If the 2012 NFL Playoffs were a movie, that movie would be Groundhog Day. In Wildcard Weekend, we had 3 out of the 4 match-ups with teams that already faced each other in past postseason match-ups. This time around, we got not only two games from earlier match-ups during the regular season but the rekindling of a famous one-sided rivalry from the last 90s. Let's get things started.
Last Week: 2-2
Playoff Record: 2-2
Saturday 4:30 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos
This will be a rematch of Week 15 where the Broncos came in and smacked around the Ravens 34-17. In that game however, LB Ray Lewis, SS Bernard Pollard, OG Masrhal Yanda, and TE Dennis Dickerson were out due to injury. Now all are back and ready to go at full game speed. However they'll be facing an offense that's well rested as well as more-seasoned compared to the Colts offense. Not too mention that this will be the 9th game that pitches the Ravens up against Peyton Manning. Unfortunately for them, he's 7-2 against them, including 2-0 in the postseason. As much as of a hall-of-fame career Ray Lewis has had, it'll come to an end in Mile High Stadium.
Saturday 8:00 p.m.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
This will be the 6th playoff meeting between the Packers and the 49ers. Overall, Green Bay leads the series 4-1 and outscoring San Fran 137-86. The last time these two teams met was back in the 2001 Wildcard where the Packers won 25-15 at Lambeau. However the last playoff match-up in San Francisco was a 30-27 in the '98 Wildcard. Even though the 49ers beat the Packers in a 30-22 Week 1 match-up at Lambeau, that was with Alex Smith under center. Now with Colin Katpernick, he presents more of a dual threat that can throw or scramble. The good news for Green Bay is that they will be with LB Clay Matthews and DB Charles Woodson. But at the same time, the 49ers have the running game on offense that can take time off the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. Not too mention that the Green Bay offense has allowed the 2nd most sacks this season (51.0) and will be going up against that 49ers pass rush, led by NFC sack leader Aldon Smith.
Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
We've all seen this song and dance before in the past. Falcons get into the playoffs and then Falcons get knocked out in One-and-Done fashion. Last time the Falcons were the #1 seed was back in the 2010 playoffs where they lost to the eventual Super Champs, the Packers, 48-21. The good news for the Falcons is that they will not have to face Seahawks DE Chris Clemons, who torn his ACL in last weeks 24-14 W over the Redskins. Still with the receiving trio of Jones-White-Gonzalez, they'll be having to face that hard hitting and over-sized secondary of Seattle. Not to mention that on the defensive side of the ball the Falcons could be without their two top players in DB Dunta Robinson and DE John Abraham, both sustained injuries during the last regular season game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All Seattle has to do is just hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch and let him get into Beast Mode. If he does, then it's all over.
Sunday 4:30 p.m.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
And so we have a rematch between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots. Last time these two teams meet in Week 14 up in Foxborough, it was the Patriots who dominated 42-14 and sent the Texans into a tailspin. Now the Texans are looking for revenge and it would appear that history is on their side. During the Belicheck/Brady Era, the Patriots are 6-6 in the playoffs against teams that they met in the regular season. Not to mention that it was 2 years ago that the Patriots got upset at home by the New York Jets in the same scenario (Divisional Home playoff game) 28-21 after crushing them 45-3 at home in week 13 of that same season. The Texans had a banged up defense with DB Johnathan Joseph and starting LB Brooks Reed hampered by injuries. But in that same retrospect, the Patriots were without TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as well as both are healthy and ready to play this Sunday. The Texans might put up a better fight than the last time these two teams met, but it'll come down to who has more experience in the playoofs and we all know the answer to that.
-Ryan L. Fox
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