl.

 

Fifth Quarter:
(Four Quick Thoughts on Divisional Week)

Three More Spots Down
Coaching openings are falling every week as Jim Caldwell would be hired in Detroit, Ken Wisenhunt in Tennessee, and Jay Gruden in Washington with only two more spots open and fewer options for the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings to choose from

Peyton’s Last Stand
A comment earlier in the week would bring up a lot of debate as Peyton Manning would claim that the light was at the end of the tunnel for him leading many to believe that this may be his last playoff run

Let the Debate Begin
Johnny Manziel is one of the most debated QB prospects in football and the debate will only get hotter with Johnny Football declaring for the NFL draft and many people considering him the third best QB prospect in the draft

 

 

Divisional Round:

American Football Conference:
New England Patriots 43 – 22 Indianapolis Colts
– The Indianapolis Colts had made a habit of making great comebacks and that would translate to the playoffs but they would not be able to pull one off against Tom Brady and the Patriots as their inexperience would show leading to an end to their season

Denver Broncos 24 – 17 San Diego Chargers
– Philip Rivers and the Chargers were the hottest team in the NFL playoffs as they had put together 5 big wins in the last five weeks but that hot streak was not enough to overcome the best offence in the NFL as the Broncos would take the win

National Football Conference:
Seattle Seahawks 23 – 15 New Orleans Saints
– The Seahawks are the best home team in the NFL and the Saints are among the worst road teams in the league and both would show as the Seahawks would take the win and look forward to hosting the NFC Championship

San Francisco 49ers 23 – 10 Carolina Panthers
– The Niners came into the week as one of the few visiting teams that many believed to be the better team in their matchup as they would travel to Carolina and get past the Panthers that seemed to be one of the hotter teams in the playoffs

 

Conference Championships 

American Football Conference:
New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos (Sunday January 19th; 3:00 pm ET)
– It is a matchup of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning again as the two best QBs of the era face off for the AFC Championship in what has become a familiar matchup between the two with a spot in the Super Bowl at stake

National Football Conference:
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Sunday January 19th; 6:30 pm ET)
– The NFC West rivalry translates to the NFC Championship as two teams that used to be a part of the worst division in the NFL now face off for the conference crown with the Niners hoping to get back to the Super Bowl and the Seahawks hoping to spoil their repeat

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