NFL Playoffs Kick into High Gear After Divisional Round
by Chris Bucci on Friday, January 13th, 2017
For those of you who do not know, the first round of the NFL playoffs took place last weekend. The weekend started off with the Houston Texans facing off against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders looked good in the regular season, and many thought that Oakland would make it pretty far into the playoffs. However, injuries spelled doom for Oakland. Compared to the Texans, who were missing few players besides JJ Watt, the Raiders had to start their third-string quarterback. Star quarterback and MVP candidate Derek Carr broke his fibula during a game against the Indianapolis Colts towards the end of the regular season. The Raiders turned in their first winning season since 2002, but, without Derek Carr to lead the offense, the Raiders suffered a heartbreaking 27-14 loss to the Texans.
Houston has its own share of obstacles to overcome this postseason. The Super Bowl will be held in their stadium this year, and according to CBS Sports, no team has ever advanced to play at home in the Super Bowl. The Texans face major odds to reach the championship as they play the top seeded Patriots in the divisional round. In the regular season, the Patriots beat the Texans 27-0.
The next game showcased the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks emerged victorious by a 26-6 margin. Thomas Rawls, the running back taking over for the retired Marshawn Lynch — a.k.a. “Beast Mode” — led the Seahawks. Rawls rushed for 161 yards, just pushing past Lynch’s Seattle postseason record of 157 yards, and a touchdown. The Lions’ offense could not find the end zone against the Seahawks and settled for two field goals instead.
The next afternoon pitted the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Miami Dolphins as well as the Green Bay Packers against the New York Giants. The Steelers walked away with a comfortable 30-12 victory. According to CBS Sports, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell all played together for the first playoff game ever. Bell rushed for 167 yards, Brown caught five passes for 124 yards, and both scored two touchdowns. These three superstars’ playing together forms a formidable opponent for AFC foes.
The Packers defeated the Giants by the largest spread of the entire Wild Card Weekend: 25 points. New York couldn’t stop quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who led Wild Card Weekend teams in passing yards with 362 yards. Wide receiver Randall Cobb racked up 116 receiving yards as well. Cobb has surpassed 100 yards only twice this season — both of the games were against the Giants.
This upcoming Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons will come off of their bye to face the Seattle Seahawks, and the Houston Texans will try to get through Foxboro in a tough matchup against the New England Patriots. The next day, the Kansas City Chiefs will be tasked with stopping the Pittsburgh Steelers’ potent offense, and the Dallas Cowboys will play the Green Bay Packers in a rematch from last years playoffs. Last year, the Packers eliminated the Cowboys 26-21.
The Patriots are the strong favorites to win the AFC Championship game and reach the Super Bowl. If they live up to expectations, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will have played and coached in seven Super Bowls. If they win, Bill Belichick will become the only coach in the history of the NFL to win five Super Bowls, and Tom Brady will beat out Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for most Super Bowl rings for a quarterback. A lot of Patriots fans, myself included, want the Patriots to win all the more because of Tom Brady’s four game suspension to start the year. Overcoming that obstacle en route to the Super Bowl would be an amazing feat. Plus, Brady would make a statement to Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, that he cannot stop the machine that is the New England Patriots.
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