We’re three weeks away from Super Bowl LI, and the playoffs are heating up to determine the two best teams. The epicenter of the action takes us to Atlanta and Foxboro as the Seattle Seahawks came to Georgia for a rematch against the Falcons, while AFC South champs Houston Texans visited the confines of the New England Patriots. For the second Saturday in a row, the home teams would emerge victorious. Seattle (10-6-1) struggled heavily on the road as they would fall 36-20 to a Falcons (12-5) team with a lot of momentum. In the AFC game, New England (15-2) stood their ground at home, defeating the Texans (9-8) 34-16.
The @Patriots make it through to Championship Sunday!
— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2017
Matt Ryan once again showed why he’s in the conversation for league MVP, throwing 26-37,for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Seattle seemed to have no answer for Atlanta’s offense, allowing three Falcon receivers yardage of at least 60 yards or more, led by running back Devonta Freeman (80). Ryan’s favorite target, Julio Jones, would have a modest game of 67 yards and a score. For Russell Wilson, the playoff magic he’s displayed in previous seasons just wasn’t happening in the Georgia Dome, going 17-30 for 228 yards, two scores and two picks, the last of which was a bobbled pass that landed in the hands of linebacker Deion Jones and sealed the game for the Falcons. Seahawk WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham would be the only players for Seattle to score, having yards of 80 and 22 respectively.
At Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady would lead New England to their sixth straight AFC title game. Despite throwing two interceptions in the game, Brady would complete 18 of 38 passes for 287 yards and two scores. The player of the game would be Pats running back Dion Lewis, scoring three touchdowns in the game, including a 98-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler couldn’t replicate the performance he had against Oakland last week, throwing only for 198 yards, one touchdown (to TE C.J. Fiedorowicz), and three picks. Texans receiver Deandre Hopkins would finish the game with 65 yards receiving.
For Atlanta, it will be their fourth time advancing to the NFC title game, and the first time since the 2012 season. If Green Bay defeats Dallas tomorrow afternoon, the Falcons will host the title game next Sunday in their last home game in the Georgia Dome; if Dallas wins, Atlanta will venture into AT&T Stadium. For New England, the Patriots await the winner of the Pittsburgh vs Kansas City game at Arrowhead Stadium. Regardless of the outcome, the AFC title game will be in Foxboro, MA.
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