Ravens 38, Broncos 35 (OT) Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver, CO)
A few things were unlearned in the Division Round opener: Joe Flacco (18-34-331-3) can’t deliver on the road; Champ Bailey is still island-worthy, or so says the 3-98-2 Torrey Smith dropped on him; and perhaps most importantly, not every NFL safety adheres to “deeper than the deepest man”.
Extra points: Haters love to pin this loss on Peyton Manning (28-43-290-3-2), and the pick that set up Baltimore’s game-winning score was bad, but there’s more than enough blame to go around—especially the ill-advised taking of a knee with 38 seconds and two timeouts left. Ronnie Hillman (22-83, 3-20 receiving) stepped up when Knowshon Moreno (10-32, 2-21-1 receiving) went down, but there are still pass protection issues. Baltimore OC Jim Caldwell may be pushing his way to a shot at a head coaching job by simply giving the ball to Ray Rice (30-131-1). And finally, if your playoff fantasy league includes special teams Trindon Holliday (90-yard punt return touchdown, 104-yard kickoff return touchdown) was a godsend.
49ers 45, Packers 31 Candlestick Park (San Francisco, CA)
Aaron Rodgers (26-39-257-2-1, 3-28 rushing) has a chip on his shoulder from the 49ers passing on him coming out of Cal—but if the consolation prize of suffering through a couple seasons with Alex Smith is Colin Kaepernick (17-31-263-2-1, an NFL record 16-181-1 rushing), it’s all good.
Extra points: While Kaepernick stole the show—and played his way into serious danger of being overvalued on fantasy draft day next August—don’t overlook Michael Crabtree (9-119-2) stepping up as a legit fantasy producer. And Frank Gore’s 23-119-1—plus 2-48 receiving—shouldn’t be ignored as well. The Packers spread things around, but Greg Jenning’s 6-54-1 likely are a swan song for the Green and Gold, which should open things up for James Jones (4-87-1) and others to contribute more consistently. The jury is still out on DuJuan Harris (11-53-1 rushing, 2-11 receiving); right now he looks like a real value pick, but the Packers could look to replace him in the draft.
Falcons 30, Seahawks 28 Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)
The first half was all Falcons, with the usual suspects doing the damage. For 29 minutes and 30 seconds the second half was all Seahawks, with Russell Wilson (24-36-385-2-1 plus 7-60-1 rushing) carrying the team with assists from Zach Miller (8-142-1) and Golden Tate (6-103-1). But Matt Ryan (24-35-250-3-2) used the final half-minute to steal his first playoff win with two key completions to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal.
Extra points: The side effect of Wilson’s big day was Marshawn Lynch (16-46-1, 3-37) seeing less than 20 touches on the day. Atlanta continued moving towards a full-on RBBC, with Michael Turner (14-98) and Jacquizz Rodgers (10-64, 2-8 receiving) sharing the load; expect that situation to be addressed in the offseason. Finally, a tip of the hat to Tony Gonzalez (6-51-1) for coming up large to secure the first postseason win of his Hall of Fame career.
Patriots 41, Texans 28 FedEx Field (Landover, MD)
Ho-hum; Tom Brady (25-40-344-3) directs yet another postseason win. Arian Foster (22-90-1, 7-63-1 receiving) and Matt Schaub (34-51-343-2-1) put up a fight, but defensively the Texans had no answers other than J.J. Watt occasionally blowing up a play.
Extra points: Stevan Ridley (15-82-1, 1-13 receiving) got his, but Shane Vereen (7-41-1 rushing, 5-83-2 receiving) stole the show after replacing the injured Danny Woodhead. Speaking of injured, hope your fantasy team was heavily invested in Rob Gronkowski; he reinjured his forearm and is done for the postseason. Bad news for the Patriots, but going forward that’s good news for Aaron Hernandez (6-85) and his fantasy owners.