NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Biggest Key to Each Divisional Round Game

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after fullback John Kuhn #30 scores on a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Whether your favorite team is still in the NFL playoffs or not, there will be plenty of excitement in the divisional round matchups.

The teams remaining are truly the best in the sport and are certain to provide entertaining battles as each squad looks to reach the conference finals.

However, close games mean that the scores will be decided by small differences. Each side will be looking to get an edge, but there will likely be one factor that can change everything. 

Here is the biggest key to each matchup, as well as everything else you need to know about the weekend games. 


Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.

When: Saturday, Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS


Key to Game: Momentum

Although the Baltimore Ravens stumbled into the playoffs, they had an emotional victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the first round.

The squad needs to bring this momentum with it to Denver. The Ravens have a lot of talent, but they need to remember what it took to win games earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have won 11 games in a row and do not look like they are slowing down anytime soon.

Whichever squad comes out stronger at the beginning of the game will have a huge mental advantage over the other. The other might not have what it takes to come back late.


Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

Where: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.

When: Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: FOX


Key to Game: Quarterback Pressure

The biggest defensive strength for the Green Bay Packers is their ability to rush the quarterback. Clay Matthews led the team with 13 sacks and the squad finished fourth in the NFL with 47 on the year.

With the 49ers starting an inexperienced Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, putting him under pressure will be key.

Of course, it will be tough to continue this against an offensive line that features two Pro Bowlers in Joe Staley and Mike Iupati.

On the other side, the Packers allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL.

Whichever line can protect its passer better should be able to come out victorious in this game. 


Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.

When: Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. ET

Watch: FOX


Key to Game: Home-Field Advantage

Throughout the past few years, these two teams have really enjoyed playing at home. This season, especially, the two combined for a 15-1 home record.

However, Atlanta is the squad that gets to play at home in this battle and that is certain to make a difference. During the regular season, quarterback Matt Ryan has a career home record of 33-5, compared to only 23-17 on the road.

Russell Wilson also struggled away from home early in his career, but that narrative is changing in recent weeks. The Seahawks have now won its last three road games, including last week's first-round game against the Washington Redskins.

If Seattle can overcome the difficult atmosphere of the Georgia Dome, it has the talent to pull the upset over the No. 1 team in the NFC.


Houston Texans at New England Patriots

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

When: Sunday, Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS


Key to Game: Turnover Differential

These teams are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the AFC in turnover differential for the season. However, the Texans finished at plus-12 for the year while the Patriots had an impressive plus-25. 

New England's defense often gives up a lot of yards, but it excels at forcing turnovers to keep opponents off the scoreboard.

Although both teams are usually very careful with the football, Houston has to be especially cautious to be able to stay in this game.

The team that forces the most turnovers is very likely to win this battle between two talented squads.