You weren’t alone if at the beginning of the season you predicted the Green Bay Packers and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers would finish first place in the NFC.
Different story if you thought the Tennessee Titans would sit atop the AFC standings – especially if you made that prediction after Derrick Henry went down with a foot injury midway through the season. In fact, few outside the Titans locker room believed the team would contend for the AFC's top spot in the back half of the season but Mike Vrabel’s group went 4-1 down the stretch to clinch the bye.
The other dozen playoff teams don’t have the luxury of rest this weekend, which turns out is a great thing for fans.
The AFC is in the spotlight Saturday with the Raiders visiting the Bengals and the Patriots travelling to Buffalo to face the Bills for the third time since early December.
Sunday features NFC matchups between the Eagles and Buccaneers plus 49ers-Cowboys and is capped off with Steelers-Chiefs. A playoff Monday nighter between NFC West rivals Rams and Cardinals will tie a bow on wild-card weekend.
Before the action kicks off, let’s take a gander at where the contending teams sit in our wild-card weekend power rankings and check each team's confidence levels.
There’s bound to a decent amount of agreement between spots 1-4 and again from 11-14... but sandwiched in the middle? Pure chaos.
1. Green Bay Packers
Don’t read too much into that Week 18 loss to the Lions. Green Bay had already locked up the top spot and now they head into the bye as a team getting healthier. Specifically, having left tackle David Bakhtiari back in time for the playoffs is a massive bonus. -- MJ
2. Kansas City Chiefs
While a banged-up Tyreek Hill is cause for concern, past playoff success is still the best indicator of what to expect from this squad. A rematch with the Steelers, who they dominated in Week 16 without Travis Kelce and with minimal production from Hill, should serve as an added confidence boost going into this weekend. -- ES
3. Tennessee Titans
That the Titans fought their way into the AFC's top spot without their best weapon in Derrick Henry is scary. That Henry will return, well rested, followed this weekend's bye? Terrifying. -- ES
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs maintain a strong position here mostly for two reasons: they are the defending champs and Tom Brady is coming off a career-high in passing yards and his most passing touchdowns since 2007. Although heavy favourites at home against the Eagles, overcoming all the injuries to key starters is going to be the biggest obstacle for Tampa in the playoffs. -- MJ
5. Los Angeles Rams
The connection from Matt Stafford to Cooper Kupp has been exceptional this season, but are the Rams good enough in the trenches on both sides of the ball to go on a deep run? They lost at home to the Cardinals earlier this season. Will that be in the back of their minds?-- MJ
6. San Francisco 49ers
Is there a more dangerous playmaker than Deebo Samuel right now? The 49ers have gone 8-3 down the stretch and play a physical brand of football meant for the post-season. With Kyle Shanahan calling plays, Jimmy G limiting mistakes and the offence going through Samuel and George Kittle, San Fran might just be your dark horse Super Bowl contender. -- MJ
7. Cincinnati Bengals
If you were among the early- and mid-season doubters, you're certainly not alone. If you're still doubting Joe Burrow & Co., consider this: -- ES
8. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo's defence put on a show in the season finale against the Jets, but questions about their inconsistent offence remain. -- ES
9. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are one of a handful of teams capable of posting 50-plus points, however they’ve had an easy schedule since the end of November and face a rolling Niners squad. -- MJ
10. New England Patriots
In Bill Belichick's first trip to the playoffs as a wild card entry with New England, it's only fitting that he should meet a familiar foe in Buffalo. As temperatures drop, expectations for a defensive battle -- exactly what BB wants -- heat up. -- ES
11. Las Vegas Raiders
After that thrilling Sunday night theatre against the Chargers to close out the regular season, they'd be excused for fading into the post-season background with a quick out. But considering the obstacles overcome by this club, it's their resilience that should bring the most confidence. That, and Maxx Crosby of course. -- ES
12. Arizona Cardinals
It’s probably a good thing the Cardinals are playing on the road considering they were an NFL-best 8-1 outside of Arizona, but they went a shaky 4-6 after that excellent 7-0 start to the year. -- MJ
13. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger's tenure in Pittsburgh lives to see another day, but defence will be the big story should the Steelers have a shot at advancing beyond Kansas City. T.J. Watt can make or break this game. -- ES
14. Philadelphia Eagles
Philly probably would’ve preferred a style matchup with the Rams, but instead they travel to Tampa with a 6-3 record to face the banged-up defending champions. Seeing what Jalen Hurts can do in the post-season could potentially inform the Eagles front office of how to proceed in the off-season. -- MJ