Coming off a Wild Card win over RG3 and the Washington Redskins, rookie signal caller Russell Wilson arrives in Atlanta as the quarterback without anything to prove. Despite his impressive regular-season career win total, it's Matt Ryan who finds himself in a pressure-packed spot.
The Atlanta Falcons (13-3) are 0-3 in the postseason during Ryan's five seasons while Wilson is 1 for 1 in his playoff career. If Ryan and the Falcons are to finally translate their regular-season success into a postseason win then they'll need to overcome a defense that might be custom built to slow them down. With a pair of stellar cornerbacks, the Seattle Seahawks (12-5) have the personnel to at least hope to contain Atlanta's standout wide receivers, Roddy White and Julio Jones.
"I expect our guys to try to play like they always play. They don't need to change anything because we're not doing anything different, we're going to try and hang with them, and we'll find out what happens," Seattle coach Pete Carroll told The Associated Press ahead of this matchup. "This is probably the best pair and pair that you could match up, and because of the size, and because of their physical nature in the way that they play, it's going to be really exciting to see."
If the Seahawks can limit the Falcons' passing game then Ryan's playoff winless streak could continue, as his team's running game ranked 29th in the league during the season. On the other side of the ball, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has once again proven one of the hardest runners to bring down. With "Beast Mode" in full effect, the Seahawks' rushing offense ranked third in the NFL.
Will Ryan be able to connect with White and Jones enough to limit Lynch's impact on the game? Or will the red-hot Seahawks keep on rolling to the NFC Championship Game?
In the final game of the NFL Divisional Round, the Houston Texans travel to Foxboro in hopes of avenging a dispiriting Week 14 loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots. New England dominated the Texans in that game, even after J.J. Watt and company had hyped up the matchup. Will they be able to turn the tables this time?
STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT BOTH GAMES:
01/13/2013 7:56 PM EST
01/13/2013 7:55 PM EST
It's a rematch as the Patriots advance to the AFC Championship to face the Ravens.
01/13/2013 7:55 PM EST
Working The Middle
Texans moving up the field as the time ticks away. They've got 17 seconds left and it's likely hail mary time.
01/13/2013 7:54 PM EST
The Texans offense retakes the field, Schaub throws incomplete to Casey on first down. Clock stops at 1:04.
01/13/2013 7:51 PM EST
Patriots add three more points, lead 41-28 with 1:14 to play.
01/13/2013 7:50 PM EST
Taking A Knee
Tom Brady kneels, clock runs. It's 4th and 12 upcoming. NE timeout and here comes FG try.
01/13/2013 7:49 PM EST
@ ESPNStatsInfo :
Rob Gronkowski done for season after breaking arm; he has 41 career TD in 48 games (combining regular season and postseason.
01/13/2013 7:48 PM EST
@ WEEI :
#Patriots stat line: Brady - 25/40, 344 yards, 3 TDs. Ridley - 15 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD. Welker - eight catches, 131 yards.
01/13/2013 7:47 PM EST
Pats hold the ball, the lead with two minutes to play and will hold the AFC Championship Game at Foxboro next weekend.
01/13/2013 7:46 PM EST
@ jeffpearlman :
Smells like Pats-49ers Super Bowl