Last weekend, the National Football League held its divisional playoff round. In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the New Orleans Saints, and the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers. In the AFC, the New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts, and the Denver Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers. The NFC and AFC conference championship games will be played Sunday, January 19, with the winners of those two football games meeting in the Super Bowl on February 2. In the conference championships, the Seahawks will host the 49ers for the NFC championship, and in the AFC, the Broncos will host the Patriots.
One of the things that was striking about the divisional playoff round was the importance of the running game for the winning teams. For all the talk of the NFL being a passing league and the ground game no longer being important in professional football, you wouldn’t get that impression watching these playoffs. Of the four teams remaining, three of them – the 49ers, Seahawks, and Patriots – finished the regular season in the top ten for team rushing. The Broncos also have an above average running game which they use to complement their record-setting passing attack. Although they don’t have the kind of dominating running game that the 49ers, Seahawks, and Patriots are using, the importance of the Broncos rushing attack was evident in their playoff matchup against the Chargers, in which they ran the football almost twice as many times as the Chargers and held onto the ball for almost 11 minutes longer. That sort of thing makes a difference in a football game. I’m a big fan of power running attacks and am glad to see them reemerging after a couple of years of constant spread passing plays. The video below has some of the best highlights from last weekends divisional round, including some beastly power runs and the Patriots’ punter’s ill-advised hero attempt. Check it out below. If you like it, ‘Share’ it.