NFC wild-card preview: QBs under pressure Sunday

With the AFC wild-card games over, NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what's in store for Sunday's NFC matchups.


Seattle Seahawks: Don't be surprised if Russell Wilson uses his legs more in this game. He had 51 rushing yards in the first meeting against the Vikings and totaled 553 yards on the ground in the regular season, third among quarterbacks. The Seahawks haven't called on the read-option as much, but they still have it as part of their arsenal. And when the Vikings play man-to-man coverage, Wilson could find opportunities to scramble. -- Sheil Kapadia

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will be underdogs at home after losing to Seattle 38-7 on Dec. 6, but coach Mike Zimmer almost seems more comfortable with that than if the Vikings were favored. "I know no one is giving us any chance to win this game and that's fine," Zimmer said. "But there's only [five] teams in the league that have better records than us, so we've done a couple things right." -- Ben Goessling

Green Bay Packers: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers might not know until the last minute who will be protecting his blind side. The Packers listed left tackle David Bakhtiari as questionable because of his ankle injury. That's the same designation they gave him the previous week and he was unable to go. Bakhtiari said "we'll see Sunday" if this week is any different. Rodgers has been sacked 13 times in the past two weeks without Bakhtiari in the lineup. Protecting him might be the key to Sunday's game against Washington. -- Rob Demovsky

Washington Redskins: It'll be interesting to see how the Packers defend the Redskins on Sunday and if they continue using man-to-man coverage and leaving the middle of the field as an exposed area. The Redskins have feasted this season against man coverage, especially finding weak spots in the middle. Tight end Jordan Reed has caught 48 passes, including seven for touchdowns, on throws between the numbers -- and he averages 14.46 yards on 13 catches between the hashes. -- John Keim

Teams that have byes

Denver Broncos: After Friday's practice Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips expressed how much the team's defense needed its hard-earned bye. "We've got some guys banged up, we would have had a hard time playing this week. ... We would have had a lot of question marks, I think all of them would have probably played ... but it's a welcome relief to have this." Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, Brandon Marshall, T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart and DeMarcus Ware were among the defensive starters who were held out of Friday's practice. Ware remains the biggest question mark for Denver's playoff opener Jan. 17, with Stewart's status uncertain as well. The rest are expected to play in a week. The Broncos will practice Saturday, take off Sunday and get back to work Monday. -- Jeff Legwold

New England Patriots: Patriots coach Bill Belichick lightened the load on players Friday, surprising them by calling off practice and focusing on more team-building exercises. One of them was taking players bowling at nearby Patriot Place, to which players can walk from the locker room. This came after Belichick held light walk-through practices on Wednesday and Thursday. -- Mike Reiss

Carolina Panthers: Carolina players have Saturday and Sunday off after a full week of practice, including a Friday session in pads. They'll return Monday to begin preparing for their Jan. 17 game against either Seattle, Green Bay or Washington. Since they have played all three teams this season they already have film broken down on each, but they'll still have scouts at the games to get a feel for these teams in their playoff mode. Most of the players plan to hang around Charlotte and rest instead of taking off for a mini-vacation. -- David Newton

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are eagerly awaiting who they'll face Jan. 16 -- either Minnesota, Green Bay or Washington. Some players will spend Sunday watching the game together while others will hunker down on their couches enjoying a weekend without football. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday that Arizona had a "really good week" of practice and at times he had to slow his players down. -- Josh Weinfuss


The Chiefs crushed the Texans on Saturday, 30-0. Here's a look at a our stories from the game:

The Steelers fought back to down the Bengals on Saturday, 18-16. Here's a look at a our stories from the game: