A number of former SEC stars will be taking the field this weekend as the divisional round of the NFL playoffs gets under way.
And as we saw last weekend, there’s a good chance someone who spent their Saturday’s in the SEC will swing a game and carry their team into conference championship weekend.
Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
The first time the Texans and New England Patriots met, the Patriots dominated and won 27-0. Now, New England gets Tom Brady back, as the 4-time Super Bowl winner sat out the first game as part of his four-game suspension.
If the Texans are going to keep this one close, Clowney will need to make more plays like he did last weekend, when he picked off Connor Cook and constantly pressured the young quarterback.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 7, 2017
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
When healthy, Jones might be the best receiver in the NFL. And his matchup with Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks secondary figures to be one of the more entertaining duels of the weekend.
There was plenty of controversy when the teams met the first time, as a controversial uncalled pass interference penalty ended the hopes of a Falcons win. But this weekend’s game will be in Atlanta and the Seahawks will be without All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Jones, the former Alabama receiver, had seven catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in the first matchup.
Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
Houston, when healthy, is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL. The problem is that the Georgia alum hasn’t been healthy this season.
He missed the Chiefs’ first game against Steelers, which Pittsburgh won 43-14. But if Houston can be his disruptive self, he should make life miserable for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And if he can do that, the Chiefs may advance to the AFC Championship Game.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
With Jordy Nelson out with a rib injury, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will need another big game from Cobb.
The former Kentucky wide receiver had three touchdown catches last week against the Giants in the wild-card round, which boosted Green Bay to a 38-13 win. The Packers and Cowboys have met before this season, with Dallas winning 30-16 in Green Bay.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott is the only rookie quarterback starting this weekend, and he’ll have a tough task going against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The Mississippi State product had a phenomenal rookie year but as Cook showed last week, rookie quarterbacks usually don’t fare well in the NFL playoffs. When Prescott took on the Packers earlier this season, the quarterback completed 18 of his 27 passes for 247 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.