The NFL Divisional Round Recap

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The NFL Divisional Round Playoffs kicked off this weekend, in what promised to be much more competitive contests than the open faced sloppy joes of the Wildcard Weekend. Here are my takeaways... 

Baltimore 38, Denver 35

We knew Baltimore wouldn't lay down to Peyton & Co. like submissive pups, but Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith absolutely clowned near shut down corner Champ Bailey in a surprising shoot out. The Broncos were helped greatly by Super Gnat Trindon Holliday's pair of special teams TDs (both kickoff and punt return), and the Ravens got away with some early calls that helped put them in scoring position. All of the zebra posturing aside, the Broncos famed pass rush was kept at bay by the Raven OL, and Peyton Manning appeared to lose velocity on his throws in the 2nd half (injured?). All of this lead to an improbable road victory for Joe Flacco, and another game on tap for Ray Lewis' storied career.

San Francisco 45 - Green Bay 31

It's hard to call the Niners underdogs, but like Joe Flacco vs. Peyton Manning, nobody gave Colin Kaepernick much of a chance. After an early INT to Sam Shields, Kaepernick showed his mettle by putting up a ridiculous 444 combined yards and 3 TDs on a seemingly overmatched Packer defense. Michael Crabtree continues to click with the young QB, and both will likely improve their ADP exponentially in 2013. The Niner defense played out of their minds, and managed to rattle the Aaron Rodgers led offense on way to a route. 

Atlanta 30 - Seattle 28 

Have to admit, I thought the Seattle defense had enough mustard left in the bottle (even without Clemons), to put away the Falcons. I was wrong...sort of. Atlanta took advantage of a Clemons-less front seven and ran with effeciency via Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Matt Ryan was fearless in the first half, challenging All-World CB Richard Sherman on a majority of throws. The Falcons had a soft cushiony lead going into the 2nd half, but squandered it away via two takeaways from the Seattle defense. Russell Wilson was actually the better fantasy play on the day, throwing for nearly 400 yards and three total TDs. Marshawn Lynch looked to be favoring his injured foot through most of the game, playing without his usual beast-like power. He did save his fantasy day in the 2nd half with some big runs and a late red zone TD. Despite a crazy finish, complete with a poor kickoff from Matt Bryant that put Seattle in a position to win the game with a last second Hail Mary pass that was ultimately picked off by Julio Jones, Atlanta held on to a 2-point win.
Atlanta will host the burgeoning Niners in Atlanta next week for the right to rep the NFC in the Super Bowl.

New England 41 Houston 28

Even though Dan Shaughnessy can't name five Texans, the "Tomato Can" curse reared it's ugly head. The Texans never got going in this one, mainly because Matt Schaub couldn't keep pace with the offense of New England. The Patriots unfortunately suffered a big loss, as Rob Gronkowski injured his surgically repaired forearm, and according to WEEI's Chris Price, will require surgery, thus ending Gronk's postseason. The bright side? The Pats still had solid games from Welker, Hernandez, Lloyd, Ridley and a breakout game from Shane Vereen ( who picked up for an injured Woodhead, who dinged up his thumb), who scored three TDs. The Pats defense made plays when they needed to, and did enough to keep Vegas degenerates happy as well, covering the spread. 
The Patriots host the Ravens next week, in a 2011 Championship Game rematch. 
That's it for this week, drink local, watch football and be well. Cheers!


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