NFL Playoffs Power Rankings: Top seeds get their first tests

Annette Crawford
January 13, 2018

Using the win rates that fuel our weekly power rankings, which take into account a team's actual record and what its record should be based on points scored and allowed - also known as its Pythagorean win percentage - simulating the playoffs 5,000 times, the New England Patriots and Eagles have the best chances of winning Super Bowl LII.

Teams had to receive a majority of our Insiders' votes to move on to the next round. Pittsburgh's defense wasn't great at stopping the run on the year - allowing 4.4yards per rush attempt, which was 28th in the league. Roethlisberger was intercepted five times in that game and the Steelers will look to establish running back Le'Veon Bell early.

The talk in Pittsburgh has been about avenging that defeat and, with a first-round bye, the Steelers were able to put their feet up and rest last weekend. The game of the week, matching two short quarterbacks. On the season, they had 55 sacks and 7 defensive touchdowns. What isn't debatable is that they will likely lose to the Patriots in Foxboro. And while they probably can't expect to intercept Ben Roethlisberger five times and run two of them back for touchdowns again, Jacksonville has been able to limit nearly every quarterback this season. Can they get a lead and make Pittsburgh have to throw the ball?

While most people favor the Falcons on the road this weekend, Wesseling is of a different opinion.

Wentz's backup, Nick Foles, has struggled and was downright abysmal in a 6-0 loss to the Cowboys in Week 17.

The only team with better odds? "Combine that with a defense that all of a sudden doesn't have any glaring weak spots, and the Falcons are as big a threat as any team in the NFC to run the table". As he previewed the upcoming games,'s Chris Wesseling detailed how the Falcons and Eagles match up with one another and what to expect on Saturday. A quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, who has played in 20 playoff games, the majority of which were in bad weather... orrrrrrrr, Blake Bortles, a Florida guy who went to UCF, has played in Jacksonville, and looked terrible in kinda bad (but not horrible) conditions last week? If the defense can stymie an Atlanta offense that has struggled to score touchdowns as of late (eight during its past six games) and Foles can get the ball into the hands of playmakers Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Jay Ajayi, the Eagles certainly could win. Case Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1. I think it could be.

In what might be a defacto NFC championship game, the Vikings play host to the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium.

An injury to starting left guard Andrus Peat has left the interior of the Saints' offensive line weakened.

The No 1 ranked defense of the Vikings goes up against the No 2 ranked offense of the Saints!

"Having won seven of their last nine games, the Falcons boast a momentum edge as well as a decided advantage under center". It would take a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade to stymie the Patriots. We know it's coming.

It's easy to poke fun at Vikings fans, who cling to a brand of collective fatalism generally reserved for small countries that sit between much bigger ones, but at least they care. Don't overthink this one: the Tom Brady and Belichick era won't end with a Divisional Round loss to the Titans. The Saints went onto win the Super Bowl.

Titans at Patriots: New England 27-12. On offense, it's on Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster if the Pats have a safety hovering over the top of Brown all day.

And when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is under pressure, he is much less effective.

So what does it mean if the Falcons and Vikings win? I don't buy that and even if it were true Julio Jones anyone??? In short, they have an answer for all of the Falcons' challenges. It's considered by many among the worst coaching blunders in sports history. The New York Giants and Buffalo Bills also met in Super Bowl XXV, but the Giants have played in New Jersey since 1976. It just so happens, that's the exact area where Minnesota's "A" gap blitzes are created to attack. They'll also be playing in their home stadium and could have the crowd on their side.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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