Here are the results of the Wildcard playoff round last week.
Zac Weiss – 4-0 (153-87-1)
Matt Shetler – 3-1 (150-90-1)
Matt Gajtka – 4-0 (149-91-1)
Jason Harding – 2-2 (145-95-1)
Now for a look at this week’s divisional round playoff games.
Baltimore at Denver
Ray Lewis has played his final game at home and that’s not a good thing for Baltimore fans. Not only have they seen the last of Lewis in person, but the Ravens have struggled on the road in the past. Baltimore travels to a tough atmosphere while the Broncos finished the season on an 11-game winning streak. Peyton Manning knows how to prepare for the bye week and likely enjoyed the rest. The Broncos beat the Ravens in Week 15 34-17, but dominated the entire game. In Denver’s final three games they posted 34, 34 and 38 points respectively. However, the biggest factor in this game is the Broncos defense. They have been stingy to give up big plays late in the season. Last week the Ravens had some trouble on offense, but mostly due to Ray Rice’s fumbles. Rice is normally a very consistent non-turnover player. Rice will need to have a big game and Joe Flacco will have to keep it close early if they want a chance to win.
Broncos: Shetler, Weiss, Harding, Gajtka
Green Bay at San Francisco
These two teams met in week one with San Francisco pulling out a 30-22 victory at Lambeau Field. Last week the Packers handled Minnesota with a 24-10 win. Aaron Rodgers looked poised to make a run in the playoffs. He went 23-33 with 274 yards 1TD and no INTs. Not Rodgers best statistical performance, but he managed to spread the ball around with 10 different players with receptions. The Packers will need to find a better run game this week against a tougher run D. Last week they only managed 76 total yards on the ground. The big difference in the 49ers from Week 1 to Week 19 is Colin Kaepernick wasn’t their starter the first time they played. In only his second season this will be Kaepernick’s first post-season appearance. Coach McCarthy claims that Kaepernick is a tougher QB to prepare for due to his mobility. No doubt Frank Gore will have to play a big role to keep the pressure off his QB.
49ers: Weiss, Harding
Packers: Shetler, Gajtka
Seattle at Atlanta
Coach Mike Smith knows that his Atlanta Falcons have a tough task on hand this Sunday. The Falcons are 0-3 under Smith in the playoffs and face a difficult Seattle team at home. Atlanta’s run game has been lacking as the season progressed and Seattle only gave up 80 yards last week to Alfred Morris. Jacquizz Rodgers and Michael Turner are going to have to piece together a solid 1-2 punch performance. Matt Ryan is capable of putting up big numbers but has yet to prove himself in the post-season. Ryan’s top targets Roddy White and Julio Jones have the big matchups against Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. If Seattle can stop the run and force the game on Ryan’s shoulders they can put added pressure on the QB. Russell Wilson continues to put people views on standards into perspective. The rookie was told he was too small to play QB in the NFL, but hasn’t wavered yet. Much of the ease on Wilson comes from the legs of Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks averaged 223 yards on the road in their last three games.
Seahawks: Shetler, Weiss, Harding
Houston at New England
When these two teams met earlier in the season Tom Brady shred the Texans defense and the final score was 42-14. That game was the start of the Texans big slide to finish the season. Houston got back on track last week with a 19-14 win at home against the Bengals. Arian Foster had 140 yards last week, but only managed 46 yards the first time these two teams met. All season the Texans have relied on a heavy run game and solid D. This week their defense will need to play their best yet against the top scoring offense in the league. The last time they met the Patriots were without Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is back in the line-up and a big mismatch against however they put against him. New England has changed the game with the use of tight ends and this week will be another perfect display of how effective it can be.
Patriots: Shetler, Weiss, Harding, Gajtka