The playoffs start on Saturday, and the field is pretty interesting this year. In the AFC, we've got a rivalry game with the Baltimore Ravens facing off against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Indianapolis Colts. In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys return to the playoffs for the first time in a few years and face a Detroit Lions team that will be without one of their best pass-rushers, Ndamukong Suh, who is suspended for the 1st round. In the other NFC game, the Arizona Cardinals will face off against the Carolina Panthers.
There are some interesting games, but I will highlight the team playing this weekend I think could make a run at the Super Bowl. AFC - Baltimore Ravens: Let me preface this by saying I don't think that any team, save the Denver Broncos (maybe!) can come into Gillette Stadium and win. However, the Ravens always manage to play the Patriots tough in the playoffs and are capable of doing so again. Their defense is also pretty tough, especially against the run (ranked 4th at 88.3 YPG), while their offense is ranked in the top 15 in the league in both rush yards (8th - 126.8 YPG) and pass yards (13th - 238.7 YPG). I think they'll prove a tricky match up for just about any team if they can get past the Pittsburgh Steelers and can get on a run if they can play their best football. NFC - Dallas Cowboys: They already beat Seattle once on Seattle's turf, which is supposedly impossible. But, before they even think about Seattle, they have to get past a Lions team which is formidable, even without one of it's defensive stars. They still have to contend with Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and Lions defense that is still tough. However, if they do, I think Dallas could make a run. They finally figured out a formula on offense that works - give the ball to DeMarco Murray first and set up the play-action to Dez Bryant, a formula that led Murray to the Cowboys single season rushing record and 12 wins for the Cowboys. If they follow that formula, they'll keep opposing offenses off the field and get on a run.
This is all hypothetical, of course. I said above that I doubt any team can come into Gillette Stadium and win, and I stand by that. Whoever wins in the NFC will have to contend with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, which won't be a cakewalk by any means. So let's not get our hopes up just yet, am I right? There's a lot of football to be played between now and the Super Bowl.