NFL’s elite head to Divisional Round

Aaron Rodgers leads Packers to #1 seed

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Aaron Rodgers leads Packers to #1 seed

It took eighteen weeks, but the NFL regular season has finally come to an end. Some teams ended up in the gutter, while others soared into the playoffs, looking for glory at the finish line. With 272 games having been played, only the best remain in one of the craziest seasons in NFL history.
NFC:
#1 Seed: Green Bay Packers: What else needs to be said about Aaron Rodgers. As controversy comes, he’s one of the most polarizing people in the NFL, but when it comes to pure talent, he is simply put: The best player in the league. Seemingly lined up to win the MVP again, Rodgers has been remarkable during the second-half of this season. 37 Touchdowns to just 4 interceptions is unheard of, but it’s just a basic season for the possible back-to-back Most Valuable Player. With three consecutive seasons of 13 wins, Coach Matt LaFleur also deserves credit for his team’s success. His offense caters directly to Rodgers’ system of preference, leading to an almost unstoppable offense. Wide Receiver Davante Adams has made his presence known on the field, having 123 receptions, 1,553 yards and 11 Touchdowns across his remarkable campaign. Widely touted as a top-3 receiver in the league, Adams hopes to continue his hot-streak heading into the playoffs. One of the real surprises of the season was the Packers’ defense. Commonly their weak point, Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry has put together a great scheme without key players. Cornerback Jaire Alexander and Edge Rusher Za’darius Smith both have missed most of the season, but surprisingly, the Packers have held up. Corner Rasul Douglas, a practice squad journeyman has been quietly one of the best corners in the league, and Linebacker De’vondre Cambpell has emerged as a top-tier outside-linebacker and inside-linebacker combo. Needless to say, the Packers are certainly a team that everybody wants to avoid, especially since they get home-field advantage at Lambeau for the entirety of the playoffs.

#2 Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Coming off a Super Bowl win, the Bucs were favorites heading into this season. Those lofty expectations were met with flying colors, especially in the form of Tom Brady. Turning 44, Brady has been magnificent, and led the Bucs to the second seed in the NFC. Even after Chris Godwin’s torn ACL and Antonio Brown being Antonio Brown, the Bucs offense still looks scary. Wide Receiver Mike Evans and Tight End Rob Gronkowski lead this offense’s aerial attack, and Running Back Ronald Jones leads them on the ground. Combine that with a strong defense, and the Bucs are nothing to sneeze at this year, and could be well on their way back to the Super Bowl.

#4 Seed: Los Angeles Rams: Somehow, this season has been a bit of a disappointment for the Rams. While winning their division and 12 games, Quarterback Matt Stafford hasn’t completely lived up to his hype as their superstar quarterback. However, that hasn’t stopped the Rams from being dangerous. The tandem of Cooper Kupp, who’s had one of the greatest receiving seasons in NFL history, and Odell Beckham Jr., recently cut from the Cleveland Browns, and is now having a career renaissance in LA, seems to be one of the best in the NFL. The defensive side of the ball is headlined by the league’s best defensive lineman, Aaron Donald, and the best cornerback, Jalen Ramsey. Despite the incredible talent they have, the Rams may only have one home postseason game, and coach Sean McVay needs to regain momentum for a late push.

#6 Seed: San Francisco 49ers: Sneaking in with a win versus the Rams, the 49ers have won 4 of their last 5 to just reach the playoffs. Jimmy Garapolo, Nick Bosa and especially Deebo Samuel lead this team, and stunned the football world with a win against the highly touted Dallas Cowboys. When the chips were down, the Niners came out on top, and face the Packers in the postseason yet again.

AFC:
#1 Seed: Tennessee Titans: Even without Derrick Henry, the Titans have secured the number one seed in the AFC. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, despite starting off pretty rocky, has turned it around when the team needed him to, having 7 touchdowns to zero interceptions in his final three games. Coach Mike Vrabel has constructed a team based on holding onto the football, leading the entire league in time of possession, a crucial asset come playoffs. The defense, led by All-Pro Kevin Byard, has been the brightest spot for the Titans, who are top ten in every major defensive statistical category. After Derrick Henry went down with an injury in week 8, the Titans seemed doomed for no playoffs, as said by Michael Irvin, former Cowboys wide receiver, “It’s over”. The Titans came to life, and with Henry back for their divisional matchup against the Bengals, there is no telling what this Titans team can do.

#2 Seed: Kansas City Chiefs: Even as the second seed, many see the Chiefs as favorites to not only return to the Super Bowl, but to win it all. With the best offense left in the playoffs, led by QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, no defense may be able to keep up with all that talent. Not even the Pittsburgh Steelers and Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt could even get in the way of the Chiefs, allowing 42 points. Even the usually weak Chiefs defense has turned it around, playing their best football in three years. In the AFC, they seem to be the team to beat.

#3 Seed: Buffalo Bills: No team had a better weekend than the Bills. Killing their rivals, the New England Patriots, was a pleasant surprise, and the emergence of Josh Allen has been incredible for Super Bowl ambitions. The Bills offense was so good against the Patriots that they never had to settle for anything less than a touchdown, a remarkable feat that may have the Chiefs nervous for next week. The defense was great, headlined by Linebacker Matt Milano and Safety Jordan Poyer, the Bills are riding the hot hand heading into the DIvisional Round.

#4 Seed: Cincinnati Bengals: It took 31 years, but the Cincinnati Bengals have won a playoff game. Joe Burrow (or Joe Shiesty, or Joe Brrrrr) was great in his first appearance, and although there was some officiating controversy, for example the erroneous whistle, the Bengals came away with a win. The defense was nearly perfect in the red zone, as Defensive End Sam Hubbard played one of the best games of his career, and linebacker Germaine Pratt intercepted Raiders QB Derek Carr on the game’s final play. The Bengals, unfortunately have to play the Titans on the road, a tough task, but with recent momentum, they look to go to the AFC Championship game.