With the NFL’s playoff months upon us there is always a lot of discussion among fans about which teams they want to face and who they want to avoid. Now obviously all of that is down to seeding and not at all up for debate. However, it is always a fun discussion. To do this I am looking at where is the most likely location for any games to be played. Therefore, Kansas City and New Orleans are assumed to be playing at home in every game and Philadelphia and the Wildcard teams are assumed to be playing on the road. Without further ado lets get to the rankings
12. Dallas Cowboys
I know they won the NFC East but they have a number of things going against them. First they are coached by Jason Garrett, that is a big enough negative in itself. They also have a very stagnant offence which ebbs and flows on a weekly basis. The Cowboys have been fine on the road but they have definitely looked better at home and in their second game they are definitely going to have to travel.
Having a really strong defence that can be scary for opponents is important and they can control a game that way but they have also been prone to lapses at times. They let an under power Giants score at will on them in Week 17 and they have been shown up by bad offences at times this season.
11. Houston Texans
This ranking almost certainly means they are beating my Patriots in the Divisional round. However, they are a team that simply do not scare me that much. They have won a lot of games while looking awful. That is great but eventually you have to show some talent and that has been far too rare on offence for my liking. They should have a shot in any games they play at home but on the road in any outdoor stadium I will fancy their opposition.
Defensively they will always have a chance but they need a perfect performance from that unit. The offence has too many injuries and the offensive line is dreadful. I have major concerns about this team facing any of the other 12 teams in the postseason.
10. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has looked very stagnant this season and that is a concern to me. Their offence relies so much on the run game and Wilson that if one of those things is not working the game looks ugly. Their defence has been at best tolerable to watch and has gone missing in key spots. They got the nod at 10 for me because of their coach and Wilson running the offence will mean they have a chance against anyone.
9. Indianapolis Colts
I actually think the Colts are really good and I have money on them to win it all. However, the fact they have been playing playoff games for the best part of three months has got to be taking its toll. They are also extremely banged up and are maybe just a couple of injuries away from looking terrible. They rely too much on a handful of offensive players for my liking but I think they are an interesting outside bet to be the AFC Super Bowl representative.
8. Los Angeles Rams
A few weeks ago they would have been my number one, despite losing to the Saints. Then since the bye week they have looked a shell of themselves on offence way too much. Their defence is still incredibly bad and Nick Mullins had his way with them. They will force turnovers but they will also give up points. There is not a single team that will go to Los Angeles in the divisional round and not believe they can win.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are super hot right now. I do have concerns of them going into Chicago but if they get through that I could see them in Atlanta in a month. Nick Foles is working magic and the defensive line is doing so well the poor secondary does not even seem to matter. They need their run game to function and if it does then this could be a really dangerous team, even with three games on the road.
6. Baltimore Ravens
This offence is terrifying for one simple reason. When you do not see something often it is very hard to stop. No matter how good the plans are this offence does not allow for a second of lapses from the defence. For that reason I can see them beating anyone. However, what stops them being top five is that I always feel like their opposition will be in the game late in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile if their defence has a bad quarter they could be blown out of the game extremely quickly. That is a major issue for me.
5. New England Patriots
I was torn where to rank this team. It is far from the most talented Patriots team but they have a lot in their favour. They have a ton of experience in these situations and going to Foxborough and winning will be close to impossible. However, get them out of New England and they are very beatable, having gone 3-5 on the road this season. I have no confidence that they can go to Arrowhead or to Atlanta for the Super Bowl and walk away the winner.
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Their road to the Super Bowl is really hard. Potentially three road games against three very different teams will be tough. However, this might be one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. They can run the ball, pass effectively and play solid defence. They also will not be fazed by playing on the road as they have barely had a home game all season, and they went into Arrowhead and won.
Mistakes by Rivers will be their biggest concern but one thing this team will not do is quit. If we saw the less supported side of LA in the Super Bowl it would not surprise me in the slightest.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
I have concerns over the history of this team in the playoffs. However, Reid has never had the chance to make a mess of someone with the talent of Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs. They will need their run game and to use more common sense with the clock than we have seen in other games this year to make it all the way. The thing that stops me being terrified of them is a defence that any decent offence can hang 30-plus on given the opportunities.
They will need to overcome some major demons in the divisional round and then again if the Patriots come to town in Championship week. However, the skill position talent on this team is absolutely incredible and that is enough to make sure they are top of the AFC for me.
2. Chicago Bears
That defence can win you any game in a heartbeat. Their offence is a major issue but their defence will have them in any game against any team. I worry about them winning back-to-back games on the road. Their offence is built for cold weather and they are likely going to have to play in Los Angeles and then New Orleans. That will be tough for a run first offence but they have a very real shot of being in the NFC championship game.
1. New Orleans Saints
Despite their offensive stagnation recently they are still the most balanced team in the league. They have a really talented defence that has developed over the season. Their offence has incredible skill position players and they cannot remain ineffective for long. They will also essentially be coming off a double bye week after resting their offensive starters in Week 17. If they can shake off the rust in the divisional round they could be borderline unstoppable. I am struggling to envisage a team stopping them lifting the Lombardi in their biggest rivals stadium.
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