If something seems familiar about this year’s NFL Playoffs, you would be right. Rematches seem to be a theme in the first two rounds.
There were three rematches on Wild Card weekend, and the only game that wasn’t a rematch was the Seattle Seahawks’ 26-6 win over the Detroit Lions.
The Houston Texans avenged a 27-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders with a 27-14 win. The Pittsburgh Steelers made up for a 30-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins, turning the tables for a 30-6 victory. Green Bay beat the New York Giants in the regular season 23-16 and bounced New York from the playoffs with a 38-13 win.
All four games this weekend, which is the Divisional Round, are rematches of regular-season matchups. That means seven of the eight playoff games so far will be rematches of teams that meet during the regular season.
In week three, New England destroyed the Houston Texans 27-0 in a game that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t even play in, as he was suspended. Week four saw the Steelers blow out the Kansas City Chiefs 43-14. The playoffs have two rematches from week six: the Dallas Cowboys against the Packers (The Cowboys beat them 30-16) and Seattle and Atlanta (the Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24).
The regular season scores matter little since all the games took place in the first half of the season. All these teams have changed over the course as players have returned from injuries or suspensions or teams have lost players to injury or suspension. Each team has seen improvements in play since these teams first met early in the season.
Teams that lost in the regular season meeting went 2-1 in the Wild Card round. The only team to repeat its regular season performance was Green Bay, and if that holds for the Packers, it is good news for the Cowboys.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw his first career interception against the Packers, but the Cowboys forced four turnovers. Prescott had a fumble in the game as well. Dallas took control of the game with its 191 rushing yards.
Pittsburgh and Houston flipped the script on their regular-season foes, but both teams faced backup quarterbacks in the rematch. Houston couldn’t defeat New England without Brady, and Brady is back and on fire.
The Steelers did beat Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith, but Kansas City has speedy return man Tyreek Hill and is better in pass coverage. The most important part of this rematch is that it is at home for the Chiefs.
Seattle and Atlanta’s first meeting ended in controversy. The final play that mattered in the game looked like Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman interfered with Falcon wide receiver Julio Jones.
It will be interesting to see if Sherman is on Jones and how closely the officials call that matchup. These two superstar players could decide this game.
Another interesting tidbit is that all four games in the Divisional Round feature a Super Bowl-winning quarterback: Brady for New England, Russell Wilson for Seattle, Aaron Rodgers for Green Bay and Ben Roethlisberger for Pittsburgh.
The conference title game may possibly have a couple of rematches. In the AFC, Pittsburgh lost 27-16 to New England in week seven, and Green Bay defeated Seattle in week 14 with a score of 38-10.