NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Running Backs Who Will Struggle in Divisional Round

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16: Free safety Rahim Moore #26 of the Denver Broncos recovers a fumble in front of running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens and teammate  Elvis Dumervil #92 during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The deeper you get into the NFL playoffs, the less room running backs find to make a play in.

While four of the eight playoff teams still playing feature a running back that picked up more than 1,000 yards on the ground during the regular season, the defenses that they will be facing in the playoffs are increasingly adept at stuffing the run.

Some of those running backs will have success on the ground despite stiff opposition.

Others, like those below, will finish the day having made far less of an impact on the outcome than we have come to expect.


Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

One of the most dangerous running backs in the league with his ability to impact the game as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield, Rice struggled against Denver the last time the two teams met back in Week 15.

He'd finish the game with only 41 total yards (13 carries for 38 yards and three receptions for three yards), failing to reach the end zone and becoming less and less of a factor as the Broncos took a big lead.

Denver's rush defense is one of the best in the NFL, allowing just over 91 rushing yards per game and a total of only five rushing touchdowns throughout the regular season, a number that puts Denver in a tie with Houston for the fewest in the league.

The problem for Rice in this game is two-fold.

Not only does he have to contend with Denver's defense, but the Broncos offense can put points on the board quickly.

If Denver gets out to another big lead in this one, Baltimore will have no choice other than to abandon the run and try to cut the deficit through the air.


Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

The worst two numbers that a running back can hear are three and zero when someone is talking about their age, as it's typically when we see running backs begin to slow down after carrying a heavy workload for years.

Michael Turner dealt with that throughout the 2012 season, averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry while having only four games where he rushed for 80 yards or more—and only two where he hit triple digits.

When he steps onto the field to face the Seattle Seahawks, those numbers don't figure to get much better. Seattle ranks 10th in the NFL, allowing just over 103 rushing yards per game, but the most impressive statistic is the eight rushing touchdowns that the team has allowed. 

With the bulk of his 10 rushing touchdowns during the regular season coming inside the 5-yard line, that doesn't bode well for Turner finding success on the ground—or being much of a factor—in this one.


Remaining NFL Playoff Schedule

Divisional Playoffs        
Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
Baltimore Denver 1/12/2013 4:30 p.m. ET CBS
Green Bay San Francisco 1/12/2013 8 p.m. ET FOX
Seattle Atlanta 1/13/2013 1 p.m. ET FOX
Houston New England 1/13/2013 4:30 p.m. ET CBS
Conference Championships        
Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
NFC NFC 1/20/2013 TBD TBD
AFC AFC 1/20/2013 TBD TBD
Super Bowl XLVII        
Team 1 Team 2 Date Time TV Info
AFC Winner NFC Winner 2/3/2013 TBD CBS