VIDEO: NFL Wild Card Weekend Over, Upcoming Divisional Round Loaded With Storylines
By Gregg Rosenthal, Around The NFL Editor // January 9, 2017
ABOVE VIDEO: Sit down interview with Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers.
(NFL) – The bright side of a historically lopsided Wild Card Round arrives next weekend.
Wins by Green Bay and Seattle helped to guarantee a loaded and rather familiar Divisional Round. Pete Carroll and Mike McCarthy have standing reservations for the NFL’s best weekend, leading their teams to the quarterfinals for the sixth time in seven tries this decade. (The Patriots have made it all seven years.)
While the blowouts preceding an entertaining Giants-Packers affair didn’t make for great football, it efficiently cut the fat from this season. There were never 12 true title contenders, not even 12 “drink a few beers, squint and anything is possible” types of contender. The eight remaining teams are all division winners. The top four MVP candidates and best offenses are left. With the exception of the Texans, these are the teams football fans should want to see.
Before breaking down the repercussions of Wild Card weekend, let’s take a quick look ahead at the Divisional Round.
Seattle at Atlanta: This is a rematch of one of the best games of the season, a moment in defeat that convinced me Matt Ryan wasn’t going away. This is a proud Seahawks defense that ranks with the great units in NFL history over a five-year stretch. Their big players all stepped up against the Lions, but this is their ultimate test: Taking down the best big-play offense in football on a fast track. This 2016 campaign has been full of great offenses laying waste to any team bold enough to wear the “best defense” crown.
Green Bay at Dallas: FOX executives should be dancing in the streets with their NFC draw, especially this hypefest matchup waiting to happen. The Cowboys have proven they can win shootouts before against Pittsburgh. It wouldn’t be surprising if both teams dropped a fortyburger in JerryWorld. It’s comforting to know the prospects of this game will be part of our lives for the entire next week.
Houston at New England: The one huge mismatch on the docket is a nightmare scenario for the Texans. There is familiarity for coach Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, but there is also a mismatch at quarterback in a Divisional Round game perhaps not seen since Tim Tebow visited Foxborough. At least Jadeveon Clowney gets another game in the spotlight.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City: Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s bid for revenge should be a fascinating contrast of styles. In this offense-heavy year, these are the two most balanced teams still playing.