(Sporting Alert) — The road to the Super Bowl continues this weekend as the NFL Divisional Play-offs fixtures resumes on Saturday and Sunday.
Two games are down on Saturday, Jan. 10 in the AFC and NFC, with two more on the schedule for Sunday, Jan. 11.
At 4:35pm from the Gillette Stadium, and live on NBC, the Baltimore Ravens will face the New England Patriots, seeking to build on last week’s Wild-Card upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Patriots (12-4) have a very good home record this season, at 7-1, but the Ravens, who were 4-4 on the road this term, have vowed to come out and play, as they embrace the challenge of the divisional top seed.
The matchup will also see a battle between two of the leading quarterbacks, in Tom Brady and Joe Flacco, who has been hailed by his coach as “the best quarterback in football.”
Stats gurus have also outlined that the Ravens’ playmaker has 166 straight passes without an INT in the playoffs, which is the fourth longest streak. Flacco, who is coming off an impressive performance against the Steelers, has thrown for 3986 yards and 27 touchdowns this campaign.
Patriots’ Brady, who has the most playoff wins (18) in league history, enters the contest passing for 4109 yards and 33 touchdowns on the term.
Flacco also comes into the clash with very productive playoff figures — throwing 17 TDs with 1 INT in his last 7 playoff outing.
Besides the Brady vs. Flacco battle, it should also be interesting to see the matchup between the Ravens’ strong defense, led by Daryl Smith and Elvis Dumervil, against and New England’s offense.
It is notable that Brady and the Patriots are 1-2 in home playoff games against the Ravens since 2001 and have a PPG difference of -10.3, even though they are 11-1 against all other teams with a PPG of +13.4.
In the day’s other playoff game, Cam Newton will lead the Carolina Panthers against defending champions Seattle Seahawks, who are ready to play after their bye week.
Some of the best teams in league history have managed to build their success around strong defense and the Seahawks (12-4) are no different.
The champs are holding teams to just 15.9 points per game and allowing 267 total yards, but the Panthers, who were very solid last week in the Wild-Card win over the Arizona Cardinals, are also confident of stopping teams.
Carolina (8-8-1), who is on a four game winning streak, held Arizona to just 78 total yards in their last game, the fewest ever allowed in the playoffs — and Newton gave them the thumps up.
“When those guys play like that, it makes it easier on us on our part,” Newton said after last week’s game.
“Those guys did everything, turnovers, they stopped them. That is championship football right there and we’ve got to do our part offensively to put points up on the board.”
In the meantime, the playoff schedule for Sunday is just as exciting for fans to watch.
The fixtures open up with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts taking on Peyton Manning and the Denver Bronocs (12-4) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Luck led the Colts (11-5) to a 26-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoff round game a week ago, while Manning used his bye week to prepare for this battle against his former team.
Most of the focus will undoubtedly be on the two quarterbacks, but Luck believes there will be more to the battle than just the playmakers, who will never be on the field at the same time.
“It’s not the quarterback versus quarterback thing,” said Luck, who led the league with a career-high 40 touchdown passes. “We’re not on the field at the same time.
“I have a lot of respect for (Manning), what he does, what he still does is amazing.
“He’s a stud. I’ll worry about the Denver defense, that’s what I worry about.”
Indianapolis, according to reports, will be hoping to put pressure on Manning to continue making errors and perhaps force the Broncos into focusing more again on running the ball, rather than throwing it.
Manning has thrown 39 touchdowns passes this season, but has been struggling lately with turnovers, with 12 of his 15 total interceptions coming since Week 9.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys — coming off the controversial highlighted win over the Detroit Lions, will take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Divisional Playoffs Fixtures
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AFC: 4:35pm Baltimore at New England
NFC: 8:15pm Carolina at Seattle
Sunday January 11
NFC: 1:05pm Dallas at Green Bay
AFC: 4:40pm Indianapolis at Denver
Wild Card Weekend Results and Scores
Saturday January 3
NFC: Arizona 16-27 Carolina
AFC: Baltimore 30-17 Pittsburgh
Sunday January 4
AFC: Cincinnati 10-26 Indianapolis
NFC: Detroit 20-24 Dallas