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NFL Divisional Round: Sunday Open Thread

Here's an open thread for Sunday's NFL divisional round games in the playoffs.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Whatever the two NFL games produce today, it will be hard to top the instant classic that was the Packers/Cardinals game last night.  In case you missed it, the game had the Cardinals re-taking the lead with just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and then Aaron Rodgers heaving an incredible 41 yard Hail Mary while rolling to his left under pressure that sent the game to overtime.  The Cardinals won the toss (after the coin didn't flip the first time) and Larry Fitzgerald took over from there, catching two passes for 80 yards and the game-winning score on that drive.

In the first game, the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20, as the Patriots controlled the game for most of the afternoon and the Chiefs had horrid clock management late that hindered any chance of a comeback.  This afternoon, the divisional round continues with the other two games, and it should be another great day of football.  Consider this your open thread as you watch the games, but first let's take a very brief look at each matchup.

Seattle Seahawks (11-6) at Carolina Panthers (15-1)

1:05 p.m. ET - FOX

The Seattle Seahawks have dominated the NFC playoffs in recent years, but this year they're the wild card traveling to face the top overall seed in the Panthers, who nearly went undefeated and have had a terrific year.  The game features the league's likely MVP (Cam Newton) against a guy who played at an MVP level for the second half of the year (Russell Wilson) at quarterback.  Both teams have good defenses.  It should be a very good game, and it's probably the game that I was the most split on entering this weekend.  In the end, though, I'm picking the Panthers at home to continue their run and set up an NFC Championship game matchup with the Cardinals.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-6) at Denver Broncos (12-4)

4:40 p.m. ET - CBS

The Pittsburgh Steelers could perhaps be the most dangerous team in the AFC playoff picture if at full strength, but they're nowhere near that today.  Le'Veon Bell, one of the best running backs in the league, missed the second half of the season.  DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers' leading rusher this year, won't play.  Antonio Brown, the best receiver in the league, won't play either.  And quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, though he'll play, is injured nonetheless.  If they can pull off a win on Sunday on the road against the NFL's top-ranked defense, it would be an incredible accomplishment, but I'm not predicting it.  The Broncos should be able to put up some points on the Steelers' defense, and if Denver's defense steps up against a very injured Pittsburgh offense, I think the Broncos will pull it out to advance to the AFC Championship game and set up one last Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady title game.