AFC Playoffs Q&A: Rested, or rusty?

It's also a bit scary because of how Welker makes his living. He has been the most dominant slot receiver in football over the past seven years but that also means he's susceptible to considerable pounding, game in and game out. That same fearlessness that allows Welker to make plays over the middle also means he's one decent hit away from being lost for the remainder of the postseason. The Broncos don't lack for other weapons to go to -- including wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas -- but Welker is still the underneath weapon that takes so much pressure off Manning. His absence was noticeable in Denver's 27-20 loss to San Diego on Dec. 12. The Broncos will feel his loss even more should he get dinged again.

6. Can anybody stop Hilton? That would've been a surprising question before this postseason began. Now it's one that every team left in the playoffs should be asking.

Hilton just produced one of the best performances ever by a receiver in a playoff game, as he had 13 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City. Granted, most of that damage came after the Chiefs lost Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers to a concussion, but Hilton has matured. The second-year wideout is coming off a season in which he set career highs in catches (82) and yards (1,083) and he's quietly filled the void left by injured Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Hilton always had the speed and the savvy to be a formidable second option at receiver. Now he has the confidence and desire to be a legitimate go-to guy for Andrew Luck. In other words, expect the big plays to continue.

7. Is LeGarrette Blount New England's secret weapon? Blount shouldn't be much of a secret any longer, not after how he finished the regular season. The fourth-year running back set a team record with 334 total yards (189 rushing and 145 on kick returns) in a 34-20 win over Buffalo.

He also has proven to be quite the coup for a New England team that grabbed him as soon as his brief career in Tampa Bay flamed out last season. Blount has rushed for 772 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns, all while splitting time in a crowded backfield rotation that included Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden. Even with all that competition, Blount has emerged as the Patriots' steadiest backfield threat, as he has been the team's leading rusher over the past five games. Look for that trend to continue in the playoffs. The Colts ranked 26th against the run this season and the Patriots need to balance an offense that relies heavily on Brady's brilliance.

8. Can the Chargers keep winning without Ryan Mathews playing a prominent role? One of the major surprises in San Diego's win over Cincinnati was the noticeable absence of Matthews in the second half. After rushing for a career-high 1,255 yards during the season -- and averaging 23 carries over his team's previous six games -- Mathews received only 13 rushing attempts against the Bengals. Televised reports said Mathews wasn't hindered by an ankle injury that had bothered him earlier in the week, so somebody has some explaining to do.

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