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The Hudsucker is an online magazine made up of unique and dedicated writers with fresh voices from across the country and overseas. Our team of writers are passionate and driven, bringing forth their personalities in each article. Since its inception in 2012, The Hudsucker has continuously proven how writing is our strongest fingerprint. By creating a smart and ambitious environment for readers, the digital magazine focusing on popular culture aims to be relatable through experiences and passions.

The Hudsucker Presents NFL Weekly: Week 17 – Heading Into Playoffs

Things are going to get wild this weekend! Playoffs begin in just a few short hours with the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium, kicking off the 2014 NFL Playoffs. It’s been an interesting season, watching  all 32 teams fight it out for the top spot but ultimately, only one can be named the Super Bowl champ, so who is it going to be? 

NFL Playoff Chart 01

As the AFC Wild Card games take place this afternoon, we can’t help but wonder how these teams are going to play. By evidence of their season records, the Broncos and Seahawks enter the playoffs as fan and critic favorites to reach the Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s interesting to learn that six of the twelve teams competing in the post-season games this year, have starting quarterbacks that were drafted in the first round (Carolina, Indianapolis, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, and Green Bay). It definitely adds to the dream and romanticism of the sport, that these are true players who breath and bleed football.

The journey to the big game in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium this February will no doubt be a tough one; a road paved with much heart and grit. Playoff football is a lot more different than regular season football. There is only one shot for these teams and surely it’s a lot of pressure, but this is what they have been working towards in these past seventeen weeks. Each team needs to produce the best possible play in order to solidify their future and a chance at the Super Bowl.

So as we wait for the games to start, let’s recap some of the plays from the ground-breaking Week 17. How did the games look? Our writers Chris Hill and Tania Hussain team up and share some highlights from their favorite games, what they thought of the plays and what’s ahead for the teams as we head into playoffs!

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

Panthers, 21-20

Chris:

The Panthers’ D is something else. People have downplayed the skill of the secondary, but if you’re able to sack a QB at will, you don’t need a secondary. Johnson and Hardy were unblockable on what is fast becoming the most impressive unit of 2013.

The Falcons’ “offensive line” were turnstiles, plain and simple. I’d love to know how much ice Matt Ryan used after the game. The only good news for the Falcons is that Roddy White looked healthy.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

Image Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY

Colts, 30-10

Tania:

The Colts have been playing very well, particularly on defense these past few weeks, though at times are hard to assess. In Week 17, Indy played Jacksonville and made Coach Chuck Pagano a happy camper. His vision for Indy has truly restored confidence in the team, allowing them to fly right into playoffs today with Kansas City. During the game against the Jaguars, the Colts had a phenomenal first quarter. Indy’s QB Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one TD; kicker Adam Vinatieri made history and joined the 2,000-point club, with LB Robert Mathis reclaiming the lead record for NFL sacks; while RB Trent Richardson looked amazing tackling his opponents, and WR T.Y Hilton torched the Jacksonville defensive backfield, proving himself fierce this season. Hilton has set his own records this season, setting career highs with 11 catches for 155 yards. The Indianapolis Colts clinched the AFC South and the game against Jacksonville was a strong statement to the league, showing that the team can definitely rise up and make some noise.

Indy finished the regular season 11-5, with a divisional lead of 6-0. As they take on the Chiefs today, I do believe they will succeed. They have regained their way to be a true contender into the playoffs. The Colts played exceptionally well against Super Bowl contenders like San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver, ultimately defeating them during their 6-2 start. WR Reggie Wayne suffered a heartbreaking season-ending injury but since then, they have adjusted into the loss with T.Y Hilton who has shown his worth and really knows how to be QB Luck’s field asset. What’s interesting to see is the Colts have also gotten aggressive on the offense, with such an example seen in the last week of regular season. I think they will take down the Chiefs today. Or so I hope.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Image Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports

Packers, 33-28

Chris:

Aaron Rodgers was a little rusty on his returned, but he showed why he is one of the best QBs in the game. However, a ton of credit has to go to Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. They made plays when it counted. Still worry about that defense in the playoffs though.

Speaking of, how bad are the Bears on D? Complete 180 turnaround from last year and years past. Jay Cutler was the weak link, though you can tell why McCown was a breath of fresh air – he didn’t have tunnel vision on Marshall.

