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NFL Divisional Playoffs Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from the Divisional Round in the National Football League playoffs!

– I had my doubts about the Baltimore Ravens but it certainly appears that they are “peaking” just at the right time heading into the AFC Championship Game this week. Joe Flacco really stepped up for the offense when the defense needed his help against Denver and is flashing signs of him being a top NFL quarterback. There is still a lot of work to be done but for Flacco to carry the offense the way he did versus Denver will be a career highlight. Now he needs to finally get that AFC Championship Game victory.

– Disappointing “one and done” exit for the #1 seed Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round. I was skeptical about this team based off of their weak schedule at first but eventually hopped on the bandwagon when they were playing flawlessly to end the season. For a team that is supposed to have an amazing defense their secondary failed Denver all game long against Baltimore. It was a tough break for the Broncos and of course Peyton Manning as they had this victory within their grasps.

– In case you had forgotten, the San Francisco 49ers proved once again that they are one of the best all-around NFL teams in the game today. Offensively they have really improved with Colin Kaepernick under center and their defense is always “rock-solid” for them. From an NFC perspective I always felt like this was the team to beat in 2012, as they are a very hard to defeat simply because this team adapts very well to their opponent.

– Another season, another NFC Divisional round exit for the Green Bay Packers in consecutive years. They looked very strong in the 1st half but their defense was unable to make adjustments in the 2nd half to contain Colin Kaepernick and the explosive Niners offense. This team is always on the brink of being considered “Super Bowl contenders” but it appears that in consecutive year’s at-least that their defense just isn’t getting the job done. I’m interested to see how Ted Thompson and the Packers front-office continue to address their defensive issues (and running game issues) in the offseason.

– For a #1 seed the Atlanta Falcons needed this victory pretty badly. Throughout Matt Ryan’s career we have questioned whether or not Ryan can get it done or not. He finally did this past Sunday and got that playoff victory he has been looking for. Now with the playoff victory in his rearview we now will see whether or not the momentum can carry over versus San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.

– Tremendous season for the Seattle Seahawks this year. They made a lot of people, including yours truly, into believers and have nothing to hang their head on. While they may have not achieved their ultimate goal of being Super Bowl Champions completed, I really like this team heading into next year. I look forward to seeing what Russell Wilson and the Seahawks can do in the 2013 season.

– New England continues to prove that they will be the “old dog” of the AFC until further notice. This team played great on both sides of the ball and they are looking like a more complete team then they were last year, when they made it to the Super Bowl. The Patriots didn’t make mistakes in this game and looked simply flawless against the Texans. They will once again have a chance to play in the Super Bowl next week.

– Another season of disappointment for the Houston Texans as the window of success maybe closing for this team right now. Many of us, including myself, have waited for this team to put it together and make the Super Bowl but they continue to fall short the last two seasons. I really believe a lot of that falls on the shoulders of quarterback Matt Schaub who simply does not look like a “big game” QB in these very important games.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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Jeff Peck

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