Now that Wild Card Weekend has reached its conclusion, it's time to take a look ahead at the next stage of the 2016-17 NFL postseason.
A field that began with 12 teams has now been whittled down to eight. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers are moving on from the opening round to face the teams that spent the week on bye.
Today, we're going to take an in-depth look at the upcoming slate of postseason action. We'll examine the matchups, schedules and odds—courtesy of OddsShark.com. We'll also examine some of the top storylines coming out of Wild Card Weekend.
NFL Divisional Round
|Playoffs Round 2|
|Day, Time (ET)||Game||Line||National TV||Live Stream|
|Sat. 4:35 p.m.||Seattle at Atlanta||ATL -4.5||Fox||Fox Sports Live|
|Sat. 8:15 p.m.||Houston at New England||NE -16||CBS||CBS Sports Live|
|Sun. 1:05 p.m.||Pittsburgh at Kansas City||KC -1||NBC||NBC Sports Live|
|Sun. 4:40 p.m.||Green Bay at Dallas||DAL -4||Fox||Fox Sports Live|
Seattle is Getting Its Offensive Groove Back
The offense of the Seahawks was incredibly inconsistent throughout the regular season, especially on the road. A lack of a respectable rushing attack was a big part of the problem because it exposed a pass-blocking unit that is rated dead-last by Pro Football Focus for the year.
During the regular season, Seattle averaged just 99.4 yards rushing per game, 25th in the NFL.
This past Saturday, though, the Seahawks seemed to find the kind of ground-game dominance they enjoyed during their two recent runs to the Super Bowl. As a team, the Seahawks produced 177 yards rushing against the Detroit Lions. Running back Thomas Rawls produced 161 on those yards himself.
This helped keep the Detroit pass rush at bay and helped open up the secondary for quarterback Russell Wilson, who finished the game 23-of-30 for 224 yards and two scores.
"That was the game we've been looking for," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said, per Jeffri Chadiha of NFL.com. "I was really fired up to see us run the football like that. Obviously you guys all saw it—Thomas had a bunch of yards and the offensive line did a great job. It was a terrific night in Seahawks football."
This resurgent ground game helps Seattle a fighting chance against the Atlanta Falcons on the road next weekend.
The Falcons averaged an NFL-best 33.8 points per game in the regular season. The Seattle offense we saw during the regular season averaged just 15.8 points per game away from CenturyLink Field.
Roethlisberger Banged Up?
The Steelers made pretty easy work of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, rolling their Florida foes 30-12. This sets up Pittsburgh's explosive offense—rate eighth overall by Pro Football Focus—with a date against the Kansas City Chiefs' seventh-ranked scoring defense (19.4 points per game allowed).
Unfortunately, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might not quite be at 100 percent when he and the rest of the Steelers visit Arrowhead.
Roethlisberger, who passed for 197 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Dolphins, was spotted in a walking boot following the game. The quarterback suffered an ankle injury on his very last pass attempt of the game, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, :
Roethlisberger admitted that he isn't sure just how serious the injury is but insisted that he'll be on the field against the Chiefs.
"We will find out soon, hopefully," Roethlisberger said, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "You're always worried about being hurt, but I'll be out there next week."
I fully believe that Roethlisberger will suit up against the Chiefs. He only missed one game after suffering a torn meniscus in his last outing against Miami. The question here is whether or not Big Ben will have all of his mobility against the Chiefs.
As a team, the Chiefs are rated 12th in pass rush by Pro Football Focus for the regular season. It's worth noting, though, that Kansas City only had star pass-rusher Justin Houston on the field for five games of the year—and he produced 4.0 sacks in those five games.
Houston was held out late in the year because of swelling in his surgically repaired knee, but the general feeling is that Houston will be ready to go by next weekend.
If Roethlisberger is hampered by Sunday's injury, it could give a big advantage to the Chiefs pass rush next weekend.
Rodgers Continues Rolling
Roethlisberger wasn't the only big-name player to suffer an injury on Sunday. Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson left the game against the New York Giants with a rib injury and did not return.
Yet, Nelson's absence wasn't a significant issue for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who continues to play MVP-caliber football. Against a Giants defense that is rated fifth overall by Pro Football Focus, Rodgers went 25-of-40 for 362 yards and four touchdowns.
He was helped immensely by big outings from wideouts Devante Adams and Randall Cobb. The combination of Christine Michael and Ty Montgomery proved a serviceable, if underwhelming ground attack.
The Packers only totaled 75 yards on the ground, but they were effective enough (3.0 yards per carry) to prevent the Giants from fully focusing on the passing attack. The end result was 38-13 victory.
Green Bay becomes the only team during the 2016-17 season to rack up more than 30 points against the Giants defense.
The Packers would certainly like to have Nelson on the field next week against the Dallas Cowboys. Yet, his injury doesn't look like something that will stall Green Bay's playoff run right now—not with the way Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offense are playing.
As a team, the Cowboys allowed the seventh-most passing yards in the NFL during the regular season, an average of 260.4 per game. If Rodgers continues rolling, there's a very real chance the Packers earn themselves a spot in the NFC title game.