The Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs was nothing short of exciting this weekend, providing upsets, close calls and a blowout. The eight remaining teams in the Divisional Round — led by athletes sponsored by Under Armour, Nike and Adidas — are sure to provide similar theatrics this weekend.
The round starts with the Kansas City Chiefs hitting the road to take on the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Alex Smith of the Chiefs – who hits the field in Nike – helped lead his team to a shutout victory over the Houston Texans, completing 17 of 22 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown during the 30-0 rout on Saturday. The Chiefs are on an 11-game winning streak, but they have a tough task ahead of them with a fresh Patriots team. New England had a bye in the first week of the playoffs and will look to make another Super Bowl run led by its Under Armour-sponsored quarterback, Tom Brady.
Also on Saturday, the Arizona Cardinals will host the Green Bay Packers, teams with far different paths to make it to the playoffs. Arizona – led by Nike-wearing quarterback Carson Palmer – was the NFC West division winner, while Green Bay – led by Adidas-sponsored Aaron Rodgers – lost six of their last 10 regular season games. Although the Packers entered the playoffs with a whimper and not a bang, they stifled the Washington Redskins in the Wild Card round, 35-18. Rodgers completed 21 of 36 passes against Washington, throwing two touchdowns in the win.
The Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks matchup on Sunday is an all Under Armour battle under center, with both of the franchises quarterbacks wearing the brand on the gridiron. Carolina – led by Under Armour-sponsored Cam Newton – had a bye for the first round, while Seattle – led by Russell Wilson, who also wears Under Armour – barely made it out of Sunday’s Wild Card matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, winning 10-9 after Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal that would have given the team the lead with 22 seconds left to play.
The Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers are the final Divisional Round matchup of the weekend, with an all-Nike matchup at the quarterback position. Peyton Manning will be under center for the Broncos two weeks after returning from injury to replace Brock Osweiler in the final regular season game.
While who will play quarterback for the Broncos isn’t in question, the Steelers may not have Ben Roethlisberger for the next playoff game. Roethlisberger was knocked out of the Wild Card Round matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals and is day-to-day with a sore shoulder.