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AFC Divisional Playoff Preview

Previewing Baltimore at New England and Indianapolis at Denver



The New England Patriots are fresh off their first-round bye as the AFC's No. 1 seed and they will host the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs on Saturday afternoon.

Sneaking into the playoffs as the AFC's No. 6 seed, the Ravens defeated the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17 last Saturday to set the collision course between these two teams once again, as they will face the Patriots in the playoffs for the fourth time in the last six years.

The Patriots hold the second-best home postseason record in NFL history of 15-4, but the Ravens have two of those wins, which came back in 2009 and 2012.

While Patriots coach Bill Belichick is just one postseason win shy of tying Dallas Cowboys' Hall of Famer Tom Landry for the most postseason wins of all time, quarterback Tom Brady is also chasing down another impressive record to add to his resume.

Brady already holds the record for most postseason wins by a quarterback with 18, but he's just three touchdowns shy of passing Joe Montana for most postseason touchdown passes in NFL history.

For the Ravens, they also have some impressive postseason numbers.

Besides having seven road postseason wins, which is the most in league history, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has not thrown an interception in 166 consecutive attempts in the playoffs, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.

The winner will move on to the AFC Championship game and will face the winner of the Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos game.


The main storyline for this game couldn't be more obvious.

It's Peyton Manning against his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, in the playoffs for the first time since he joined the Broncos just two years ago.

Manning is 1-1 in the regular season against the Colts over the past two seasons, including a 31-24 win back in Week 1 of this season.

In that game, Manning connected with tight end Julius Thomas for three touchdowns, all of which came in the second quarter, helping the Broncos race out to a 24-7 first-half lead.

Despite a late comeback attempt from quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts, Manning picked up his first win against his former team.

Manning has 6,589 passing yards and nine 300-yard games in his postseason career, both first in NFL history.

Offensively, the Broncos have two receivers who finished in the top five in the NFL in receiving yards this season, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

Thomas finished the season No. 2 with 1,619 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns, while Emmanuel Sanders finished No. 5 in the NFL with 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns.

Defensively, the Colts cornerback who will be leading the charge of trying to slow down these Broncos receivers is Vontae Davis, who is primarily a right side player and their best defensive back. In the two meetings between these teams over the past two years, Davis has allowed just three catches for 12 yards while being targeted eight times.

For the Colts offensively, it's about Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton.

Luck threw for 376 yards in a 26-10 victory over Cincinnati last Sunday in the Wild Card matchup. He has now thrown for at least 300 yards in three consecutive playoff games, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history.

In that game last week, Hilton was targeted 15 times and finished with six receptions for 103 yards. He has 496 yards receiving in four career postseason games, second most of any NFL player in first four career playoff games.

Saturday, January 3 Sunday, January 4
CAROLINA 27, Arizona 16 INDIANAPOLIS 26, Cincinnati 10
Baltimore 30, PITTSBURGH 17 DALLAS 24, Detroit 20
Home teams capitalized

Saturday, January 10 Sunday, January 11
Baltimore at New England 3:35 PM (NBC) Dallas at Green Bay 12:05 PM (FOX)
Carolina at Seattle 7:15 PM (FOX) Indianapolis at Denver 3:40 PM (CBS)
All times listed in Central Standard Time

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