Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; A Green Bay Packers fan holds a sign prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers of the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
And then there were eight.
This weekend, the championship dreams for four NFL teams came crashing down. The Chiefs, Eagles, Bengals and Packers now have the offseason to look forward to instead of another game this week. However, the remaining teams offer some interesting matchups.
Here are the Divisional Round power rankings!
Dec 29, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) high-fives fans following a 29-7 victory against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Seahawks: They’re still at the top of my list. Not only are they an excellent team, but they’ll face a very beatable New Orleans Saints team at home. Despite the Saints having Drew Brees and a strong defense, Seattle should be able to make fairly short work of them. It will be interesting to see if the NFC Championship will feature two teams from the NFC West.
Dec 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) walks off the field after setting the NFL single season passing yardage record against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos won 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos: As long as nobody can continue to stop their offensive onslaught, they will be tough to beat. They face the surprising San Diego Chargers, who made the Bengals look like a joke in the second half of their Wild Card match up. Unfortunately for the Chargers, Andy Dalton isn’t the same quarterback as Peyton Manning.
Dec 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson (95) reacts after a sack against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers defeated the Falcons 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Panthers: There’s not much to say about the Panthers. They can win with their play on either side of the ball on any week. Their defense doesn’t always get the recognition that they deserve with Cam Newton eating up most of the headlines. Sadly, the Panthers will face the San Francisco 49ers this week, and as we saw in Green Bay, you can never count them out.
Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium. Colts defeated the Chiefs 45-44. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis Colts: That’s right, I have the Colts above the Patriots. I haven’t checked a lot of the other power rankings, but I may be the only one who thinks that Indy has the second best chance of dispatching New England in the AFC. Andrew Luck looks like the real deal at quarterback and the defense makes just enough plays to keep them in the games.
Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) runs with the ball past Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House (31) in the second quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers: They just won a rough game on the road in Green Bay. It was a game that the 49ers shouldn’t have had to have been on the road for in the first place, but that San Fran defense and Colin Kaepernick’s arms and legs were enough to get past the always unpredictable, but always dangerous Packers. No team will want to face them in the playoffs.
Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) signals his teammates at the line of scrimmage during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots: It’s hard putting any team led by Tom Brady this low on the list, but I have to. The rest of these teams above the Patriots have that combination of offense and defense that is going to be very tough to stop. New England always seems to find a way to win, but they will struggle to do that against these surprising Colts.
Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) exits the field after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 to win AFC wild card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
San Diego Chargers: For a team that has taken advantage of every opportunity they’ve gotten the last 3 weeks, they’ll need more than good fortune to knock off the heavily favored squad from Denver. Even if the “good” Philip Rivers shows up, I’m not sure anyone in their right minds can believe that they will upset the Broncos.
Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints: Not only is it a terrible matchup, but it’s a hostile environment. The Seahawks offense doesn’t usually struggle, even against a tough defense like the Saints is. But on the flip side of the ball, the Saints will face a Seattle defense that has been stingy all year and might not even let them get comfortable on the road.