The NFL Playoffs bracket 2017 edition saw one half of the playoffs picture made clearer on Saturday evening. In the Divisional round, both the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons emerged victorious, moving on to the AFC and NFC Championship Game next weekend, respectively. As it currently stands, New England is set to host either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. The Atlanta Falcons were also winners to set the stage for an NFC showdown with either the Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers. Here’s a look at how they got there and the latest NFL playoff bracket schedule updates.
According to the LA Times the Atlanta Falcons were the first big winner in Saturday’s action, defeating the Seattle Seahawks in an impressive 36-20 victory. The biggest standout in the game was just how high-powered the Falcons offense is and how capable Matt Ryan is of having a big game. Ryan, who could be this year’s NFL MVP, had 338 yards passing along with three touchdowns.
Most impressive was also the fact that a usually tough Seattle Seahawks defense was unable to stop this offensive juggernaut from exploding. The Falcons may have been under the radar when it came to some football fans believing they had what it takes, but that’s no longer the case. Many analyts are pegging them as “unstoppable” based on yesterday’s performance.
Of the remaining playoff teams, Atlanta was best overall in terms of their total offensive yards racked up and average yards per game in the regular season. They also led the league in points per game, averaging 33.8 a contest, which was over six points more than the third-best team, New England. Not only was it their passing game that was excellent thanks to Matt Ryan, but they also were the fifth-best team in terms of total rushing yards.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 14, 2017
Running back Devonta Freeman racked up 1,079 yards on the ground this season with 11 touchdowns on 227 carries. Add that to Ryan’s impressive 4,944 passing yards, and this is a force to be reckoned with. Now they await the winner of the Green Bay vs. Dallas game on Sunday to set up an interesting matchup for next weekend.
In the AFC, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots weren’t as sharp as usual, but even with that performance, they still won by double digits. According to ESPN, running back Dion Lewis was a major game changer, as he scored three touchdowns. What made those three scores impressive was that they were each different in nature.
Lewis had not only a one-yard TD run, but a 13-yard TD reception and a huge 98-yard kickoff return for his third. He finished with just 41 yards total on the ground, but add in his 124 yards on three kickoff returns (including a long of 98 yards), and 23 yards of receiving for a solid all-around performance to help the Pats. The Patriots’ defense intercepting three passes from Houston’s Brock Osweiler certainly helped as well.
All of that translated to a 34-16 win for the Pats, as head coach Bill Bellichick will now prepare them for either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Kansas City Chiefs. The good news is that Brady and the Pats rarely have two-straight bad performances, and they’ll once again be playing in front of their home crowd in Massachusetts.
Receiving TD: ✔
Kick return TD: ✔
Rushing TD: ✔ https://t.co/joA9c5iR4J
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 15, 2017
New England faced the Steelers this past season in Pittsburgh and won 27-16, but that game lacked Ben Roethlisberger on the field. The Pats didn’t play Kansas City this past season which could also set up an intriguing AFC Championship matchup next weekend.
The two championship games will take place on Sunday, January 22. As mentioned, this year’s AFC game will be hosted by New England, irregardless of their opponent. The NFC game was up in the air until either Dallas or Green Bay wins on Sunday. The No. 2 seed Atlanta Falcons were awaiting to see if the lower-seeded Packers win and they would host them, or if they’d be traveling to Dallas for a showdown with the No. 1 seed. Below are the latest updated schedules and the NFL Playoff bracket going forward.
NFC Divisional Round:
Packers vs. Cowboys 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX)
AFC Divisional Round:
Steelers at Chiefs 8:00 p.m. E.T. (NBC)
NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons 3:05 p.m. E.T. (FOX)
AFC Championship Game
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2017
There’s also a printable NFL playoff bracket available here from Heavy website showing the teams that have advanced so far. It certainly has made things exciting as fans anticipate who will be participating in the Super Bowl in Texas in several weeks from now. Will Tom Brady and the Patriots be there once again, or will a team get in their way? Can Matt Ryan finally overcome his previous playoff failings to reach the big game?
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]