The Washington Post

NFL playoffs: Five things to know about the next round

Andrew Luck was good Andrew and bad Andrew in one playoff game. What will he be in New England? (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Three of four NFL playoff games over the weekend put the wild in wild card, with four more — and more difficult — divisional-round games ahead Saturday and Sunday. There are five things to take forward from a weekend in which three games were decided by a total of six points:

1) Andrew Luck is a big-time player who can put his team in a seemingly chasmic hole, just the way Brett Favre could. Andrew Luck is also a big-game player who can dig his team out of a seemingly chasmic hole with a miracle play (or two), just the way Brett Favre could. The Colts might lose the divisional game or they might go to the Super Bowl. Who knows? They’ve started five wide receivers, five running backs and nine offensive linemen this season — and here they are. It would seem unlikely that they’ll get past Bill Belichick’s schemes this time, but consider this: of the seven skill players who touched the ball for the Colts on Saturday, only one is older than 25. This is the only game that isn’t a rematch from the regular season.

2) The New Orleans Saints defense, with Rob Ryan scheming, makes it dangerous to underestimate them, even on the road and even against a Seattle Seahawks team that thumped them 34-7 on Dec. 2. The Colts-Chiefs result aside, it’s extremely difficult to beat a team twice in the same season and, besides, the Seahawks went a rather mortal 3-2 over their last five games.

Rob Ryan and Sean Payton will try their luck again Seattle. (Joe Camporeale / USA Today)

3) Speaking of previous regular-season matchups, both the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers will be seeking to go 2-1 against the other. The Chargers may have gotten into the playoffs with the help of a blown call by refs, but they’re here and Philip Rivers and his bolo ties only grow stronger each week.

The Chargers are on a nice little roll; they’ve lost only once since Nov. 24 and beat the Broncos 27-20 in Denver just three weeks ago. The Broncos beat the Chargers 28-20 on Nov. 10 in San Diego.With each week, Rivers’ bolo grows bigger and bolder. What kind of string would a trip to the AFC Championship game bring?

4) Good luck figuring out who’s going to win this weekend. Three out of four wild-card teams won on the road. All four wild-card games were decided by a total of  13 points. With three of the four games featuring rematches from earlier this season, there’s a fair amount of vengeance involved here, too. “We owe ’em,” Colin Kaepernick said of the Carolina Panthers.

5) The Philadelphia Eagles have already determined the Super Bowl winner, if you believe in cosmic messages like”Kennedy was Lincoln’s secretary and Lincoln was Kennedy’s secretary.” The last four Super Bowl winners have faced the Eagles in their Lincoln Field opener each season. (That would be the Saints of 2009, the Packers of 2010, the Giants of 2011 and last season’s Ravens.) Who did the Eagles play in their home opener this season?

The Chargers.

(As if that weren’t enough, there may also be a Redskins Factor to consider. Washington has played the eventual Super Bowl winner each of the last seven years, with the Redskins winning the last three. The Redskins faced one playoff team this season and won 30-24. That team would be the Chargers of San Diego.)

H/T SB Nation for the GIF

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Cindy Boren · January 6, 2014