NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoff Schedule 2014: How to Watch All 4 Divisional Playoff Games

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers after the Panthers beat the 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJanuary 10, 2014

Many of the NFL's elite quarterbacks are set to compete in the divisional playoff round. Up-and-comers and established veteran stars present NFL fans with a myriad of compelling QB battles for the weekend's games.

Despite the overall impact on each franchise, it should entertaining watching this stage of each quarterback's career unfold. Ryan Lownes of Draft Breakdown observes the common asset of the remaining eight teams in the NFL playoffs.

Even though his "if" didn't come true, the concept of his tweet remains valid.

Here's how you can watch the action.

 

Saturday, Jan. 11Time (EST)TVLocation
New Orleans at Seattle4:35 PMFoxCenturyLink Field
Indianapolis at New England8:15 PMCBSGillette Stadium
Sunday, Jan. 12Time (EST)TVLocation
San Francisco at Carolina1:05 PMFoxBank of America Stadium
San Diego at Denver4:40 PMCBSSports Authority Field at Mile High

 

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

2013 Meeting: Seattle won 34-7 in Week 13 in Seattle

Drew Brees vs. Russell Wilson

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 29:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks downfield to pass against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field on December 29, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

So much for needing a tall quarterback. NFL Stats points out how both Brees and Wilson buck the stereotype against shorter signal-callers.

When the two teams met in Week 13, Wilson was magnificent. With the Saints keyed in on stopping the Seahawks' run game, Wilson made them pay with a 310-yard, three-touchdown performance. 

Brees has had issues solving the Seahawks in Seattle—as has most other teams over the last two years. Brees had a season-low 147 yards passing in the regular-season meeting. Seattle does have the No. 1-rated pass defense in the NFL. It is bolstered by a big, physical and athletic secondary capable of making it difficult for the Saints' receivers.

All things point to Wilson and the Seahawks coming out on top in this one.

 

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

2013 Meeting: None

Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 29:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws for a two-point conversion as Jerry Hughes #55 of the Buffalo Bills defends in the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim R
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Luck engineered a remarkable comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round, but the only time he's played at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots and Brady, he wasn't at his best.

During his rookie season in 2012, Luck threw three picks with two of them going back for touchdowns. The Colts lost 59-24.

Brady was masterful in the game. He threw for 331 yards and three scores. Though his supporting cast has changed this season, the future Hall of Famer still has a more consistent run game, home-field advantage and experience on his side.

The two stars have had very similar beginnings to their careers as this tweet from ESPN Stats and Info points out:

Tom Terrific knows there are a lot of moving parts, though the focus is on the QB battle. Per Field Yates of ESPN.com, Brady said this of the upcoming matchup with Luck and the Colts:

My motivation is pretty simple. I just try to win, that's what I try to do and try to be part of the reason why we're successful. That's part of doing my job and trying to be the best I can be for the team. It really doesn't have anything to do with anybody on the other team and what their motivation might be.

Luck and the Colts will have to wait a little longer before they take the next step in the AFC. Brady and the Pats will move on.

 

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers

2013 Meeting: Carolina won 10-9 in Week 10 in San Francisco

Colin Kaepernick vs. Cam Newton

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rolls out to look for a receiver against the Green Bay Packers during an NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The 49ers defeated
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In a matchup of two of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the NFL, the difference could very well come down to the signal-caller who makes the fewest amount of mistakes.

Both the Panthers and 49ers have defenses ranked in the top 10. It will be important for Kaepernick and Newton to resist the urge to force the situation with their arms. They must be opportunistic with their legs and, first and foremost, protect the football.

Because Kaepernick will be surrounded with more experienced teammates and coaches, he has the edge. Almost every key player and head coach Jim Harbaugh have been with the team the last two years.

The Niners advanced to the NFC title game in 2012 and played in the Super Bowl in 2013. This is the first time most every Panthers player—including Newton—has been to the postseason.

Kaepernick has already proven his ability to perform on the road in the playoffs. The 49ers' Twitter account points one of the distinctions for Kaepernick's young career.

In crunch time, the cracks in the Panthers' armor will show, and Kaepernick will get more support than Newton. The Niners will move on to the conference title game.

 

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

2013 Meeting: Denver won 28-20 in Week 10, San Diego won 27-20 in Week 15

Philip Rivers vs. Peyton Manning

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 05:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers throws a pass before the NFL wild card playoffs game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on January 5, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Manning is going to win the statistical battle because of the way the two offenses are structured. The Chargers have a strong commitment to the run and controlling time of possession. The Broncos are the highest-scoring team in NFL history behind Manning's record-setting arm.

Rivers simply won't get the opportunities to put up Manning-like passing numbers. That said, it doesn't mean the Chargers won't win and that Rivers can't outplay the all-time great.

In the Chargers' Week 15 win, Rivers' 166-yard, two-touchdown performance drew a higher QB rating than Manning's 289-yard, two-touchdown, one-interception outing.

For Rivers, it's about efficiency and converting on crucial third downs to extend drives and keep Manning and the Broncos offense off the field. 

Rivers understands and embraces the big picture. He and the Chargers have the formula to upset the Broncos again.

 

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