NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Key Matchups for Sunday's Games
Sunday's NFL playoff games aren't quite as sexy as the Saturday games, but a Super Bowl participant could be playing in one of the two games.
Here is the schedule for Saturday and Sunday's games:
No. 4 Baltimore Ravens at No. 1 Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Houston Texans travel to Gillette Stadium in an effort to upset the New England Patriots. The Seattle Seahawks will be looking to grab another playoff road win at the Georgia Dome against the Atlanta Falcons.
Here are the key matchups that will determine which teams advance to the conference title games.
Texans at Patriots
Chris Myers and Ben Jones/Wade Smith vs. Vince Wilfork
Depending on which gap Wilfork tries to plug, Texans' center Myers will get some help trying to keep Wilfork from collapsing Arian Foster's inside running lanes.
Wilfork's ability to stuff the run will be huge in this matchup. If he can be the factor against the run that he was in the team's first meeting, it will be difficult for the Texans to win.
Foster was held to only 46 yards on 15 rushes in the Patriots' 42-14 loss. You can credit Wilfork for the Texans star's subpar day.
Although Wilfork only had four tackles, his ability to hold ground and penetrate, breaks down a running game.
Tom Brady vs. Barrett Ruud
This just sounds like a mismatch from the beginning. The Texans' defense hasn't been the same since Brian Cushing went down with a torn ACL on Oct. 8.
Ruud has a great motor, but he isn't capable of getting the defense in place, nor is he the same type of emotional leader as Cushing.
If he is tasked with matching wits with Brady, he is at a disadvantage.
Brady is too experienced, has too many weapons and is just too good.
Seahawks at Falcons
Seahawks' Secondary vs. Falcons' Receivers
The Falcons' Julio Jones and Roddy White are perhaps the best receiver-tandem in the NFL. The Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are among the NFL's best cornerbacks.
The team that wins this matchup will win this game.
The Seahawks must contain Jones and White. Sherman and Browner will get help from two great safeties in Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, but the intermediate assignments will belong to the corners.
John Abraham vs. Russell Okung
The Falcons haven't gotten a ton of pressure on quarterbacks this season. Their 29 sacks ranked only 28th in the NFL this season.
That said, Abraham led the team in sacks with 10.
Okung will draw the responsibility of protecting Russell Wilson from the Falcons' best pass-rusher. If he does a solid job, the Falcons will likely have to depend on blitzes to get pressure on Wilson.
That will open up the short passing game and draws and misdirections.
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