NFL Playoffs Power Rankings: Top seeds get their first tests
After enjoying first-round byes, the fun begins for the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles and Vikings.
Now the real fun begins.
After a Wild Card round that saw the division champions from both the AFC and NFC West lose, the top two seeds in each conference enter the fray this week.
The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers enjoyed first-round byes in the AFC while the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings were the top seeds in the NFC. The Eagles, playing without injured quarterback Carson Wentz, have had a week to try to fix the offense. Philadelphia did have the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and may need a defensive score to keep pace with the Atlanta Falcons, who have won four of their last five.
The Jacksonville Jaguars won a defensive slugfest over the Buffalo Bills and the NFL's top-ranked defense picked off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times on October 8. The two teams meet again in Pittsburgh, a day after the Patriots play host to the upset-minded Tennessee Titans.
In what might be a defacto NFC championship game, the Vikings play host to the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Omnisport’s NFL playoffs power rankings
1. New England Patriots (13-3): The Patriots are rested and probably angry after having to dispute an ESPN report of turmoil within the organisation. An angry Tom Brady is usually at his best.
2. Minnesota Vikings (13-3): Minnesota's top-ranked defense will be tested right out of the gate by the high-powered Saints.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3): Antonio Brown is back, meaning the Steelers have their full complement of weapons.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3): Philadelphia's defense might have to carry the load with Foles running the offense.
5. New Orleans Saints (12-5): After completing a three-game sweep of the Carolina Panthers, the Saints head north to the site of Super Bowl LII to take on the Vikings.
6. Atlanta Falcons (11-6): The Falcons need three road wins to get to the Super Bowl. They took care of business in Los Angeles and are favoured to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) : It was an ugly win against the Bills and now the Jaguars will try to repeat their dominant Week 5 win at Pittsburgh.
8. Tennessee Titans (10-7): Following a remarkable comeback in Kansas City, the Titans will need a titanic effort to upset the Patriots.