#8 Carolina Panthers
Why they are ranked last: A banged up Steve Smith will hurt their ability to move the football. It's hard to see them beating a team as good and as well coached as San Francisco twice in one season. If they do get past San Francisco, a trip to Seattle likely awaits.
Why they could make it to New Jersey: Cam Newton can take any game over. Their defense has shown flashes of dominance this season.
#7 New Orleans Saints
Why their season may just be about over: They are playing in Seattle this weekend...enough said.
Why they could make us look foolish: You can't feel comfortable betting against Drew Brees and Sean Payton...or even Rob Ryan and that crazy hair.
#6 Indianapolis Colts
Wait, they were down 38-10 to Alex Smith in the third quarter...how are they here? Exactly. Their magic from last weekend likely won't carry over to New England, especially with Tom Brady picking on their weak secondary.
Why you can't count them out, ever: ANDREW LUCK.
#5 San Diego Chargers
Why this is a crazy-high ranking for them: They were 9-7 and barely snuck into playoffs. Their defense is average. Peyton Manning (and his 55 touchdown passes) is waiting for them this Sunday.
Why this ranking may be too low still: THIS.
#4 San Francisco 49ers
Why not the defending NFC champs? A trip to Seattle likely awaits them and they have not fared well there in recent years.
Why they will defend their NFC title: Great coaching. Great defense. Great running game. Colin Kaepernick is a big play waiting to happen.
#3 Denver Broncos
They aren't the favorite?!? Nope. Look up Peyton Manning's playoff stats, and then, more importantly, look at their defense.
Why we are crazy: Did you watch that offense this season? They are unstoppable. This team learned from its playoff letdown last season.
#2 New England Patriots
Why they could fall short: Their defense is shaky and their offense is beat up. They've lost at home in the playoffs as a heavy favorite in three of the past four seasons.
Why they are the AFC favorite: Brady. Belichick. The inevitable hilarity of having New York and New Jersey packed with New Englanders for two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
#1 Seattle Seahawks
The jinx is on!
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