The New England Patriots are playing the best football of any of the teams that have made it to the playoffs, so they deserve to be in the No. 1 spot. The Pittsburgh Steelers are capable of beating them based on the solid personnel they have on both sides of the ball. The NFC’s best team appears to be the Falcons, but the Saints already proved they are capable of beating them.
They played well against the visiting St. Louis Rams in the season finale, but the Seattle Seahawks are clearly the worst team to make the playoffs in a long time. There’s no reason to believe coach Pete Carroll's team is capable of beating the visiting Saints this week.
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While the Colts have won four games in a row, one doesn't get the sense they're a strong playoff team. Sure, Indy has Peyton Manning, but the Colts have weaknesses on defense that can be exploited.
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Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs had little to play for against the Raiders on Sunday, so it's no surprise they looked flat on both sides of the ball. This week, though, they face the Ravens, who mirror the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles-led power running game.
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The Eagles are very banged up, so coach Andy Reid was correct in his decision to rest most of Philadelphia's starters on Sunday. The Eagles had a great game plan to limit Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the teams' first meeting this season, but Philly has lost some key defensive players since that Week 1 matchup.
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Green Bay Packers
The Packers surprisingly struggled offensively against the Bears last week, but the playoffs are a different situation. With Aaron Rodgers under center, Green Bay matches up well against a struggling Eagles secondary.
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New York Jets
The Jets must get back to their power running game if they're to advance to the next round. Putting the ball in the hands of inconsistent second-year QB Mark Sanchez isn't such a good idea at this point. But at least Sanchez can draw on his experience of playing the Colts in last year’s AFC Championship Game.
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The Ravens still lack a downfield passing game. But at least they have gotten back to their power running game with Ray Rice. They will need to lean on him more if they want to advance in the playoffs.
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Who would've ever expected to see the day that Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz would have a balanced scheme between run and pass? Well, that’s exactly what he has done with the Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler. And don’t overlook Chicago's much-improved defense.
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New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and the Saints might not be as good as they were at this point last season, they are certainly capable of beating any team in the NFC. Their recent injuries at various positions could be a problem in terms of depth.
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Though quarterback Matt Ryan has been among the league's top performers, the Falcons are probably the most well-rounded team in the NFC, with few weaknesses on either side of the ball. The Saints and Packers are both equipped to beat the Falcons at home, however.
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With strong safety Troy Polamalu back, the Steelers looked dominant in a 41-9 win against the host Cleveland Browns. The Steelers might be the one team in the AFC capable of beating the Patriots.
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New England Patriots
Tom Brady and the Patriots closed the season with eight wins in a row, so they appear to be peaking at the right time. But the Steelers might present the biggest matchup problems for New England.