The NFL Playoffs: Ranking the 2014 Teams 1-12
Twelve teams, twelve opportunities.
After the Carolina Panthers manhandled the Atlanta Falcons and claimed the NFC’s fourth seed, the teams who would dance in the postseason was set. Except for some positioning by Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, everything was set.
These playoffs could all make us say “Hmm.”
Here is a look at the 12 teams and how I rank them according to chances of making it to Arizona for the Super Bowl.
12. CAROLINA PANTHERS
They got into the playoffs by not only winning their division, but the Panthers have won four in a row. The roller coaster ride is slowing down and the Carolina defense is playing some of its best ball at the right time.
11. BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Ravens made the playoffs as the final seed in the AFC. They need to rededicate themselves to what they do well – play defense and run the football. If Joe Flacco can recapture his magic from two seasons ago, they could get past the first round.
10. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
I am not sold on the Colts. Maybe because they are the quietest of all division winners. Andrew Luck had a great season, but there are still questions with the running game and I am not sold on the defense that will have to play better and tighter than it has.
9. CINCINNATI BENGALS
The Bengals are the AFC’s enigma. The team can look like world beaters on one Sunday and then look lost on others. Andy Dalton could pull a “Joe Flacco” and lead this team past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in Marvin Lewis’ tenure in Cincy.
8. DETROIT LIONS
The Lions defense is bananas. The offense when it is at all cylinders is one of the best in the NFL. They have proved to be a team on the upswing, but lost to Green Bay on the last day of the regular season. If the defense plays like it has, the Lions have a chance to be dangerous.
7. ARIZONA CARDINALS
I am not sure how to feel about the Cardinals. The offense is offensive and the defense is one of the best in the NFL. The play of Ryan Lindley concerns me as well as the running game. The coaching by Bruce Arians gives them this ranking.
6. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
I think the Steelers combination of offense with the passing of Ben Roethlisberger and the running game with Le’Veon Bell may be the best in the NFL right now. The defense is younger and faster than in years past and this could be a team that catches fire and runs through the post season.
5. DENVER BRONCOS
As of late, the Broncos have not looked like the Broncos of old. Peyton Manning is always dangerous. And the defense under Jack Del Rio may be better than people think. The Broncos got a first round bye and will play a home game at Mile High. Still, don’t count against them.
4. GREEN BAY PACKERS
As long as Aaron Rodgers say RELAX, the Packers will be a contender. I am impressed how the team continually puts the foot on the gas and just moves down the field. If the defense can maintain against Seattle and Dallas, they could be Super Bowl bound.
3. DALLAS COWBOYS
Here is a reason Dallas is dangerous. The team was 8-0 on the road this year which includes a trip to London. Look for Dallas to hang around and could be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. If Romo is on, the Cowboys could win it all.
2. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Patriots have quietly gone about their business and wrapped up home field advantage in the playoffs. Is this the season the Pats and Tom Brady get back to the Super Bowl and this time they win the game? The Giants did not make the post season this year.
1. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
The defending Super Bowl champions are peaking at the right time. The defense has been bananas and the offense has a little more push them usual. Russell Wilson is playing some of his best football at the right time of the year.