NFL Playoffs: And then there were eight
Wild Card Weekend is in the books without any major surprises but plenty of storylines. On the AFC side both Houston and Baltimore were sliding into the playoffs but thanks to solid defense both teams are moving on to the divisional round. Baltimore-Denver and Houston-New England will both be rematches of key late season contests won by the Broncos and Patriots.
Red hot Seattle continued to play all-around solid football by erasing an early 14 point lead. It was clear coming into the weekend that the biggest difference between Seattle and Washington was defense and with three quarters of good defense Seattle became the only wild card team to advance. Furthermore, the Seahawks scored a rare road win and now will prepare to face an Atlanta team that has to prove it can win in January.
So as you can see, defense was the theme of Wild Card Weekend. And that brings us to the Packers. There's no question that facing Joe Webb instead of Christian Ponder gave a boost to Green Bay's defense. But it really shouldn't matter who is turning around to give the ball to Adrian Peterson. By holding AP to 99 yards the Packers defense accomplished quite a feat: they kept the usually unstoppable Peterson in check. By building a 21 point lead the Packers forced Webb to throw and the Vikings weren't going to win that way.
Offensively it was really only half a performance but after opening the third quarter with a touchdown the Packers could go into cruise control. The only glaring hole for the Packers were the five straight three-and-outs in the second half. Ultimately it didn't hurt the Packers but even one sustained drive would've been nice to see. There was some concern after the game that the Packers didn't exhibit a killer instinct. Fact is, they didn't need to. You can bank on the fact that if the Packers have a two touchdown lead against San Francisco they will keep the foot on the gas pedal.