After watching a Wild Card Weekend that was devoid of any exciting games, NFL fans were rewarded with a lively Divisional Round. Saturday's doubleheader was a nice warmup for what ended up being a thrilling pair of games on Sunday.
The spectacle of watching Aaron Rodgers, one of the league's all-time greats at the height of his powers, rip the hearts out of Cowboys fans everywhere was something to behold. His completion to Jared Cook with four seconds left that set up Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal was diabolically executed, a feat that's even more amazing considering Rodgers literally drew up the play in the huddle. For Dallas, it brought about an unceremonious end to what was a phenomenal season. For the rest of us, it means a heavyweight showdown this weekend between Rodgers, the hottest quarterback still standing, and Matt Ryan, the likely league MVP.
As we gear up for what should be another great week, PointAfter, a sports data site powered by Graphiq, used data from Bing Predicts to analyze Sunday's doubleheader. Bing Predicts uses web activity and social sentiment -- in addition to historical player, team and match stats -- to predict the outcome of NFL games. Web and social data allow Bing Predicts to capture real-time information about lineup changes and reaction to them to tune the strengths of teams.
First up is the NFC Championship Game, where the Atlanta Falcons will play their final game in the Georgia Dome. The Rodgers vs. Ryan matchup will garner most of the attention in what should be an entertaining shootout. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots square off in the AFC title game, with the Patriots attempting to reach their seventh Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.
Note: Also included with game predictions are the opening lines for each game, courtesy of Vegas Insider.