NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Is Set, A Quick Look At The AFC Matchups


Thank God for that Cowboys-Lions game, because if it weren’t for that thriller, wild-card weekend would have been a complete dud. But, the good news is we are now on to the divisional round, which is definitely the best weekend in all of sports. The eight best teams in the NFL all going at it in a span of 24 hours? It doesn’t get any better than that, especially with the matchups that unfolded on the AFC side.

First, we get Patriots vs. Ravens for the fourth time in the postseason since 2009, and then we have Peyton Manning taking on young phenom Andrew Luck, and number 18’s former team. It couldn’t have worked out any better for the NFL, and if the Pats and Broncos advance, they will get a Brady-Manning AFC Championship rematch, which is ratings gold.

I already gave my initial thoughts on Pats-Ravens here, so please give that a read if you want an early preview of that colossal matchup. As for the other AFC tilt, I don’t want to go into a full-out preview, but since that game does have some ramifications for New England, it couldn’t hurt to dissect it a little bit.

Here are three quick thoughts on Manning vs. Luck:

1. Colts’ Defense Will Struggle

Yes, the Colts’ defense played very well yesterday against the Bengals, but shutting Peyton Manning and company down is a whole different story. With Denver’s ability to run the ball lately, I think Indy’s light front would struggle, and while Manning’s arm isn’t nearly as sharp as it used to be, having that play-action at his expense would help tremendously in the passing game.

2. Luck Needs Another Big Game

If Indianapolis wants to pull off the upset, they need Andrew Luck to play out of his mind. Luck is definitely the best young quarterback in the league, so he is certainly capable of putting together a mindblowing performance, but at the same time, he is also capable of throwing three picks and fumbling it once or twice as well. He needs to play a clean game, as if you give Peyton extra opportunities, you won’t be advancing.

3. T.Y. Hilton vs. Chris Harris/Aqib Talib

I am sick and tired of the hype surrounding Chris Harris lately, and I would love nothing more than to see T.Y. Hilton torch him in this game. I am not saying Harris is a bad corner, because he is not. In fact, he is an elite corner, who had an exceptional 2014-15 season. But he has not entered the Revis and Sherman realm yet, and for that matter, I don’t think he is as good as his teammate Aqib Talib yet, either. It will be fun to see Hilton go up against those two on Sunday, in what will undoubtedly be a matchup full of fireworks.