NUEVA YORK (AP) — Sus marcas son impresionantes y sus planteles están llenos de estrellas. Abran paso, que llegaron los grandes a los playoffs de la NFL.

Denver, Atlanta, Nueva Inglaterra y San Francisco albergan partidos de playoffs de división este fin de semana. Entre todos tienen 49 triunfos, 14 derrotas y un empate esta temporada, y en sus plantillas hay luminarias de la talla de Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Tony González y Patrick Willis.

También cuentan con marcas impresionantes como locales. Los Broncos, que han ganado 11 partidos al hilo, y los Falcons ganaron siete de sus ocho encuentros en sus feudos; los 49ers tuvieron récord de 6-1-1 y los Patriots 6-2.

Sin embargo, esas credenciales no hacen temblar a los Ravens, Seahawks, Texans o Packers.

"No pienso en eso para nada al ir a Denver", comentó Joe Flacco, el quarterback de los Ravens. "Estamos confiados, y creo que deberíamos estarlo".

El partido de Baltimore en Denver inaugura la fecha, seguido por la visita de Green Bay a San Francisco el sábado por la noche.

El domingo, Seattle viaja a Atlanta y Houston a Nueva Inglaterra.

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Ravens (11-6) en Broncos (13-3).

A pesar de todas sus cifras impresionantes, aquí hay una estadística increíble: Manning tiene apenas marca de 9-10 en partidos de postemporada. Ese récord fue con los Colts, con los que nunca contó con una defensa como la que tiene Denver.

Esa defensa marcó la diferencia cuando los Broncos ganaron 34-17 en Baltimore en la 15ta fecha.

"En realidad no he hecho muchas comparaciones, pero nuestra defensa ha sido fenomenal todo el año", comentó Manning. "Nuestra ofensiva se motiva con la defensa. Creo que esa es una de las cosas que este equipo ha hecho mejor. Si la ofensiva pasa por un mal momento, la defensa nos levanta".

Este será el último duelo entre Manning y el linebacker de los Ravens, Ray Lewis, quien anunció su retiro cuando terminen los playoffs.

"Siempre son clásicos", señaló Lewis. "Es como un partido de ajedrez. El me conoce muy bien, y yo lo conozco muy bien... pero, a fin de cuentas, no se trata sobre Peyton y yo. Se trata de nuestros equipos, y ahora mismo me encanta mi equipo".

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Packers (12-5) en 49ers (11-4-1).

Otro partido de revancha, pero de hace más tiempo: San Francisco ganó 30-22 en el primer partido de la temporada, en el Lambeau Field.

Los Packers tienen la ventaja en sus duelos de postemporada, 4-1. Green Bay parece tener la mejor ofensiva gracias a su quarterback Aaron Rodgers y sus buenos receptores.

Sin embargo, los Niners podrían tener la ventaja en la defensa, al permitir 63 puntos menos en la temporada regular.

Una de las claves será la protección que los Packers le dan a Rodgers, quien fue derribado 51 veces esta temporada. Aldon Smith, uno de los pilares de la defensa de los Niners, tuvo 19 y medio sacks.

"Sabemos que será difícil mantener a Aaron intacto y dejarlo que haga sus jugadas desde el bolsillo", señaló el guard izquierdo T.J. Lang. "Ese será un factor crucial para decidir este partido".

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Seahawks (12-5) en Falcons (13-3).

Los problemas de los Seahawks como visitantes son cosa del pasado. Han ganado tres en fila como visitantes, incluyendo 24-14 en Washington en el partido de la ronda de wild cards.

Con seis triunfos consecutivos en general, Seattle es un equipo confiado rumbo a su duelo en el Georgia Dome.

"Hemos crecido y estamos más unidos, y más sincronizados con nuestro quarterback y con lo que él puede hacer", apuntó el entrenador Pete Carroll, refiriéndose al quarterback novato Russell Wilson. "Ahora mismo, es bastante difícil ganarnos".

Atlanta ha sido un rival bastante dócil en sus tres últimos partidos de playoffs, algo que el quarterback Matt Ryan quiere cambiar.

"Hemos demostrado que podemos ser exitosos. Tenemos que creerlo. Me siento más cómodo con los compañeros que me rodean", afirmó.

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Texans (13-4) en Patriots (12-4).

Otra revancha, esta vez del partido del 10 de diciembre en el que los Texans cayeron 42-10 en Foxborough. Ese fue el principio de una mala racha en la que perdieron tres de cuatro partidos y se hundieron al tercer puesto en la Conferencia Americana.

Houston se recuperó en parte la semana pasada con una victoria 19-13 sobre Cincinnati, aunque ahora enfrenta un rival de otra categoría.

"Si quieres avanzar, necesitas tener una actitud y agresividad y dominar a tu oponente en cada jugada", apuntó el quarterback de Houston, Matt Schaub, quien consiguió su primer triunfo en postemporada la semana pasada.

Tom Brady tiene 16 victorias en playoffs y le falta una para romper un empate con Joe Montana y quedar solo en la cima.

"Ha ganado muchos partidos de temporada regular y muchos partidos de playoffs", dijo el entrenador de los Patriots, Bill Belichick. "Lo que hace a diario, lo que hace en los entrenamientos, lo que hace en los partidos, ya sean de pretemporada, de temporada regular, de postemporada, lo que sea, es bastante consecuente. Creo que eso se nota durante la semana, y lo demuestra el domingo".

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