10 Storylines to Follow During the 2014 NFL Divisional Playoffs Round

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10 Storylines to Follow

Storylines
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With Wild Card weekend over, it’s time to turn our attention to the highly anticipated Divisional round of the 2014 NFL playoffs. Obviously, there was more than enough excitement jam packed into last weekend, which is why fans should be incredibly enthusiastic for what lies ahead.

Three of the contests during Wild Card weekend were decided by three points or less, with the San Diego Chargers winning by 17 being the only blowout. Considering the matchups that are on tap for this weekend, one can only assume that the best sports fans in the world are in for another wild ride.

Three of the four games include teams that have played each other at least once during the 2013 regular season. For that reason, there are several storylines to talk about for each and every game. In fact, one week is simply not enough time to discuss everything that could happen during the upcoming weekend.

Obviously, there are no guarantees, as numerous storylines may never even come to fruition. For instance, the cold weather during the contest between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers wasn’t nearly as much of a factor as the media tried to depict it. A big reason for that was because it wasn’t as cold as it was supposed to be.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see 10 storylines to following during the 2014 NFL Divisional playoffs round. Also, make sure to comment below on which storylines you are most excited for this weekend. Along with that, tell us about any major storylines that you believe will be a huge factor in which teams are victorious.

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Chargers Could Be Cinderella Story

Chargers
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that there’s always at least one Cinderella story every year during the NFL playoffs. This season, that team appears to be San Diego. The Chargers weren’t even supposed to be in the postseason as they were written off prior to Week 17. However, the necessary teams losing and a little help from the referees go a long ways. Not only did the Chargers pull off the upset last weekend, the might just have enough luck to defeat Goliath, I mean, the Denver Broncos.

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Andrew Luck Looks to Continue Magic

Luck
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of luck, Andrew Luck pulled off quite the heist when he led the Indianapolis Colts to a come-from-behind victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no question the comeback kid has some magic up his sleeve. A big storyline to follow will be how that will hold up against the Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

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49ers Have Look of Team of Destiny

49ers
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers were so close to winning it all last season. Obviously, losing the Super Bowl leaves a bad taste in a team’s mouth. Good thing for San Francisco is they got better in the offseason and currently have the look of a team of destiny, especially after their incredible win against the Packers at legendary Lambeau Field. Everyone wants to focus on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC but don’t take your attention away from San Francisco for too long.

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Cam Newton Trying to Take Panthers to Next Level

Newton
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2008. It appears everything is falling into place, as this is clearly what the Panthers had in mind when they drafted the quarterback a few years ago. It’s one thing to lead a starved fan base to the playoffs. It’s another to take it to the next level. All eyes will be on Newton on Sunday.

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No. 1 Seeds Should Beware

Seeds
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Since 1990, only nine No. 1 seeds have won the Super Bowl. Even crazier, less than half of the No. 1 seeds over that span even reached the big dance. Only two No. 1 seeds in the AFC have won the Super Bowl in the past 22 years, while only two No. 1 seeds in either conference have won the big game since 2003. The last No. 1 seed to win the Super Bowl was the New Orleans Saints in 2009, while the last No. 1 seed to reach the Super Bowl was the Patriots in 2011. With that being said, if there was ever a season that both No. 1 seeds reach the Super Bowl, it could very well be the Seahawks and Broncos this year.

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Candlestick Could Host One More Game

Candlestick
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The last Monday Night Football game of the season was at Candlestick Park in celebration of one of the most iconic stadiums in sports closing its doors. However, there’s a decent possibility that Candlestick could host one more game before it turns its lights off forever. If the 49ers defeat the Panthers and the Saints beat the Seahawks then San Francisco will host the NFC Championship Game. Talk about a major storyline.

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AFC West Showdown Without Chiefs in Mix

Chiefs
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t really that big of a storyline heading into the second round of the playoffs but it’s still worth mentioning. The Divisional round will see the Chargers take on the Broncos in a battle of AFC West teams. The crazy part is that all season we expected to see the Broncos host the Chiefs in this position, especially since the two teams battled all season for the division crown.

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Top Defenses Look to Prevail

Defenses
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Six of the eight teams playing this weekend are in the top 10 in scoring defense, including four teams that rank in the top four. In fact, the Seahawks, Panthers, 49ers and Saints are considered the top four defenses in the league. For that reason, fans can expect several close games, similar to last weekend, as defenses will look to prevail. Obviously, there will be some exceptions. I’m looking at you Denver and San Diego. It’s been awhile since the playoffs have seen so many stifling defenses packed into one weekend.

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Which Teams Will Learn From Regular Season Mistakes?

Mistakes
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As I already stated, three of the four games will be rematches of contests that occurred during the regular season. The Seahawks crushed the Saints, the Panthers narrowly beat the 49ers and the Chargers and Broncos took a split in their two matchups. It will all come down to which teams will learn from their regular season mistakes and use it to their advantage.

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Will Drew Brees Make Good on His Word?

Brees
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks embarrassed the heck out of the Saints on Monday Night Football in Week 13. There really isn’t any other way to put it. It was a 34-7 beat down that proved Seattle is the team to beat in the NFC. Drew Brees was held to just 147 yards passing and one touchdown, while the running game mustered only 44 yards on the ground.

"We know they (Seahawks) are a team we are going to have to deal with in the future," Brees told nola.com after the loss. "We are going to have to find a way to play better against these guys when that time comes."

Brees knew on that night what the future held and he was right. Now, it will be up to the New Orleans legend to make good on his word. On top of that, the storyline of the 2011 playoffs will be sure to come into play at some point.


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