NFC, AFC Divisional Playoffs highlight weekend

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 10, 2014

This weekend’s slate of NFL Divisional Playoff games is looking up for hardcore football fans.

The divisional round kicks off tomorrow afternoon when the New Orleans Saints (11-5, 3-5 away) visit the powerful Seattle Seahawks (13-3, 7-1 at home) in the NFC Divisional Playoff.

For the night cap, the Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 5-3 away) visit the New England Patriots (12-4, 8-0 at home) in the AFC Divisional Playoff.

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers (12-4, 6-2 away) visit the surprising Carolina Panthers (12-4, 7-1 at home) in the NFC Divisional, while the San Diego Chargers (9-7, 4-4 away) visit the Denver Broncos (13-3, 7-1 at home) in the AFC Divisional.

Drew Brees and the Saints enter the divisional for the first time since 2011, when they lost to the 49ers.

Brees is having one heck of a season, going 446-for-650 for 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns in the air. His favorite target is tight end Jimmy Graham (86 receptions for 1,215 yards adn 16 TDs).

For Seattle, elusive and potent quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for 3,357 yards and 26 TDs.

Also leading a balanced attack on offense is Marshawn Lynch (301 carries, 1,257 yards and 12 TDs) and Golden Tate (64 receptions, 898 yards and five TDs).

The Seahawks will be facing a much-improved defense in the Saints. However, Seattle has shown it can play defense when it matters and will be well-rested after a bye week.

Colts rising star Andrew Luck (3,822 yards and 23 TDs) and T.Y. Hilton (1,083 yards and five TDs) will go against Tom Brady (4,343 yards and 25 TDs), Stevan Ridley (773 yards, seven TDs on the ground) and Julian Edelman (105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six TDs) and the Patriots.

The Patriots are the only divisional playoff team with an undefeated record at home. New England is favored by eight points in the game.

On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick (3,197 yards and 21 TDs) will go to a much warmer climate at Carolina to face Cam Newton (3,379 yards and 24 TDs) after a thrilling win over Green Bay last week.

Look for a good quarterback match up in this game as both are young and upcoming stars in the NFL.

Peyton Manning (5,477 yards and 55 TDs) should have an easy go of it against the Chargers and Philip Rivers (4,478 and 32 TDs).

Both teams are fairly balanced on the offensive side of the ball, so look for a high-scoring affair at Mile High Stadium.

The Saints-Seahawks kick off at 3:35 p.m. on FOX, while the Colts-Patriots start at 7:15 p.m. on CBS tomorrow.

The 49ers-Panthers kick off at 12:05 p.m. on FOX, and the Chargers-Broncos kick off at 3:40 p.m. on CBS on Sunday.