PLAYOFF WATCH 2017: Seahawks sign Devin Hester

The Vince Lombardi Trophy. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

The Vince Lombardi Trophy. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Good morning and Happy New Year! This is Playoff Watch 2017, the early buzz in NFL playoffs.

Seattle signed former Falcons returner Devin Hester to help re-start their return game on Wednesday.

Hester, 34, played for the Falcons in 2014 and spent most of 2015 on injured reserve before being released. In 2014, he lead the league with 45 kickoff returns for 1,128 yards and was named the Pro Bowl.

The Falcons will face No. 3 Seattle (10-5-1) if the Seahawks can defeat No. 6 seed Detroit (9-7) on Saturday. Atlanta’s divisional round game is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Georgia Dome.

If Detroit beats Seattle, they would play No. 1 seed Dallas (13-3) and the Falcons would face the No. 4 seed Green Bay (10-6) vs. No. 5 seed New York Giants (11-5) winner.

Hester spent most of the 2016 season with the Baltimore Ravens. He played in 12 games before Baltimore being released. He averaged 24.5 yards on kickoff returns and 7.2 yards on punt returns while with the Ravens and did not add to his NFL-record total of 20 return touchdowns.

Seahawks returner Tyler suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg in the 34-31 loss to Arizona on Dec. 24.  Defensive back Richard Sherman returned punts in the regular season finale, but was under orders to just catch the ball.  Former Falcons wide receiver J.D. McKissic and receiver Paul Richardson returned kickoffs.

Devin Hester pays homage to Falcons Hall of Famer Deion Sander as he returns a punt 62-yards for a touchdown - marking his 20th return  for a touchdown and breaking the all-time record set by Sanders. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Devin Hester pays homage to Falcons Hall of Famer Deion Sander as he returns a punt 62-yards for a touchdown – marking his 20th return for a touchdown and breaking the all-time record set by Sanders back in 2014. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Sherman ran one for six yards and catch the other four as ordered by coach Pete Carroll.

Hester is the third-leading punt returner in NFL history with 3,695 yards and 11th all-time in kickoff return yards with 11,333 in a career that dates to 2006.

McKissic update. McKissic was a star of training camp and made the practice squad. He was elevated for one game (inactive) before being released. He had a kickoff return for  22 yards on his only kickoff return in what was the first game of his NFL career. “He did a good job,” Carroll told the Seattle Times. “He played a good football game for us. That’s the first time he played in a regular season, NFL game. He was very comfortable, competed really well, good decision making, handled the ball well. He did fine. We like that guy.”

Hebert supports Ryan’s MVP bid.  NFL On TuneIn host and former Pro Bowl quarterback Kordell  Stewart and his co-host Brian Webber spoke with former Pro Bowl quarterback and radio host Bobby Hebert about Matt Ryan winning the MVP this season.

Bobby Hebert Comments “Matt Ryan is the MVP”

Brian: “Where would you put Matt Ryan in the MVP Race?”

Bobby Hebert: “Matt Ryan is the MVP. I don’t know how you cannot give him the MVP with his consistency, what he’s been able to do, he’s deserving of the MVP. We all know Tom Brady only threw 2 interceptions, that’s ridiculous.

People being on the Aaron Rodgers bandwagon, how are you closing it out? But as far as from the beginning to the end, I think Matt Ryan should be the MVP. ”

Detroit announced that it plans to retain head coach Jim Caldwell. Not every one in the Motor City was happy about the move.

Giants rocked by Cruise Ship Gate. Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. defended his decision Tuesday to party into the early morning alongside his fellow receivers after the Giants’ victory over Washington. They have been criticized for partying until at least 6 a.m. with Justin Bieber and Trey Songz on Monday, six days before the team’s wild-card game with the Packers.

“We were going to (Florida) to get our minds right,” Beckham told ESPN. “That’s what we we’re doing. I handle my business. I’m a grown man.”

Playoff Watch 2017 will appears Monday through Friday mornings.

SI.com breaks down the NFC Wild Card playoff matchup between the #5 New York Giants and the #4 Green Bay Packers.

