NFL 2015 Saturday Divisional Playoff Previews

January 10, 2015

With Wild Card Weekend now over, pro football's tournament is really taking shape, as only eight NFL teams remain with a shot to win the Super Bowl.

“You’ve got to play your biggest at the biggest moments against the best teams in the toughest conditions,” said New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.  “You’ve got to see what you’re made of. That’s what this tournament is all about.”

On Saturday, January 10, the New England Patriots (12-4), the AFC East champions and the conference’s No. 1 seed, will host the Baltimore Ravens (11-6) at Gillette Stadium to kick off the weekend (NBC, 4:35 PM ET). That night in primetime (FOX, 8:15 PM ET), the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (12-4), who won the NFC West and have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, will face the Carolina Panthers (8-8-1), who captured the NFC South, at CenturyLink Field.

Here is a look at Saturday’s Divisional Playoff games:


For the fourth time in the past six seasons, the Ravens and Patriots will meet in the playoffs. All three previous meetings have been at New England, yet the visiting Ravens have won two of those contests.

Baltimore defeated Pittsburgh last week 30-17, the team’s fifth consecutive postseason victory. Quarterback Joe Flacco has seven playoff road wins (7-4), the most in league history. Head coach John Harbaugh's seven postseason road wins (7-4) are tied for the most ever by a head coach with Tom Coughlin (7-4) and legendary Dallas Cowboys Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry (7-7).

“You have to play these games to win,” said Flacco, who with his fifth consecutive postseason game with a 100-plus passer rating tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman for the second-longest streak in NFL history. “We’re fighting for the big prize. You have to go out there and you let everything go. You can’t worry about the outcome.”

The Patriots have won six consecutive AFC East titles and have earned a first-round bye for the fifth season in a row. At 12-4, New England became the sixth team in NFL history to post at least 14 consecutive winning seasons and the first to do so since San Francisco (1983-98, 16 seasons).

Quarterback Tom Brady has 18 career postseason wins, the most in NFL history. Head coach Bill Belichick has 19 playoff victories and can tie Landry (20) for the most in league history.

“In the playoffs, it’s the same for everybody – one loss and you go home,” said Brady. “You try to play to your strengths and get ready to go so you can be at your best when you really need it the most. There’s only one team out of 32 that gets to win it each year. Hopefully you’re the one that gets the chance to do it. We’ve got a great football team here, so we’ll see. We’ve got to go out there and earn it.”


Carolina and Seattle will meet in the postseason for the second time. The Seahawks defeated the Panthers 34-14 on January 22, 2006, in the NFC Championship Game. The teams have met four times in the past five regular seasons with Seattle winning all four, including a 13-9 victory in Week 8 earlier this year.

Still, the Panthers are red hot.  Carolina last week defeated Arizona 27-16 in the Wild Card round, notching the team’s first postseason victory since January 15, 2006 (Divisional, versus Chicago).

Carolina, which has now won five consecutive games, limited the Cardinals to 78 total net yards, the fewest allowed in a postseason game in NFL history. During the team’s five-game winning streak, the Panthers have averaged 197.0 rushing yards per game (second in the NFL) and allowed 11.8 points per game (second) and 238.2 yards per game (second).

“Guys have come together and bought into what we are doing,” said Panthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who had a game-high 10 tackles and an interception in the Wild Card victory. “We took the first step and it’s an absolutely awesome feeling.”

The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks won the NFC West and secured home-field advantage for the second consecutive year. Over the past three seasons, including the playoffs, Seattle is 24-2 (.923) at home. The Seahawks enter the postseason having won six in a row and are the first team since 1976 (Pittsburgh) to win its final six games and allow fewer than 40 total points (39).

“We’re exactly where we want to be,” said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who is 40-13 (.755) as a starter (including the playoffs), including a 24-2 (.923) mark at home. “To be going into the playoffs, have a first-round bye and be the No. 1 team in the NFC, that’s what you want. Most importantly, we get to play at home again and in front of the best fans in the world. We’re high on confidence, like always. But we have to play great football, one game at a time.”


Baltimore Ravens 

T Eugene Monroe (ankle)

TE Owen Daniels (not injury related), DT Timmy Jernigan (ankle, foot), LB Daryl Smith (not injury related), LB Terrell Suggs (not injury related)

New England Patriots 

QB Tom Brady (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (concussion), RB Jonas Gray (ankle), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder, toe)

CAROLINA at SEATTLE - Injury Report

Carolina Panthers
DT Star Lotulelei (foot)

WR Corey Brown (shoulder), S Thomas DeCoud (hamstring), LB A.J. Klein (ankle), CB Melvin White (ankle)

Seattle Seahawks  

S Jeron Johnson (elbow)
TE Tony Moeaki (calf)

DE Michael Bennett (not injury related), DE Demarcus Dobbs (ankle), TE Cooper Helfet (ribs), WR Jermaine Kearse (hamstring), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), CB Byron Maxwell (illness), CB Tharold Simon (shoulder), C Max Unger (ankle, knee)

By Staff of and news services

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