NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-9) (Saturday, NBC, 4:30 PM ET)
The defending Super Bowl champions will head to Seattle’s Qwest Field to begin their title defense against the Seahawks, who captured the NFC West.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” says Saints head coach Sean Payton. “We know it’s going to be a tough place to play. The crowd noise is as loud as it is in this league for an outdoor venue. For us, it’s all about playing your best football at the right time, and that time is right now. Clearly, everyone recognizes that you have to win to advance.”
Leading the way for New Orleans is Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees, who has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (150 of 225) in the playoffs, an NFL record. Brees’ 103.7 postseason passer rating is second all-time behind Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr (104.8).
The Seahawks advanced to the playoffs for the fifth time in the past seven seasons with a 16-6 win last week over the St. Louis Rams in front of a raucous home crowd.
“Our fans are incredible,” says Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. “They rocked the house on Sunday night and I’m grateful we could give back to them. Not only that, we get to come back and play here again on Saturday.”
“Getting into the playoffs, that’s all you want,” says Seahawks linebacker Will Herring. “You just want to have a shot.”
GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-6) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6) (Sunday, FOX, 4:30 PM ET)
The Packers and Eagles meet again at Lincoln Financial Field. The two teams opened the season on Kickoff Weekend in Philadelphia with Green Bay pulling out a 27-20 victory.
“Both teams are better than they were at the time,” says Eagles head coach ANDY REID. “We look forward to the challenge. They have a good football team and we have a good football team. It should be a heck of a game.”
Philadelphia has won both postseason meetings between the teams – the 1960 NFL Championship (17-13) and a 2003 NFC Divisional Playoff (20-17, OT). Green Bay leads the all-time series 24-15, including the playoffs.
The game features the NFC’s top two quarterbacks – the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers led the conference with a 101.2 passer rating and the Eagles’ MICHAEL VICK was second at 100.2. In last year’s Wild Card round, Rodgers passed for a franchise postseason record 423 yards, the second-most ever by a QB in his first playoff start (Kelly Holcomb, 429). Vick, who beat the Packers in the 2002 postseason (with Atlanta), became the first player in NFL history with at least 3,000 passing yards (3,018), 20 touchdowns passes (21), 500 rushing yards (676) and seven rushing touchdowns (nine).
Last week, the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 10-3 at Lambeau Field to clinch a playoff spot in a game Green Bay had to win.
“I’m just proud of this team,” says Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. “We’ve had a difficult road we traveled this year and we’ve met every challenge. We’re at 10 wins and one of the six teams in the NFC playoffs. We’re excited as a football team. We’re really looking forward to preparing this week and competing against Philadelphia in this tournament.”