The Seahawks were a dominant 8-0 at home in the regular season but only 3-5 on the road. They must win three road games in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. One down. They showed in their 24-14 victory at Washington why those regular-season trends might not matter. One, the Seahawks are the conference's hottest team entering the postseason. And two, their defense allows only 15 points a game, meaning they have the ability to offset loud road crowd. Michael Robinson (pictured) and his teammates were able to quiet the Redskins faithful even after spotting Washington a two-touchdown lead. Next up: Atlanta.
How good is Vikings running back Adrian Peterson? The Packers were ecstatic to hold him to 99 yards in their 24-10 wild-card victory Saturday. Never mind that 99 yards is a lot in one game. Average that, and you run for 1,584 in a season. Of course, Peterson went for a near-record 2,097 this season despite tearing up his left knee in the previous season's finale. Peterson (pictured, No. 28) nearly hit triple figures at Lambeau Field even though the Packers were able to key on him with backup quarterback Joe Webb playing and the passing threat nearly non-existent. Peterson didn't get as far as Broncos QB Peyton Manning in the playoffs, and he might fall short to Manning in the MVP voting, but the mere presence of the Vikings in the postseason is a direct result of the year Peterson had.
The Green Bay Packers' stretch of two games in two weeks against Jared Allen (No. 69) and the Vikings' pass rush should serve them well next week against the 49ers, who can really bring it. Also serving the Packers well is the fact quarterback Aaron Rodgers (No. 12) has all his top receivers back in action. Rodgers hit 10 different receivers Saturday as the Packers rolled 24-10. That's a huge number in a regular-season blowout; it's nearly unheard of in the playoffs. A field full of potential "hot" receivers is Rodgers' best chance to counter the Niners' potent pass rush.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (pictured) is a fine running back, with two 1,000 yard seasons in the past three years. But he gets his yards the hard way, between the tackles in a lot of 3- and 4-yard chunks. That's great when the offensive line is clicking and you're playing ball control, but it's iffy if you're facing third-and-6 a bit too often. The Bengals have plenty of talent at receiver and tight end, but they are in desperate need of a mix-it-up back like Darren Sproles who could offer quarterback Andy Dalton an outlet on those key third downs. The Bengals played hard in their 19-13 loss at Houston on Saturday, but they were 0-for-9 on third-down conversion attempts. The running game wasn't clicking, so the Texans could clog the passing lanes and/or double Dalton's favorite targets. Cincinnati had only 43 catches out of the backfield this season. That number must rise in order for the Bengals to keep more drives alive.
In beating the Bengals 19-13 on Saturday, the Texans got away with one. Yes, they played well — 140 yards rushing from Arian Foster, an efficient performance from quarterback Matt Schaub (pictured), the usual line dominance from defensive end J.J. Watt. But Houston settled for four field goals and one touchdown. Three of those 3-pointers were from less than 30 yards. Teams that settle for field goals consistently usually don't win playoff games. The Texans simply must punch home more red-zone opportunities if they are to have any chance against Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense next week.
In 2008, the Miami Dolphins made a remarkable leap from a one-win season to 11 wins and a playoff appearance. They haven't had a winning season since. Don't expect the Indianapolis Colts to be a similar one-hit wonder, however. Indy, which jumped from two wins to 11, has something those Dolphins didn't — a stud quarterback. Rookie Andrew Luck threw for 288 yards as the Colts ran up 419 yards against the Ravens. On the road. With Ray Lewis back for Baltimore. Yeah, Indy lost 24-9. The guess here is that won't be Luck's last crack at a playoff win.
The bulk of the attention in Baltimore on Sunday was on linebacker Ray Lewis, and why not? The 12-time Pro Bowl pick was playing the final home game of his 17-year NFL career and coming back from a torn triceps. He earned his plaudits with 13 tackles in the Ravens' 24-9 victory over Indianapolis. But how about that other Ray? Running back Ray Rice broke the Colts' spirits by setting up a key touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Tied 3-3, the Colts had reason to think upset until Rice (pictured, No. 27) shed off his blocking duties to take an inside dump pass from Joe Flacco and turn it into a 47-yard catch-and-run to the 2-yard line. Baltimore punched it in for a 10-3 advantage, and it led the rest of the way. It wasn't quite as dramatic as Rice's fourth-and-29 conversion against San Diego a few weeks back, but it again showed Rice has to be accounted for in any key situation.
The Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III knew they were taking a risk by playing before he recovered fully from a knee injury suffered Dec. 9. That risk paid off in a playoff-clinching victory last week against Dallas. On Sunday, it resulted in the sight of Griffin crumbling to the ground after the knee buckled as he reached for a loose ball. The Seahawks held Griffin to 84 yards passing before the fourth-quarter injury en route to a 24-14 victory. Redskins fans might remember that image of Griffin long after they've forgotten the final score.