It’s the NFL playoffs, so if you’re a hardcore football fan there’s no excuse for not watching every single game. Here are the four matchups (one from each game) that you should keep an eye on:
Cam Newton/Kelvin Benjamin vs Patrick Peterson: The Panthers are 7-8-1 coming into this game. Carolina will be hosting this game, and if they want to earn any respect as division champs they will have to defeat the Cardinals. The Cardinals offense won’t be hard to stop; however, getting past their defense can be a much larger problem. Cam Newton hasn’t had the best season, but he has showed up the past few games. Kelvin Benjamin has had a fantastic rookie season, but Patrick Peterson has yet to meet a wide receiver he can’t slow down. Newton will have to play well despite Benjamin being covered up on the majority of plays.
Joe Flacco vs the Steelers pass rush: Joe Flacco has had enough of a problem getting the offense going recently without any pressure. Well, now Flacco is stepping into Pittsburgh without his two starting tackles and being asked to do something. The Steelers know this and they’ll be coming full force. With the crowd to back them up, it’ll be interesting to see what Flacco can do to keep this game winnable. If Flacco can’t do anything, even with the defense playing well the Ravens will find themselves home next weekend.
Andy Dalton vs himself: It’s no secret that Andy Dalton sucks, but he sucks even more during the playoffs. In three playoff appearances, Dalton has one touchdown and six interceptions. The Cincinnati Bengals are definitely a better team than the Indianapolis Colts, but if Dalton doesn’t play well then it doesn’t matter. The Colts beat the Bengals 27-0 in Indianapolis earlier this season, and unless Dalton decides to play he will let his team down again. However, if he does play well the Bengals should have no problem winning their first playoff game since 1990.
DeMarco Murray vs Ndamukong Suh: This is the biggest matchup in the game. Tony Romo sucks, so don’t count on him to be able to tear up a strong Detroit Lions defense (unless Dez Bryant does all the work for him of course). Murray could determine whether or not the Dallas Cowboys see the next round. Suh on the other hand is ready to stop him. Murray or Suh? We’ll find out Sunday.