Still, this game was easily one of the best of the weekend.

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

Image Credit: John Leyba/The Denver Post

Broncos, 34-14

Tania:

After last year’s defensive debacle, it’s good to see the Broncos make it this far again! I’m curious to see how it all pans out for the team this year as Manning has really shown the league what type of player he truly is. Peyton Manning has been a most excellent quarterback this year, setting NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air. Throughout the season, the star quarterback has worked to set the NFL single-season yards record and during the Oakland game, threw for four TD passes to help the Broncos clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos, like the Seahawks, finished this season at 13-3. The Broncos carved up the Raiders last week, exposing Oakland’s weaknesses but still need to improve on a few things of their own. In the first half, they dominated, building a 31-0 score at halftime. Coach John Fox gave Manning and some of the other regular teammates the second half off to rest for the first playoff game two weeks from now in Denver, resulting in a build-up from the Raiders and an in-depth examination from Denver into their defense.  Backup QB  backup Brock Osweiler took over Manning’s position, starting the third quarter off to a 34-14 victory.

During the Oakland game, Manning broke Drew Brees’ 2011 record of 5,476 yards with a 5-yard pass to WR Demaryius Thomas with just 13 seconds left in the first half to make it 31-0; letting Manning end his day with 25 of 28 passes completed. The quarterback broke a ton of records this season and is a contender for MVP. He finished regular season with 5, 477 yards and 55 TD passes. It’s undetermined now as to who the Broncos will play, but I sense they will indeed make it a wild game, and create some depth of their own as they take on one of the AFC contenders. One scenario is that they play Indianapolis.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

Image Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

49ers, 23-20

Tania:

This must have been a tough loss for Arizona as they were so close, ending the season at 10-6. Sure it may not have mattered in the end as the 49ers were still ahead of them by two games, but it must have hurt. QB Carson Palmer really tried here, throwing for 400 yards but to a defense that didn’t know how to execute his passes and were continuously slowed down by errors and a strong San Francisco defense. The 49ers WR Michael Crabtree could very well be the key in the team revitalizing their passing attacks as seen last week against Arizona. QB Colin Kaepernick finished the season with his own personal victories; completing 310-yards at Arizona which marked this game as his biggest passing game since hitting a career-high of 412-yards during the first week of football against Green Bay this season, closing regular season at 12-4, with 5-1 in their division. He made the game against Arizona a memorable one, showcasing his strength in passing–something Green Bay needs to tackle once they play them tomorrow in the playoffs at Lambeau Field in snowy Wisconsin.

This season has proven well for Coach Jim Harbaugh as he has led his team into playoffs. I’m thinking with Green Bay’s record this season, San Francisco might have the upper hand but keep in mind, Aaron Rodgers is back and played amazingly against the Bears last week. If anything, Green Bay is all about Rodgers and if the 49ers realize that and utilize their offense effectively, they might be able to tackle their way into their first round of playoff wins.

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Image Credit: NFL/Getty Images

Eagles, 24-22

Chris:

Let’s start with the end. Was it ever going to end any other way besides a pick from Dallas? Next question – was Kyle Orton sacked at all? He displayed great decision making in the pocket and the only penalty I remember seeing on offense was because of the timekeeper’s gaffe. DeMarco Murray is a beast–when he wants to be.

Conversely, you have to wonder if Nick Foles is ready for the playoffs. He cannot change the play at the line of scrimmage. If Lesean McCoy doesn’t carry the load, I think the offense will stutter again. Meanwhile, Mychal Kendricks looks like a great tackler but Philly is a bit undersized at linebacker– just ask Jason Witten.

Who are you rooting for in the playoffs? Let us know what you thought of this past season by sounding off in the comments below. What do you hope to see in today’s games?

About the Authors

___________________________________________

Tania Hussain is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief here at The Hudsucker, and a freelance writer at the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). She has her own column over at NBC News’ Newsvine and has completed a manuscript awaiting to be published. She is a member of  The Canadian Authors Association, a national organization dedicated to promoting a flourishing community of writers across Canada. Tania is an avid Colts, Elvis and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses. Follow her on Twitter as @westlifebunny.

Chris Hill graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of ‘nerdy’ things that would embarrass his wife. Follow him on Google+.

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