Di­vi­sional round has fa­mil­iar feel to it

Four re­matches on tap

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK — The di­vi­sional round of the NFL play­offs has a fa­mil­iar feel.

All four of the matchups this week­end are re­matches of reg­u­lar-sea­son games from this sea­son. And Satur­day’s games fea­ture coaches go­ing against their for­mer teams.

At­lanta coach Dan Quinn spent four sea­sons with Seat­tle, in­clud­ing the 2013 and ‘14 sea­sons as the team’s de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

The Sea­hawks ad­vanced to the Su­per Bowl in both sea­sons, in­clud­ing win­ning it to cap the 2013 sea­son. Quinn got the bet­ter of Pete Car­roll and the Sea­hawks with a 26-24 win at Cen­tu­ryLink Field in Week 6.

And, Hous­ton’s Bill O’Brien was on Bill Belichick’s staff in Foxbor­ough from 2007-11. O’Brien is look­ing for a bet­ter re­sult on Satur­day night af­ter his Tex­ans were dom­i­nated 27-0 in Septem­ber.

The Steel­ers and Pack­ers both en­ter Sun­day’s games as two of the hottest teams in the NFL. Pitts­burgh will en­ter its matchup at Kansas City on an eight-game win­ning streak. The Steel­ers routed the Chiefs 43-14 in Week 4.

And Green Bay will travel to Dal­las on a seven-game surge as it tries to knock off the top-seeded Cow­boys and get even for a 30-16 loss at Lam­beau Field in Week 6.

Seat­tle (11-5-1) at At­lanta (11-5), Satur­day at 11:35 a.m. HST (Fox)

This will be the se­cond post­sea­son meet­ing be­tween the teams. Both were in the di­vi­sional play­offs, and both at the Ge­or­gia Dome.

Four years ago, Seat­tle fell be­hind 20-0 be­fore Rus­sell Wil­son led his team on three fourth-quar­ter touch­down drives to take a 28-27 lead with 31 sec­onds left. How­ever, the Fal­cons com­pleted two long pass plays and Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal in a 30-28 win.

“It’s one of those games,” Car­roll said Tues­day of the loss in Jan­uary 2013. “It’s one of those games you store away, but it doesn’t have any­thing to do with what’s go­ing on now.”

That game was a rare post­sea­son loss for Wil­son, who is 8-3 in his ca­reer in the play­offs.

At­lanta has lost five of its past six play­off games. An At­lanta loss would end the Fal­cons’ 25-year stay in the Ge­or­gia Dome. Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium is sched­uled to open next sea­son.

Hous­ton (10-7) at New Eng­land (14-2), Satur­day at 3:15 p.m. (CBS)

The Pa­tri­ots are more than a two-touch­down fa­vorite. And with good rea­son.

New Eng­land has won seven

of the eight meet­ings over­all.

The Pa­tri­ots are 4-0 at Foxbor­ough against Hous­ton, outscor­ing the Tex­ans a com­bined 150-49. And that in­cludes a 27-0 rout in Week 3 with Ja­coby Bris­sett was at quar­ter­back be­cause Tom Brady was serv­ing his four-game sus­pen­sion.

Brady has 22 play­off wins, the most in NFL his­tory. Brady is also the NFL post­sea­son leader in com­ple­tions (738), at­tempts (1,183), pass­ing yards (7,957) and touch­down passes (56).

And Belichick has 23 post­sea­son wins, most all time.

Hous­ton’s best hope is for de­fen­sive end Jade­veon Clowney to get con­sis­tent pres­sure on Brady. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft was a big rea­son why the Tex­ans dom­i­nated the Raiders in the wild­card round. He had an ac­ro­batic in­ter­cep­tion to set up a touch­down in the 27-14 win.

“That kind of boosts us up a lit­tle (like), OK we gonna show them,” Clowney said ear­lier this week of be­ing a big un­der­dog.

“One of the men­tal­i­ties this week go­ing into this game is we’re the un­der­dogs, al­ways been un­der­dogs all sea­son — let’s go out there and prove to them why we’re here in this se­cond round now.”

Green Bay (11-6) at Dal­las (13-3), Sun­day at 11:40 a.m. (Fox)

This is the eighth post­sea­son meet­ing be­tween the teams, which in­cludes such mem­o­rable matchups as the “Ice Bowl” in 1967.

And the Pack­ers and Cow­boys are tied with the Gi­ants for the most play­off ap­pear­ances at 32.

Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy has nine play­off wins, tied with Vince Lom­bardi and Mike Holm­gren for the most in club his­tory.

The Cow­boys, who have four straight losses in the di­vi­sional round, are look­ing for their first NFC cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ance since the 1995 sea­son.

Dak Prescott will be the first rookie QB to start a play­off game for Cow­boys.

Since win­ning the Su­per Bowl af­ter the 2010 sea­son, Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers has not won back-to-back play­off games.

Pack­ers re­ceiver Jordy Nel­son, who had an NFL-high 14 touch­down catches in the reg­u­lar sea­son, will miss the game be­cause of in­jured ribs.

“We’re a dif­fer­ent of­fense, though,” Rodgers said ear­lier in the week about his team’s of­fen­sive op­tions.

“We’re do­ing a lot of dif­fer­ent things than we were last year, a lot of things bet­ter. I think our of­fen­sive line is play­ing bet­ter. Our scheme has ad­vanced, and we’re get­ting more con­tri­bu­tions from the tight end at this point.

“Da­vante (Adams) is a le­git re­ceiver in this league, and ob­vi­ously Ran­dall Cobb, who is es­tab­lished as well,” he said.

Pitts­burgh (125) at Kansas City (12-4), Sun­day at 3:20 p.m. (NBC)

The game was moved back be­cause of a po­ten­tial ice storm due to hit the Kansas City area this week­end.

The Steel­ers beat the Dol­phins 30-12 in the wild-card round for their NFL-record 35th post­sea­son win.

Ben Roeth­lis­berger had five touch­down passes in Pitts­burgh’s pre­vi­ous meet­ing against the Chiefs.

“They are a very ag­gres­sive de­fense,” Roeth­lis­berger said. “We were able to uti­lize some of that the first time we played them. But like I said, we throw that out the win­dow. They may be more con­ser­va­tive. They may just play their game.”

The pre­vi­ous time the Chiefs hosted a play­off game was in Jan­uary 2011. Their coach for that game was Todd Ha­ley, now the Steel­ers’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

The Chiefs have lost four straight home play­off games, three in the di­vi­sional round.

The Chiefs beat the Steel­ers 27-24 in the wild-card round on Jan. 8, 1994. Joe Mon­tana was the quar­ter­back for the Chiefs, who have not won a home play­off game since.

In fact, the Chiefs have only won two play­off games at home in their his­tory, even though they were a found­ing mem­ber of the old AFL. The other came against the then Los Angeles Raiders in 1991, also in the wild-card round.

LA Charg­ers hire Lynn

LOS ANGELES -- The Charg­ers hired An­thony Lynn as their head coach Fri­day night, one day af­ter an­nounc­ing their re­lo­ca­tion to Los Angeles.

The 48-year-old Lynn is a re­spected vet­eran as­sis­tant who spent the last two sea­sons with the Buf­falo Bills. He moved up dur­ing this sea­son from run­ning backs coach to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor to in­terim head coach, pre­sid­ing over the Bills’ fi­nal game af­ter Rex Ryan was fired.

Lynn be­comes the first black coach in fran­chise his­tory.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.