We’re through the “amuse bouche” phase of the NFL Playoffs with Super Wild Card Weekend in the books, and honestly … we didn’t learn a ton. Outside of the Cowboys losing, it was all chalk, and the weekend was more about weeding out the teams who got to say “we made the playoffs,” but really had no business being in the postseason to begin with (looking at you Steelers and Eagles).
Now we can look more closely at the teams left. The chance of a wild upset that could influence the Super Bowl is largely removed, and you could make a compelling case for any of the eight teams left to make a run and potentially hoist the Lombardi. Of course, we know not all teams are created equal — and we’re still fairly early in the postseason process. So let’s look at the teams left, and rank their chances.
The elements that makes the NFC most compelling this season are the categories the remaining teams fall in. We have the favorite in Green Bay, two teams following a similar blueprint that has a history of working with the Buccaneers and Rams, then the 49ers who are an agent of chaos in an otherwise predictable playoff slate.
The Packers have been the class of the NFC since their Week 1 shocker against the Saints. Everything continues to click for Green Bay on the field, with Aaron Rodgers’ self-destruction off the gridiron being the only blemish on an otherwise spotless season. Obviously they’re going to be the favorite to make the Super Bowl based on status alone, and the only thing that could ruin this is some sort of implosion.
The Buccaneers and Rams are really interesting cases. Both are completely in “win now” mode, with Tampa Bay setting the blueprint last season for taking aging players and propping open the window with boat loads of cash. Initially it seemed Los Angeles was doing some minor retooling with their QB change to Matthew Stafford, but this gave way to major in-season acquisitions like Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller, who have elevated the team into a juggernaut.
In isolation the Rams have a better roster top to bottom, but they don’t have Tom Brady.
Last, but not…