2014 NFL Playoffs: 15 Takeaways from the Divisional Round

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15 Takeaways from the 2014 NFL Divisional Round Playoffs

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

The 2014 NFL Playoffs are now half over and we're down to the final four teams. It's taken eight games to get to this point and unfortunately for fans, there are only three games remaining this postseason.

You can make a solid argument for last weekend's set of games being better than this weekend's slate of games. We didn't have a massive comeback this weekend like the Colts pulled on the Chiefs in the Wild Card round. However, that doesn't mean the action wasn't as good.

Just because we didn't have heart-stopping action like the Wild Card round had, it doesn't mean that we didn't get to see some great football. There were performances put on in the divisional round that will go down in history as some as the greatest ever in the postseason. It just so happens sometimes in the divisional round, the really good teams separate themselves from the good teams. The Wild Card round is just that, very wild, because we have teams playing each other that are much more evenly matched.

Now the stage is set for another tremendous championship Sunday. Fans will be treated to Manning vs. Brady XV and to a matchup of two of the top rivals in the game today. The 49ers and Seahawks have once again worked their way through the NFC and both are showing that old-school football isn't dead.

But when it comes to the weekend that just unfolded, there are many takeaways that fans should consider. After all, four teams were just sent packing for the offseason and with that comes many looming questions. Here are 15 takeaways from the 2014 NFL Divisional Round Playoffs:

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Peyton Manning is a Master at Drawing Defenders Into the Neutral Zone

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USA Today Sports

Omaha! Manning got the Chargers' defenders to jump all over on Sunday. In total, San Diego was whistled five times for neutral zone infractions.

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Drew Brees Needs a New Explosive Receiver

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USA Today Sports

Marques Colston did have a good day against the Seahawks, but in general, he wasn't great for the Saints in 2013. It's clear that Brees needs some new targets in 2014 to help jumpstart the New Orleans offense.

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Belichick and Brady are Making a Case For Being the Best Player/Coach Combo of All Time

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USA Today Sports

If you picked the Pats on Saturday night, it means that you picked Brady and Belichick. The two are as solid a combo as we've ever seen in the NFL. No matter who's around them, they can still put Ws on the board.

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LeGarrette Blount's Emergence is a Product of the New England System

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New England has done it again. They've taken a player that was rough around the edges and made him into a reliable contributor. Blount's performance in the AFC divisional round was one for the ages.

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The Broncos Defense Is Good Enough To Win the Super Bowl

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USA Today Sports

Coming into the divisional round, many people weren't sold on the Broncos' defense. Even though they let the Chargers hang around late, the unit still showed that its good enough to get the team to its ultimate goal.

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Broncos Receivers Need To Limit the Drops

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USA Today Sports

Wes Welker was one of many Bronco receivers to drop balls on Sunday. That flat out can't happen to Denver in the AFC title game.

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Percy Harvin is Officially Injury-Prone

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USA Today Sports

Harvin has had an extremely tough go of it in 2013-14. About five plays into his latest return, he was taken out yet again. This time, it's a concussion.

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The Patriots Can Win a Playoff Game Without a TD Pass From Tom Brady

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Nobody predicted that the Patriots would drop 43 points on Indy and that none of them were the result of a TD pass from Tom Brady. It really speaks volumes about the flexibility of the Pats. A couple years ago they threw it every down. Now, they're a straight-up running team.

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Colin Kaepernick Deserves Credit

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USA Today Sports

People bashed Kaepernick all year. He was called a one-year wonder and many related things. Now, he's back in the NFC title game for the second straight year after out-dueling Cam Newton. It's safe to say, he's for real.

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Cam Newton Isn't 'There' Yet

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USA Today Sports

Speaking of Cam Newton, Sunday's game made it clear - he's not there yet. There, being the top tier of NFL QBs. When it comes down to it, the NFL is about winning games in the postseason. After three years, Newton is still looking for his first playoff W. He's really good, but still a work in progress.

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Beast Mode is Unquestionably the 2nd Best RB in Football

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USA Today Sports

Marshawn Lynch threw the Seahawks on his back Saturday against the Saints. He went off for 140 yards and 2 TDs, easily solidifying himself as the second best back in the game behind AP.

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Philip Rivers is One of the Best QBs in the Game Today

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USA Today Sports

If there's one lesson to be learned from the AFC playoffs, it's don't take the Chargers lightly moving forward. Rivers is a QB that's always going to give his team a chance to win.

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49ers Have a Solid Chance on the Road in Seattle

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USA Today Sports

If any team can go into Seattle and pull the upset, it's the 49ers. Rival teams always have a unique edge and let's face it, San Francisco won't be over-matched against the Seahawks. They've beaten them this season and it's well within the realm of possibility on championship Sunday.

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Keenan Allen Has a Bright Future

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USA Today Sports

Allen just kept getting better as 2013 moved on and he played really well right up to the end. He had a huge day against the Broncos, totaling up 142 yards receiving and 2 TDs.

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The Colts Really Missed Reggie Wayne

Andrew Luck is Only 24-Years Old
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T.Y. Hilton emerged after the Wayne injury, but it was clear from the moment he went down that he'd be sorely missed in Indy. If the Colts had a healthy Wayne on Saturday night, the outcome of the game could have been completely different.

 

 


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