The NFL regular season is in the books, and it's time to unveil our playoff power rankings. - Dan Schneier
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
12. Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians has proven that he will go out swinging -- he will not tailor the offense to factor in Ryan Lindley’s shortcomings. The offense may have a few big plays up its sleeve, but the defense is no longer playing the kind of shutdown ball that they had been earlier in the season.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
11. Carolina Panthers
This Panthers squad does not enter the postseason with a dominant defense like in 2013, but both their defense and offensive line are playing their best football of the season right now. Cam Newton is moving the ball on the ground again, and this puts extra stress on the defensive scheme and game plan.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
10. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens’ offensive line and pass protection situation has deteriorated fast and Joe Flacco is not the type of quarterback who can excel in a muddied pocket. If the Ravens want to go on a run, they will need to lean on their pass rush. They are also best served using the run to open up the pass.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Much like last postseason, the Bengals enter this time of the year as consistent winners in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton will need to prove that he can move the ball through the air at this time of the year, but it still might not be enough to make up for the Bengals’ nonexistent pass rush.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
8. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck enters this postseason without much to work with around him. He operates behind an offense that lost its running identity when Ahmad Bradshaw got hurt. Even worse, his defense lacks the size and physicality to consistently win at the point of the attack. This probably means that it’s time for some Luck magic.
Getty ImagesFrederick Breedon
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
In arguably Ben Roethlisberger’s best regular season, the Steelers boasted a strong roster across the board. The team awaits news on the injury to Le’Veon Bell. Their defense may be exposed if Bell is out and the offense can’t control the clock.
6. Detroit Lions
Key injuries to the offensive line have had a major impact on Matt Stafford’s mechanics and timing. The defense heads into the playoffs noticeably less effective against both the pass and run. However, the potential return of Nick Fairley could spark a defense-heavy postseason run. The Lions caught a break Tuesday, when Ndamukong Suh successfully appealed the suspension that would have kept him out of Sunday's game against the Cowboys.
APCharles Rex Arbogast
5. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning does not look healthy entering this postseason, but the Broncos have established the running game again with a defense that forces punts and turnovers. This Peyton squad might have to advance with defense.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
4. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have done a fine job fixing their run defense, but we’ve seen too many early postseason exits recently at the hands of their pass defense. Aaron Rodgers can only do so much -- Dom Capers’ defense needs to hold up in the intermediate and deep areas of the field.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsBenny Sieu
3. Dallas Cowboys
Defenses have to pick their poison with this Cowboys offense. If you stack the box to stop the running game, Dez Bryant will burn you every time. If you leave it light in the box, the offensive line will run you over. Can the secondary hold up for a four-game run?
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks jettisoned Percy Harvin without finding his replacement, but they enter the postseason with a complete defense, winning experience, a quarterback who makes big plays, and the 12th Man behind them.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
1. New England Patriots
The postseason hasn’t been too kind to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the last decade, but this squad is built differently. Thanks to several key offseason acquisitions, the Patriots can defend the pass really well and they have arguably the best offensive weapon (Rob Gronkowski) on the other side of the ball.