And then there were 8. After a weekend of playoff action, we're starting to get an idea of who could really make a run at hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Glendale, Arizona in a few weeks. So, who are the favorites now that the road to Arizona is a little bit clearer?
AFC: New England Patriots: Obviously. I've said it repeatedly in the last couple of weeks, and I'll say it again: I don't think anyone can come into Gillette Stadium and win against the 2014/15 Pats. The Pats defense is much improved than in years past, and they've got more (and healthier) weapons on offense - certainly more than last year when they lost to Denver. They also didn't have a healthy Rob Gronkowski, which will make a huge difference this time around for the Pats. Assuming favorites win out and we get another Brady-Manning bowl in the AFC Championship, I don't see Denver pulling a repeat of last year's game and beating the Patriots on our turf. We'll have to see, though - Peyton Manning is something of an expert in one-and-done's in the playoffs.
NFC: Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers: Both teams were impressive after shaky starts to their season, securing the #1 and #2 seeds respectively. I see them both winning their games in the divisional round and squaring off in the NFC Championship game. This game is likely going to come down to Aaron Rodgers & the Packers offense against the Legion of Boom and the CenturyLink crowd. Not easy, but if anyone can go in there and win, Aaron Rodgers can.
There are still 2 more weeks of football to be played before the Super Bowl in Arizona, but I see the Patriots in Arizona against either the Seahawks or a rematch against the Packers. I could be wrong, but that's how I see the rest of the playoffs shaping up.