Colin Kaepernick and Aaron Rodgers look to add another chapter to the Niners/Packers post season rivalry.
A wintry mix in Cincy and sub-zero wind chills in Green Bay could neutralize some off the offensive output in today’s games. The Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers won their regular season meetings against the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers, respectively.
Do the visitors from the West Coast have what it takes to survive the harsh conditions of playoff football in the East?
Saturday January 4, 2014:
Indianapolis Colts 45, Kansas City Chiefs 44 - The Indianapolis Colts became the second team in the modern era to win a postseason game after trailing by 28 or more points. Kansas City led 38-10 early in the third quarter only to be outscored 35-6 the rest of the way. The pivotal point of the game occurred when running back Donald Brown’s fumble ricocheted into the arms of Andrew Luck who lunged into the end zone from five yards out. Luck rebounded from three interceptions to pass for four touchdowns
The Chiefs lost leading rusher and receiver Jamaal Charles with a probable concussion, but still managed to score seemingly at will. The Colts didn’t help matters by turning the ball over four times. T.Y. Hilton hauled in 13 passes for 224 yards and two scores. The Chiefs end the season losing six of eight games after a 9-0 start.
|KANSAS CITY CHIEFS|
New Orleans Saints 26, Philadelphia Eagles 24 - Philadelphia’s improbable run to the playoffs ended when Shayne Graham — who was signed two weeks ago kicked a 32 yard field goal to send the Eagles into the off season. The Saints were unfazed by the below freezing conditions in Philly at game time. In fact, several Eagles who were playing in their first playoff game seemed a little rattled. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was pressured throughout the evening and Chip Kelly’s potent offense sputtered like a car that sat in the cold too long.
The Saints won their first postseason game outdoors since entering the league in 1967. Drew Brees wasn’t as electrifying on this day, but he received a major boost from running back Mark Ingram who rushed for 97 tough yards on 18 carries. New Orleans will travel to Seattle to face the top-seeded Seahawks next weekend in the NFL’s Divisional Round.
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS|
Sunday January 5, 2014 1:05 pm:
San Diego Chargers (9-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - Andy Dalton is faced with the pressure of leading the Bengals their first playoff victory in 23 years. Even if Dalton is less than stellar, rookie running back Giovani Bernard and a deep defensive unit should pull Cincinnati through. A.J. Green and Marvin Jones should fare well against a shaky San Diego secondary. Dalton has to be careful not to force the issue, but rely on his backs when receivers are covered.
The Chargers scraped and clawed their way into the playoffs by winning 5 of their last 6 games — the lone loss in that stretch was a 17-10 defeat to the Bengals in Week 13. San Diego is confident in Phillip Rivers (9-2) record in cold weather games. Running back Ryan Matthews can ill afford any miscues against an opportunistic Cincinnati defense. Outstanding rookie Keenan Allen (71 receptions, 1,046 yards, 8 touchdowns) will have his hands full against an aggressive Bengals secondary. Antonio Gates has to get his share of looks today to keep things within reach for the visitors.
|SAN DIEGO CHARGERS|
Prediction: Bengals 21 – Chargers 17
Sunday January 4, 2014 4:40 pm:
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) at Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - The Niners and Packers are meeting for the fourth time in sixteen months with the San Francisco winning the last three contests. The Packers come into the post season with a loss and a tie, but the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes Green Bay a team no one is eager to face. Running back Eddie Lacy carried the offense in Rodgers’ absence. Lacy and James Starks will need to get positive yardage if the passing game is shut down. Jordy Nelson and James Jones will have to be in formations that spread out the Niners secondary. Keep an eye on Eddie Lacy’s touches as he suffers from asthma. Green Bay’s defense is still a sieve without linebacker Clay Matthews and will have to do their best without him.
Colin Kaepernick has been less than dynamic this season, but he remains effective and very dangerous. The off-season trade for wide receiver Anquan Boldin was made for this moment. Boldin was the MVP of the entire postseason in 2012-13 and with a healthy Michael Crabtree on the other side, the Niners should be able to produce on short routes. Frank Gore could see 25 or more carries today. I believe the Niners are going to run heavy and try to wear the Packers defense down from the outset. Kaepernick could be in store for a big day as well. If the defense can shorten the production of Lacy and Starks, Rodgers dropping back in the cold will play into the Niners hands.
|SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS|
|GREEN BAY PACKERS|
Prediction: Niners 28 – Packers 23