Falcons 36, Seahawks 20
After Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Seahawks a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter of Saturday’s Division Round playoff game, Seattle never again threatened and the Atlanta Falcons earned a trip to the NFC Championship game with a relatively easy 36-20 victory. Falcons RB Tevin Coleman ran 11 times for 57 yards and caught three passes for 22 more and a touchdown as the NFL’s No. 1 offense erupted for 36 points after a scoreless first quarter.
The NFL’s leading passer, Matt Ryan, led the Falcons completing 26-of-37 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan, who was just 1-4 in playoff games before Saturday, shrugged off the criticism and looked like the league’s MVP with his performance. The win puts Atlanta into the conference title game for just the fourth time in the history of the Falcons franchise. It was Ryan’s second playoff win against Seattle.
It was over when Atlanta took over on their one-yard line and drove 99 yards for a score in the second quarter. The drive was capped by a Ryan to Tevin Coleman 14-yard TD pass. Atlanta went ahead 36-13 in the fourth quarter when Ryan hit WR Mohamed Sanu with a 3-yard touchdown pass with just 3:40 to play. With the ball at the Seattle two-yard line with less than two minutes to play, the Falcons took a knee or the score could have been even worse.
With the Packers upset of Dallas, the Georgia Dome gets one more Falcons game. Atlanta will move to Mercedes Benz Stadium beginning next season.
Match pick result – Bing and Cortana predicted Falcons to win with 73% chance – correct
Patriots 34, Texans 16
Saturday was the perfect day for RB Dion Lewis to have himself a day. The diminutive Lewis (5-foot-8) scored three touchdowns to lead New England to its sixth consecutive AFC Championship game. Lewis became the first player in Super Bowl-era history to score touchdowns in one game on a run, pass reception, and a kick return. Lewis opened the scoring with a 13-yard reception from QB Tom Brady, returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score, and capped his night with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots defense was its usual stingy self giving up just 285 total yards. New England got after Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler forcing him to throw three interceptions and sacking him three times. Osweiler completed 23-of-40 passes for 198 yards and he threw one touchdown. Texans RB Lamar Miller managed 73 yards on 19 carries, but the Houston defense just couldn’t stop New England in the second half. Houston managed just a field goal after halftime.
Brady, who threw two interceptions all regular season, did throw two picks against the Texans and should have given up another if it wouldn’t have been dropped by a Houston defender. Even not at the top of their game, the Patriots managed 377 total yards and were consistent enough both on offense and defense to advance to the AFC title game next week. The win marked the 24th postseason win for New England head coach Bill Belichick.
Match Pick result – Cortana and Bing picked Patriots to win with 83% chance – Correct
Packers 34, Cowboys 31
If there is anyone better at the Hail Mary, even if it’s not a full one, it is Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The MVP candidate did it again as he looked far downfield with just seconds remaining in the NFC Divisional Round playoff on Sunday. Rodgers settled for a shorter throw to Jared Cook who drug his feet near the sideline around the Dallas 34-yard line. Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers the victory that sends them to Atlanta for next week’s NFC Championship game against the Falcons.
Green Bay appeared as if they might run away with the game as they grabbed a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Two long drives were capped by Ty Montgomery touchdown runs before the Cowboys, who went 14-2 in the regular season, scored 10 straight points to end the first half. Two Dak Prescott touchdown passes – to Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – and a Prescott two-point conversion run tied the game at 28-28 with 4:08 to play.
Crosby would hit what looked to be like a game-winner with 1:33 remaining in the game when he connected on a 56-yard field goal. Dallas would get the ball back and drive 42 yards in 58 seconds capped by a Dan Bailey 52-yard field goal. Rodgers and Green Bay would answer one more time. Rodgers would complete the 36-yard pass to Cook to set up Crosby’s game-winning field goal. Crosby actually connected twice from 51 yards. Prior to the game-winner, he had made the 51-yarder but the Cowboys had called timeout.
Green Bay will travel to Atlanta next week for the NFC title game. The victory was the Packers eighth straight win.
Match Prediction result – Bing and Cortana predicted Cowboys to win with 51% chance – Incorrect
Steelers 18, Chiefs 16
Even with an offense that couldn’t find the end zone, the Pittsburgh Steelers grounded and pounded their way to an 18-16 win over Kansas City to earn a trip to the AFC Championship game. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell hit an NFL postseason record six field goals and the Pittsburgh defense got a late stop on a two-point conversion to hang on for a victory.
Pittsburgh’s defense contained the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and held Kansas City to just 227 total yards. The Steelers offense, led by the Big Three, moved up and down the field controlling the ball for over 34 minutes. Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards. Antonio Brown had six catches for 104 yards and RB Le’Veon Bell carried the ball 30 times for 170. When the Steelers offense sputtered in the red zone, it was Boswell who hit field goals of 22, 38, 36, 45, 43, and 43 yards. Pittsburgh totaled 389 yards of offense on the night.
Hill, the Chiefs dynamic rookie, was a non-factor. He rushed just three times for 18 yards, caught four passes for 27 more, and returned for kicks averaging 18 yards per return. Pittsburgh held Kansas City to just 61 yards rushing for the game. The Steelers have now won nine games in a row and will travel to New England next Sunday for the AFC title game. The two teams have met twice for the conference championship. The Patriots won both games.
Match prediction result – Cortana and Bing predicted Chiefs to win with 63% chance – Incorrect
Cortana and Bing went 2-2 in Divisional round, making it 167 – 97 on the season – 63.2%.