Last weekend’s AFC Wildcard showdowns were simply dripping with drama and intrigue. In one game, we were witnessing quite possibly the final game of one of the NFL’s most iconic players as one of the league's up-and-coming stars began his journey in his playoff debut. In the other game, a veteran quarterback was out with something to prove in his first shot at postseason glory while his counterpart was making his second playoff appearance in only two years of action and hoping for redemption. When it all happened, the action on the field was more incredible than the hype, and we have all of the NFL playoffs tickets you need to see the winning teams in the Divisional round games happening this weekend. Just in case you missed it, here’s a recap of last weekend’s games and a look to the exciting matchups that lay ahead.
No. 1 Denver Broncos vs. No. 4 Baltimore Ravens
When Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he was hanging up his shoulder pads at season’s end it signaled that Sunday would be his final home game at M&T Bank Stadium, and if you were there you certainly would have known it. The crowd absolutely erupted as Lewis performed his signature warm-up dance for the last time, and the men in purple battling alongside him made sure to play up to the standards that he has set over the years. The game also was the debut of the Indianapolis Colts sensational rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but this day belonged to Lewis and the Ravens as they defended their turf in a 24-9 victory over the Colts in Sunday’s AFC wild-card game.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco had a solid game, throwing for 282 and two touchdowns. And though one of those touchdowns was a game-clincher caught by standout wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who also hauled in a franchise playoff record 145 yards receiving, this game was all about Lewis. The surefire Hall of Famer valiantly played despite tearing his right triceps in October against the Dallas Cowboys, and with 17 remarkable seasons in Baltimore behind him, from here on out the story will be if he can lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl one more time. If that’s in the cards, he and the Ravens will have to put the brakes on a scorching Peyton Manning and the Broncos this weekend at Mile High Stadium.
In what has to be one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent history, Manning went from possibly never playing again, after undergoing neck surgery as a member of the Colts just a season ago, to leading the Broncos to an AFC West championship and emerging as the frontrunner for the 2012 MVP Award. The legendary quarterback emerged from the depths and threw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns on the season, backed by an entirely new set of receivers. What’s possibly even more impressive is the fact that the Broncos are currently riding an 11-game winning streak and were able to secure home field advantage and a first round bye, though Manning can definitely thank Von Miller, Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, and the rest of the defense for that.
In their meeting on December 16th in Baltimore, the Broncos defense helped Manning lead them to a 34-17 win. Certainly, this time around, Ray Lewis and the inspirational impact of his final season will make this one much closer on the scoreboard. The Ravens will need more from star RB Ray Rice and the Broncos will rely on their platoon of backs to offset a stellar passing game highlighted by Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Denver and Baltimore are set to kick off at Sports Authority Field at Mile High this Saturday, January 12 at 4:30 p.m. ET, and Vivid Seats has a vast assortment of Denver Broncos playoff tickets and Baltimore Ravens playoff tickets to get you in on the action, so visit our marketplace now to be at the game live.
No. 2 New England Patriots vs. No.3 Houston Texans
Before last Sunday, Houston Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub had never played in an NFL playoff game, but in a grimy, 19-13, win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card game, he showed that he was ready to lead the squad to the Promised Land. Reliant Stadium was certainly rocking as these two squads stepped up to face each other for the second consecutive year in the Wildcard round. Sadly for the Bengals (10-6), in similar fashion to last season, the Texans (13-4) sent Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and co. out fishing. The Bengals simply couldn’t get anything going on offense, and the Texans did just enough to seal the deal and move forward in the playoffs. Ugly or beautiful, a win is a win and one step closer to Super Bowl glory.
It was the usual combination of an outstanding rushing attack spearheaded by Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster, who ran for 140 yards and a touchdown, and a smothering defensive effort led by defensive end J.J. Watt, who recorded five solo tackles and a sack. The Texans’ defense was a beautiful sight for Houston fans who witnessed the team falter at the end of the regular season to lose three out of their last four games. And though the win earned Houston the right to fight another day, now they have to head to the bitter cold of Gillette Stadium and go toe-to-toe with the New England Patriots, who have shown the Texans a thing or two already this year.
At one point in the season, the Texans were sitting pretty at 11-1, and then they had to face Tom Brady and the Patriots on December 10th. The result was a monumental 42-14 thrashing, and you can be sure that every Texans’ player is hoping for Week 14 payback. By the second quarter the Pats had already stormed to a 28-0 lead, with Brady doing everything he wanted and Schaub unable to respond. This weekend New England will be even scarier, as they will be bolstered by the return of star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who's coming back from breaking his forearm in Week 14.
Pundits and fans have been predicting that one of these two squads would be in the Super Bowl all year, so this matchup will certainly prove many people wrong. As usual, if the Texans hope to win they’ll need their defense to come through, as well as high play from Schaub, Foster, and wide receiver Andre Johnson. For the Patriots, the usual will do as well, as they expect big things from Brady and his stock of marvelous receivers and tight ends. Kickoff for this barnburner is set for 5:30 p.m. ET, so get check out our New England Patriots playoff tickets and Houston Texans playoff tickets now to be at Gillette Stadium for what’s sure to be one of the standout games of the postseason.