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Match-ups to Watch for in NFL Divisional Playoffs

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs is two games away from the Super Bowl and eight teams remain from the AFC and NFC.

Baltimore at Denver, Saturday, 4:30 ET at Sports Authority Field, CBS-TV

In Week 15, Denver handily beat Baltimore, 34 to 17 and their offense was clicking on all cylinders that week. The Broncos beat the Ravens with a balanced attack as Peyton Manning threw for 204 yards and a score, and Knowshon Moreno ran for 115 yards and a score.

The match-up to watch for is the Ravens secondary vs. Peyton Manning. Ladarius Webb is out for the season and the Ravens give up 228.1 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Broncos averaged 283.4 passing yards per game.

The Ravens are winless in their last nine games against Peyton Manning, and it won’t get any easier when they take on Manning again on Saturday on the road.

Green Bay at San Francisco, Saturday, 8 ET at Candlestick Park, FOX-TV

Green Bay and San Francisco met in Week 1 at Lambeau and the Packers fell 30-22. This time the 49ers have a different quarterback, and Colin Kaepernick has no playoff experience, but their run game and defense are just as strong.

The match-up to watch is the 49ers defense vs. Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is going back to California, and as a little kid, he was a 49ers fan, but the 49ers passed on him in the 2005 draft.

Rodgers has thrown for 11 touchdowns and no picks in his last four games, and is 3-1 on the road.

Meanwhile, the 49ers have a great pass rush, but Justin Smith is nursing an injury. Smith will try to play on Saturday night by wearing a brace on arm. Smith back in the game will help take pressure off Aldon Smith to put pressure on Rodgers.

Seattle at Atlanta, Sunday, 1 ET, Georgia Dome, FOX-TV

Atlanta was the best team in the NFC, but Seattle may the NFC’s hottest team. Russel Wilson led the Seahawks back last week from a 14-0 deficit to beat the Washington Redskins on the road.

Match-up to watch is the Seattle defense vs. the Atlanta offense. Seattle has a top ten defense, allowing 203.1 passing yards per game (sixth in the NFL), and 103.1 rushing yards per game (tenth in the NFL).

Meanwhile, Atlanta has a weapons on the offensive side of ball. Matt Ryan has trio of wideouts the Seattle defense will have to stop. Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will have a big task to stop Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons average 281.8 passing yards per game (sixth in the NFL).

Houston at New England, Sunday, 4:30 ET, Gillete Stadium, CBS-Tv

The Patriots handled Houston earlier this year on Monday Night Football, 42 to 14 and couldn’t stop Tom Brady. Brady threw for four touchdowns in the route.

The biggest match-up is can Houston get pressure on Brady and can Houston develop a running game with Arian Foster to keep Brady off the field?

Brady was sacked once by Houston and was one reason why he dominated the Texans, and put the Texans in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

A big reason why Houston lost against New England earlier in the year is they couldn’t establish a run game with Arian Foster because they had to pass a lot, and often. Foster only ran 15 times for 46 yards on a average of 3.1 yards per carry.

The Divisional playoffs should provide plenty of drama and excitement for teams and fans as the chase for the Lombardi Trophy gets closer.

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