We’re down to the Elite Eight in the NFL after a Wild Card Weekend that turned out to be pretty…wild!
The Packers watched as the Buccaneers, Rams and 49ers joined them in the NFC Divisional Round, while the AFC champion Titans enjoyed their bye week by seeing what AFC wild-card winners Chiefs, Bills and Bengals are capable of in a post-season setting.
Divisional round action begins Saturday with Bengals-Titans and 49ers-Packers before Rams-Buccaneers and Bills-Chiefs enter the spotlight Sunday.
So, which teams have the most momentum heading into the conference semifinals?
1. Green Bay Packers
The Packers are rested and ready to book a third consecutive trip to the NFC Championship. Several key 49ers sustained injuries on Saturday, as the Packers keep getting healthier with left tackle David Bakhtiari and centre Josh Myers both back. This is exactly why you want the bye. Keep in mind, Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 against the 49ers in playoffs, including a loss in the NFC Championship two seasons ago in which the Packers' defence allowed 285 rushing yards and four TDs. Is this the year Rodgers and Green Bay take down the 49ers when it matters most? -- MJ
2. Buffalo Bills
Talk about getting hot at the right time. We wondered which Bills team would show up against the Patriots Saturday night -- the one with the pass-happy offence? The run game that's been gaining steam? The star-studded secondary? -- and it turns out, we got all three at their very best. If Saturday's beatdown in Buffalo is any indication (seven TDs in seven possessions, no punts, no fourth downs, and one of the greatest interceptions we've ever seen) we've got ourselves a team that knows exactly how talented it is. -- ES
3. Kansas City Chiefs
We call it Wild Card Weekend and Patrick Mahomes calls it just another Sunday of football dominance. With the team's early-season hiccups now in the distant past, this club is firing on all cylinders once again -- even without starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Mahomes' 404 passing yards against Pittsburgh was his best measure in his post-season career, and his five touchdown passes tied a personal best in January. -- ES
4. Tennessee Titans
The Derrick Henry-less Titans fought their way into the No. 1 seed, and it's now up to King Henry to take them the rest of the way.
What a comeback story that would be. -- ES
5. Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, the team’s star wide receivers plus defensive leader Aaron Donald get most of the headlines, but the return of running back Cam Akers shouldn’t be overlooked. Akers was L.A.’s projected starting RB prior to tearing an Achilles tendon before the season. Well, Akers is back to form a nice compliment to Sony Michel. His presence makes up for Darrell Henderson Jr.’s season-ending knee injury. The defence held Arizona to 183 yards of offence and forced two interceptions on Monday and similar success against Tampa will get them to the NFC Championship. -- MJ
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady and the defending champions met little resistance from the Eagles. Tampa has a balanced offensive attack coupled with a stout defence but concerning injuries to right tackle Tristan Wirfs and centre Ryan Jensen could leave the Bucs in an unfavourable position going up against the Rams this upcoming weekend. Brady was sacked four times on Sunday after only being sacked twice in the previous month. Leonard Fournette returning won’t be as meaningful if the o-line is significantly compromised. -- MJ
7. Cincinnati Bengals
We talk a lot about how Patrick Mahomes so swiftly and completely turned around the Kansas City Chiefs' offence, taking an intriguing group of offensive weapons and bringing them to life and powering what's looking like it could be a dynasty. Considering how Joe Burrow has changed the fortunes in Cincinnati in just his second season in the league, might we soon be describing him in a similar way? -- ES
8. San Francisco 49ers
Remember how incredible the 49ers looked on their opening drive against the Cowboys? That’s why, regardless of this power rankings, you cannot write off San Francisco against Grren Bay. When they are rolling, they are capable of outmuscling pretty much any team. The big concern for the 49ers heading into their matchup with Green Bay is the health status of Nick Bosa (concussion), Fred Warner (ankle) and Jimmy Garoppolo (sprained shoulder in throwing arm). Kyle Shanahan’s decision-making late in important games and San Fran’s propensity to take untimely penalties also leaves much to be desired. -- MJ