The Wild Card Round for the NFL playoffs is finally wrapped up, and the bracket is officially set for the divisional round.
The Indianapolis Colts overcame a 28-point deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. Both the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers were able to come up with game-winning field goals to win their games, while the San Diego Chargers, who barely made it into the postseason, took down Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals.
With those games out of the way, let's take a look at the updated playoff bracket, followed by a preview of the four divisional games.
|Indianapolis at New England||Jan. 11||8:15 p.m.||CBS|
|San Diego at Denver||Jan. 12||4:40 p.m. ET||CBS|
|AFC Championship Game||Jan. 19||TBA||CBS|
|New Orleans at Seattle||Jan. 11||4:35 p.m.||FOX|
|San Francisco at Carolina||Jan. 12||1:05 p.m.||FOX|
|NFC Championship Game||Jan. 19||TBA||FOX|
|Super Bowl Game||Feb. 2||6:30 p.m.||FOX|
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Date: Saturday, January 11
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
After an incredible comeback from the Colts, Andrew Luck will be looking to lead his team to the AFC Championship Game, but they will have to get through the New England Patriots first.
Tom Brady has had a shaky season, but mostly due to the fact that his weapons have failed to stay healthy. Rob Gronkowski is out until at least next year, and his weapons keep missing games. For the Colts, they've been without their star receiver in Reggie Wayne, but players like T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen have picked up the slack.
These two teams have a lot of history, but it's always been with Peyton Manning playing for the Colts. This will be an opportunity for Luck to prove himself once again in just his second year as he tries to keep Indianapolis alive.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Date: Sunday, January 12
Time: 4:40 p.m. ET
This will be the third time these two AFC West teams go head-to-head, and with the series tied at one game apiece, both sides will be giving it their all in this critical matchup.
The last time these two met, Chargers pulled off the upset, winning 27-20. It was one of their four straight wins to help them push into the playoffs. With the win over the Bengals, the Chargers are still hot, and their offense keeps making big plays.
But the San Diego offense is going to have to find a way to keep up with Manning and the Denver Broncos. Manning had one of the best seasons any quarterback has ever had, passing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
With two hot offenses and some questionable defenses, this game could wind up being a shootout.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
Date: Sunday, Jan. 12
Time: 1:05 p.m. ET
In what was a crazy game until the end, the 49ers were able to escape a freezing Lambeau Field thanks to a game-winning field goal against the Green Bay Packers. The road won't get any easier, however, as now the 49ers will have to play the Carolina Panthers.
These two teams met back in Week 10, and it was an ugly game. The Panthers squeaked out a 10-9 win, completely shutting down Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers offense thanks to a terrific game defensively.
The big storyline entering this game is that two exciting, young and mobile quarterbacks in Kaepernick and Cam Newton will be going head-to-head, but they're each surrounded by a lot of talent. Both quarterbacks have great defenses to back them up, and this one could be yet another low-scoring affair.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Date: Saturday, January 11
Time: 4:35 p.m. ET
The Saints finally proved that they can win a road playoff game, but the road gets much tougher in the divisional round, as they will have to go back to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.
When these two teams met back in Week 13, it was ugly. The Seahawks won 34-7, holding the Saints to just 188 total yards, including just 44 rushing yards on 17 carries. Drew Brees completed 23 of his 39 passes for just 147 yards and a touchdown, as the Saints simply couldn't get anything done.
The Seahawks allowed just 273.6 yards and 14.4 points per game during the regular season, leading the NFL in both categories. The Saints have been a strong team offensively with players like Brees, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles, but a matchup against the Seahawks once again doesn't bode well for them.
Still, we've seen that anything can happen in the NFL, especially during the playoffs, so we will have to wait and see if the Saints can turn things around this time.