Now that the NFL Divisional Playoffs in the books, we’re heading into the conference championship games with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts all vying for a spot in the Super Bowl. Both playoff games this weekend will pit a veteran quarterback against a three-year quarterback as each competes for that coveted matchup in Arizona next month.
Sunday’s first matchup will have Russell Wilson and the Seahawks hosting Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. While Rodgers’ calf didn’t get in the way of a victory over the Dallas Cowboys, he’ll be facing the NFL’s highest-ranked pass defense who’ll be sure to keep Rodgers scrambling more than he did this past weekend. Rodgers most definitely needs this week to work on healing his calf which surely could limit him if he is pressured.
The Seahawks had two sacks on Cam Newton last week, and we know they’ll be wanting to get at Rodgers as well. For those who recall, Rodgers’ first game of the 2014 season was played in Seattle where he didn’t fare too well. He threw for only 189 yards with one touchdown and one interception. During the course of the regular season, the Seahawks not-so-generously allowed opposing quarterbacks an average of only 199 yards and 1.06 touchdowns per game.
Where Rodgers has better receivers, Russell Wilson will once again have to work with a group of young receivers who are still evolving. The Packers averaged 2.56 sacks per game over the course of the regular season. Additionally, the Packers sacked Tony Romo four times in Sunday’s divisional playoff game. They’ll do what they can to get at Wilson before he resorts to doing what he does best…run. The Packers will have their hands full trying to put the brakes on Wilson, who has completed 137 passes while on the move, the most of any of the NFL playoff quarterbacks.
Something will have to give. Either the mobile quarterback with a raw group of receivers or the quarterback who has limited mobility with the amazing receiving weapons will be the man who comes out on top on Sunday.
The final game of the conference playoffs will have Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who outplayed Peyton Manning on Sunday, heading to Foxborough to face Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Going up against a Patriots defense that has controlled Luck in their previous three meetings (all Patriot wins), is a daunting factor for Luck to consider.
During those three meetings, Luck was sacked 10 times and threw seven interceptions. He will have to remain extremely sharp and turnover free if he and the Colts have any chance at pulling off a win over the Patriots. While Luck led the NFL with 40 passing touchdowns during the regular year, he also ranked second in turnovers with six lost fumbles and 16 interceptions.
Brady is coming off a tough outing, which saw the Patriots come from behind after trailing Baltimore nearly all game.
And where a tired Peyton Manning couldn’t get much going against the Colts’ defense, it won’t be the same for Brady. Look for Brady to exploit the Colts’ safeties with a heavy dose of tight end Rob Gronkowski. Additionally, the Patriots wide receiving trio of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell were nearly unstoppable as they laid 418 receiving yards on Baltimore’s unsuspecting defense. Look for Brady to hit up those wide receivers, making the Colts’ cornerbacks go into overdrive in the attempt to limit them.
This matchup certainly favors the Brady. However, Luck and his capable offense shouldn’t be taken lightly.