For the second consecutive season, the Atlanta Falcons have home-field advantage in the NFL Playoffs. The Falcons a hot New York Giants team last year, this time they host a red-hot Seattle Seahawks team.
The Seahawks enter the game having won six consecutive contests, including their wildcard matchup against the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks, behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and arguably the best defensive secondary in the NFL; are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. They employ a power-running game and physical defense.
Wilson is also getting some recognition as a quarterback who has the potential to become one of the elite players at his position.
As a third-round pick in this year’s draft, Wilson did not come with the same fanfare or acclaim as two of his fellow members of the draft class. Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck and Redskins signal caller, Robert Griffin III went No. 1 and 2 respectively. All three quarterbacks made the playoffs but only Wilson survived the first round. Now he (Wilson) has a shot at reaching the NFC Championship Game to face the San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers leads the San Francisco 49ers in the head-to-head matchups 6-1 since 2001.
On paper, the NFC Divisional matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers looks like one for the ages. Both teams can score and they boast aggressive defenses.
This is rematch from when the two teams met while kicking off the first week of the NFL season. The 49ers came out on top with a 30-22 win in Lambeau Field. Several observers believed that the matchup was a preview to the NFC Championship Game.
QB Aaron Rodgers was superb (303 passing yards) as always for the Packers, but it was the running game, or lack thereof, that doomed them.
The 49ers countered with a strong rushing attack of their own. RB Frank Gore led the way with 112 of the 49ers 186 yards on the ground.
The rematch will have a different twist to it. Despite winning with Alex Smith at QB, the 49ers have opted to go with second-year QB Colin Kaepernick under center. Kaepernick is a more mobile quarterback than Smith is. He can make plays with his feet as well as his arm. He will challenge the Packers defense in a way that Smith could not.
Tonight's game between the 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals and the 4-9 Philadelphia Eagles is one with many implications. One team (Bengals) has its eyes on the playoffs for a second consecutive season, while the other team (Eagles) is looking ahead at an uncertain offseason.
For the Bengals, a win tonight would firmly place them in the NFL playoff picture. Currently the Bengals are on the outside looking in for the sixth seed in the AFC. They are tied with their AFC North division rival Pittsburgh Steelers but they lost their only head-to-head meeting earlier this season.
A Bengals win tonight would put pressure on the Steelers to win their matchup this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Next week the Bengals travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in what could be for the last playoff spot.
The Bengals are fighting for their playoff hopes, but the Eagles will be fighting for their jobs.
Boxing takes the center stage this evening. The HBO PPV is live at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, 9:00 eastern time, when Manny Pacquiao (54-2-2) faces Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1). The fighters meet each for the fourth time after 36 epic rounds. Their last meeting on November 12, 2011 ended with a majority decision in favor of Pacquiao.
Many boxing observers believed that Marquez won the fight, despite scorecard totals of 114-114, 115-113 and 116-112. Pacquiao’s sluggish performance during the fight was the primary reason he should have lost to Marquez.
The previous two fights ended in a draw and a split decision victory for Pacquiao.
The buildup for Pacquiao-Marquez 4 has centered on the idea of neither fighter being better than his opponent. Pacquiao and Marquez are evenly matched boxers.
When the Chicago Bulls face the New York Knicks tonight at the United Center, they may or may not have to deal with Carmelo Anthony. Melo is a game-time decision for tonight’s game, after suffering from a laceration on his left middle finger.
With or without Melo in the lineup, the Knicks will face a tough task with the Bulls in town.
The Bulls are looking for their third consecutive win after defeating the Detroit Pistons 108-104 in Auburn Hills, Michigan last night. The Bulls were down by as many as 17 points in the second quarter before storming back.