There were two big upsets in the wildcard round of the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks took down the defending champions, the New Orleans Saints. The Green Bay Packers squeezed by Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles in a last minute thriller that had everyone standing on their couches. Here are this week’s divisional round playoff matches in the NFC.
Green Bay Packers (10-6) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3)- Saturday, January 15 8:00 p.m. EST on FOX:
These two teams met in November. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers fell short of Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 on a last-second field goal. This match is a highly-vamped rematch that the Packers are looking to win.
The Green Bay Packers offense features Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and James Starks at running back, and arguably the best receiving corps in the league featuring Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Brett Swain. The Green Bay Packers offense doesn’t have any great explosive players, but as a whole, this team poses the strongest threat on the NFC side of the playoffs.
The Atlanta Falcons’ offense features Matt Ryan, who has the best home records in the NFL, Michael Turner and Jason Snelling at running back, and Roddy White and Michael Jenkins as wide receivers. Tony Gonzales is one of the most active tight-ends in the league and is a reliable target for Matt Ryan.
When the Packers have the ball:
There are plenty of key match-ups when the Green Bay Packers have the ball. The biggest will be for the Packers’ offensive line to stop Jonathan Babineaux and John Abraham from getting to Aaron Rodgers. We will probably see John Abraham lined up on Bryan Bulaga so that they can try to exploit this rookie. We will also see key match-ups on the outside with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. We will probably see Dunta Robinson across from Greg Jennings and Brent Grimes across from Donald Driver. James Starks may have brought some new light to the Packers’ running game last week, and Green Bay will look to use that to their advantage to help them control the clock and spread the ball more. If the Packers can have a productive running game with Starks and Jackson, Aaron Rodgers will be able to have a productive game against the Falcons’ defense.
When the Falcons have the ball:
The bigger match-ups come when the Atlanta Falcons have the ball. Matt Ryan and Roddy White are one of the biggest duo threats in the league. We will probably see Charles Woodson against Roddy White and Sam Shields against Michael Jenkins. The Packers know that they need to put pressure on Matt Ryan and will be utilizing their tough 3-4 defense to add confusion to the Falcons’ offensive line. They will be utilizing the blitz to put pressure on Ryan. Todd McClure will be across from B.J Raji, who will most likely be double-teamed for most of the game. The Packers will be utilizing many different blitz packages, sending in Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, and A.J. Hawk to try to take down Ryan in the backfield. The Packers’ run defense hasn’t been the best this year and is prone to giving up big plays. Michael Turner needs to be stopped if the Packers are going to take control of this game.
Packers 28, Falcons 24
Seattle Seahawks (7-9) at Chicago Bears (11-5)- Sunday January 16 1:00 p.m. EST on FOX:
The last time these two teams met, the Seahawks took down the Bears in Chicago. The Seattle Seahawks took down the defending champions last week, the New Orleans Saints. This week, they put their focus on the Chicago Bears. Matt Hasselbeck had one of his best games as a quarterback in the playoffs and is looking for a repeat performance this week against the tough Bears’ defense. Marshawn Lynch had probably one of the most stunning runs last week, which inspired us all.
The Seattle Seahawks’ offense features Matt Hasselbeck under center, Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett in the backfield, and Mike Williams at wide receiver.
The Chicago Bears’ offense features Jay Cutler at quarterback, Matt Forte and Chester Taylor at running back, and Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester at wide receiver.
When the Seattle Seahawks have the football
Matt Hasselbeck is the leader of this offense, but this came into question, when Charlie Whitehurst played as the starting quarterback in the game that took them to the playoffs. Marshawn Lynch will be the key for this offense this week, because the Bears’ passing defense is one of the best in the league. Julius Peppers has been one of the most threatening pass rushers and will be facing Russell Okung, which will be a favorable match-up for Peppers. Matt Hasselbeck will be utilizing the short passing game to get the ball out quickly to prevent being sacked.
When the Chicago Bears have the football
This offense will be facing a defense that is ranked 25th in league for points allowed. Jay Cutler’s biggest threat will be Lofa Tatupu who has 2 forced fumbles and a pick this year. Matt Forte will be able to run well against the defensive line and break through the secondary multiple times. Jay Culter will most likely try to exploit favorable match-ups with Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett for big gains.
Chicago Bears 25, Seattle Seahawks 17