Previewing the NFL's Divisional Round Weekend

The schedule for the NFL's Divisional Round Weekend is set. Three of the four games feature rematches from earlier this season.

Here are three quick thoughts on each of the matchups:

Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET

  1. The Eagles have had one of the weakest home-field advantages in the NFL over the past two seasons. The Seahawks boast the strongest. It's one thing for the Saints to push Philadelphia around in their own house. It's quite another to expect the same at a raucous CenturyLink Field against a Seattle team infamous for its sheer physicality.
  1. When these two teams met in Week 13, the Seahawks' historically great pass defense harassed Drew Brees into his worst performance in a decade. Brees' postseason resume is tremendous, but it's a tall order to burn the Legion of Boom through the air.
  1. Percy Harvin looms as a wild card for an aerial attack coming off its least effective four-game stretch of the season. He was a full participant in Friday's practice. As long as there is no setback next week, he's a good bet to suit up for Seattle against Rob Ryan's defense.

Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET

  1. LeGarrette Blount was second only to Ryan Mathews in rushing yards over the final three games of the regular season. He's become the face of a Patriots team that has lost a handful of its best players to injuries.
  1. Andrew Luck won't feel sorry for the Pats over their injuries. Since the start of the season, he's lost his top running back (Ahmad Bradshaw), tight end (Dwayne Allen) and wide receiver (Reggie Wayne) to injured reserve. He still rolled up 45 points and 536 yards while growing his legend as the best young comeback artist the NFL has seen.
  1. There's no telling which Colts defense will show up. After holding their final three regular-season opponents to 10 points or less, they were steamrolled by an injury-depleted Chiefs offense during Wild Card Weekend. They will need more than strip-sack master Robert Mathis to win in New England.

Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET

  1. Don't expect a repeat of the Panthers' 10-9 victory in Week 10. Vernon Davis missed the majority of that game with a concussion. Top receiver Michael Crabtree had yet to play his first game of the season at that point. This is a different 49ers offense.
  1. After struggling to move the ball in Week 17, the underwhelming Panthers offense should get a shot in the arm with the expected returns of Steve Smith and Jonathan Stewart. Cam Newton isn't going to win this game by running quarterback draws on third-and-long.
  1. The Panthers sacked Colin Kaepernick six times and limited him to 16 rushing yards in the first matchup. The front seven will need another dominant performance to win. Finally over his knee injury, Charles Johnson teamed with Greg Hardy to generate five sacks and eight quarterback hurries in the regular-season finale. It was arguably the duo's finest performance of the season and a positive sign entering the postseason.

Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET

  1. The Chargers were nearly perfect in their execution and game plan when they pulled off a shocking Week 15 upset in Denver. With the two teams squaring off for the third time in two months, there will be no secrets this time around.

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Peyton Manning set new NFL single-season records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55). Was it the best performance for a quarterback in 2013?

  1. The Broncos offense has been held under 30 points in just three games. It's no coincidence that Denver's lowest point total of the season came against San Diego with Wes Welker out of the lineup. The preeminent slot receiver confirmed that he will be back on the field in the divisional round.
  1. The Chargers have found an identity with a precise, ball-control offense and a suddenly stingy defense. Philip Rivers' six first-half pass attempts Sunday tied a career low. With the Chiefs' second-string offense as the lone exception, John Pagano's defense has held five of its last six opponents to 20 points or less.

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