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#StanfordNFL: Divisional Round –

Sherman v. Jones highlights weekend slate

#StanfordNFL: Divisional Round

Seahawks at Falcons
Seattle and Atlanta run it back in the NFC Divisional round after a dramatic 26-24 tilt in favor of the Seahawks in Week 6. The marquee matchup will undoubtedly be Richard Sherman covering Julio Jones –in Week 6, Matt Ryan completed three passes to Jones with Sherman covering him for 40 yards and an interception, compared to four catches for 99 yards and a touchdown without Sherman’s coverage. Atlanta will have its hands full with Doug Baldwin, who led Seattle in targets (12), receptions (11) and receiving yards (104) in last weekend’s 26-6 win against Detroit, earning the highest grade (85.2) on the Seahawks’ offense from Pro Football Focus.

On the other side of the ball, Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper helped Atlanta achieve the highest run-blocking grade of any team in the regular season, per PFF. They will be tested against Seattle’s outstanding defensive front, which PFF ranks as the league’s best run defending unit. Hooper, who missed the last two games of the regular season with a knee injury, was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and will play on Saturday.

Texans at Patriots
Three former Cardinal — Brennan Scarlett, Cameron Fleming and Jordan Richards – are expected to appear in the AFC Divisional round when Houston travels to New England on Saturday. Scarlett recovered from a knee injury in time to make the postseason roster, and could see significant snaps on defense, depending on the health of Texans’ linebacker John Simon.

Patriots strong safety Jordan Richards, a mainstay on New England’s notoriously stout special teams, is expected to play after missing Weeks 13-15 and 17 with an injury. Cameron Fleming, who plays a role in New England’s ‘jumbo’ formations on offense, will likely see offensive snaps for running downs only.

Steelers at Chiefs
David DeCastro and Pittsburgh’s strong ground game travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs’ porous run defense, which ranked 25th in the league during the regular season, according to PFF. Last week against Miami, DeCastro (78.0) earned the Steeler offense’s third-highest PFF grade, helping Le’Veon Bell rush for a playoff franchise-record 167 yards on 29 carries (5.7 average). DeCastro, a unanimous All-American during his time on The Farm, recently garnered All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the second season in a row. 

Packers at Cowboys
Green Bay and Dallas face off in a rematch of Week 6, which the Cowboys won, 30-16. Blake Martinez and Green Bay’s fifth-ranked run defense will have its hands full against the Dallas offensive line, which ranks fourth in the NFL in run blocking, according to PFF.

Dallas native Ty Montgomery will play in his home state of Texas for the first time in his NFL career. Over the course of the season, Montgomery has gone from a kick return specialist with limited snaps at receiver to Green Bay’s lead tailback. During the Packers’ current seven-game win streak, Montgomery has 60 carries for 339 yards and 19 catches for 149 yards with three rushing touchdowns. Both Martinez and Montgomery fought injuries in the Wild Card round, but are expected to suit up on Sunday, according to head coach Mike McCarthy. 

Kyle Murphy, a fifth-round pick by the Packers in the 2016 NFL Draft, was inactive for Green Bay’s 38-13 win against the New York Giants last weekend.

Divisional Round Schedule

Date Time (PT)/TV Network Matchup
Saturday, Jan. 14 1:35 p.m./FOX Seahawks (Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman) at Falcons (Austin Hooper, LeVine Toilolo)
Saturday, Jan. 14 5:15 p.m./CBS Texans (Brennan Scarlett) at Patriots (Cameron Fleming, Jordan Richards)
Sunday, Jan. 15 1:40 p.m./FOX Packers (Blake Martinez, Ty Montgomery, Kyle Murphy) at Cowboys
Sunday, Jan. 15 5:20 p.m./NBC Steelers (David DeCastro) at Chiefs