The power rankings get narrowed from 12 teams to eight after the Bengals, Falcons, Lions, and Steelers were all eliminated in the Wild Card round. Despite the fact that home teams hadn’t been nearly as dominant as they once were in the first round recent years, all four home teams won this past weekend setting up a tasty Divisional weekend. Anyway, here are my rankings of the final eight:
#8: Denver (9-8): I was very impressed with the Broncos’ win over the Steelers but as you can probably guess, I’m still not a believer in Tebow. He played well-enough vs. Pittsburgh and I imagine the Patriots will take him a little more seriously.
#7: Houston (11-6): The Texans made the most of their first-ever playoff game, handling the Bengals last week. Now onto the more serious business of travelling to Baltimore. The Ravens have been kind of a tough team to figure out this year but I don’t see them losing this game.
#6: NY Giants (10-7): The G-Men man-handled the Falcons last week but going to Green Bay will present a much more legitimate challenge. Everybody’s talking about how the Giants won in GB in ’07, how they almost beat GB in ’11, how they’re built to defeat this offense–which makes me think they have no chance.
#5: San Francisco (13-3): In what I think is the game I’m most interested in this weekend, the second-seeded (!) 49ers host their former divisional rival Saints. The ‘Niners have been a very tough team to figure out and I can’t say I’d be surprised if NO went into the Stick and rolled them. Looking forward to seeing what happens.
#4: Baltimore (12-4): See #7.
#3: New England (13-3): The Pats are back in action and looking for their first playoff win since 2007. Let that soak in for a moment. OK. Obviously the question is if Tim Tebow and the Broncos can muster some serious magic to keep the drought going–I really don’t think so, but don’t forget that New England’s defense was rated dead-last in the NFL during the regular season.
#2: New Orleans (14-3): As mentioned, the Saints’ game at San Fran is one I’m really looking forward to this weekend. They showed everything they were capable of against Detroit last week and I’m very curious to see how their offense does when matched up against a big-time defense.
#1: Green Bay (15-1): The Packers play their first significant game in a long time this Sunday against the Giants. The only big question/concern in my head is whether or not there will be rust. I doubt it, though.
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