GAME 16: Falcons 38, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons win over the Saints

Falcons defense sags late but hangs on vs. Brees

Julio Jones says bye week will be ‘great for me’ with sore toe

GAME 15: Falcons 33, Panthers 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons win over the Panthers

NFL playoffs: Falcons clinch NFC South title

Third-and-21, no problem for Coleman

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Panthers

GAME 14: Falcons 41, 49ers 13

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the 49ers

What Matt Ryan had to say about the win over the 49ers

PHOTOS: Falcons win over the 49ers

GAME 13: Falcons 42, Rams 14

REPORT CARD: Falcons handled their business against woeful Rams

GAME 12: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Chiefs

Falcons still control their playoff destiny

PHOTOS: Falcons have a bad day at the office

Matt Ryan tormented by Berry’s big interceptions

Beasley becomes a double-digit sacker

GAME 11: Falcons 38, Cardinals 19

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the Cardinals

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons keep getting better as they go

Julio Jones gets calls this time

Taylor Gabriel continues scoring streak in win over Cardinals

Coleman scores TD in return from injury

Falcons’ offensive line ‘stepped up to the task’

GAME 10: Eagles 24, Falcons 15

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Eagles

Ryan, offense slowed down to a crawl

Perkins stalls key drive with costly penalty

Defense gets blown of the line of scrimmage

Keanu Neal can expect fine but Falcons’ biggest issue is injuries (Trufant and Tamme)

Falcons go into bye week wrong way — beat up by Eagles

What Dan Quinn had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What Matt Ryan had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What the Falcons had to say after the loss to the Eagles

PHOTOS: Falcons fall to the Eagles

GAME NINE: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ rout of the Bucs

GAME EIGHT: Falcons 33, Packers 32
 

GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Chargers

Dan Quinn’s gamble with house-money backfires

6 penalties ‘unacceptable’ for Falcons offensive line

Philip Rivers confounds Falcons with short passes: ‘He picked us apart’

Matt Ryan’s late-game interception leads to overtime loss

PHOTOS: Chargers rally to beat Falcons

GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Seahawks

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons didn’t win, but they made one guy believe (me)

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud

Matt Ryan’s turnovers were costly

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Seattle slows down Falcons’ running backs Freeman, Coleman

Ryan Schraeder, offensive line rebounds in second half

Julio Jones: ‘It was just a missed call’

What the Falcons had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Richard Sherman non-commital on pass interference non-call

PHOTOS: Falcons at Seahawks in Seattle

GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons upset of Super Bowl champs

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies

What Dan Quinn have to say after the win over Denver

Coleman amassed 163 yards to power the offense

Vic Beasley has breakout game with 3.5 sacks

Kemal Ishmael moved to linebacker, led team in tackles

What the Falcons had to say after the win over the Broncos

Photos: Falcons battle the Broncos

GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ 48-33 win over the Panthers

Tweetcap: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

Old pro Freeney shows new trick with Falcons

Falcons’ rookie Neal holds on vs. Olsen

What Julio Jones had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

Alford battled; Collins to return

Early view in NFC South isn’t what most expected; Falcons on top

GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ 45-32 win over the Saints

Falcons, Saints protest with unity circle before game

REPORT CARD: Falcons earned high marks for drubbing Saints

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What the Falcons had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

Keanu Neal makes strong debut for Falcons

Falcons’ Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home

AJC POWER RANKINGS: Falcons best in NFC South?

GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the Raiders

Trufant’s heads-up play saves the day

Tight ends help to power offense

Weatherspoon plays strong in first start since 2013

Matthews, Schraeder held Mack sack-less

JEFF SCHULTZ: Falcons put on offensive show and win

What Matt Ryan had to say after beating the Raiders

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Raiders

GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Bucs

No sacks for new-look Falcons pass rush

Julio Jones not worried about his ankle injury

Falcons have a case of the “no-huddle” blues

REPORT CARD: Falcons can’t ‘gift’ opponents 17 points

FILM REVIEW: Beasley missing in action

AJC’S NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where are the Falcons?

Hageman charged is domestic violence case

 



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