The NFL regular season came to an end Sunday (Dec. 28), and the 12 teams that will be competing for a chance to play in Super Bowl XLIX have been decided.
In the AFC, the No. 1 New England Patriots (12-4) and No. 2 Denver Broncos (12-4) both claimed a first round bye. As the for the NFC, the defending Super Bowl champs No. 1 Seattle Seahawks (12-4) and No. 2 Green Bay Packers (12-4) will get first round byes.
— NFL (@nfl) December 29, 2014
The playoff schedule for Wild Card Weekend starts Saturday (Jan. 3) at 4:35 p.m. ET with the No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at No. 4 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1). Then at 8:15 p.m. ET the No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (10-6) are at the No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5).
Then action continues on Sunday (Jan. 4) as the No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) take on the No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at 1 p.m. ET. Thereafter, the No. 6 Detroit Lions (11-5) will face the No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (12-4) at 4:40 p.m. ET.
The playoff picture for the 2014-15 is one of the most exciting in recent years and for good reason. And every team are Super Bowl contenders.
Starting with the first round bye teams, not only are the Patriots and Seahawks favored to play each other in the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks are defending champs. Then you have Tom Brady and the Pats. Every team fears playing the Patriots, having only missed the playoffs twice in the last 14 seasons and winning three Super Bowls. As for star quarterbacks, the other two teams have Broncos’ Peyton Manning and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Both of whom have set records this season. Manning is now the all-time leader in touchdown passes and Rodgers has set numerous milestones of his own.
As for the wild-card berths, the Cardinals will try to keep the ball rolling after recently losing QB Carson Palmer. The Cards have had one of their best seasons in recent memory and have a good chance of taking down the Panthers. Cam Newton may have been in that back fracturing auto accident earlier this month, but after a 34-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers may go on attack. The Ravens are still a reminder of the controversies among their former running back, Ray Rice, who was released for video footage of him punching his wife in the face and knocking her out cold. The Ravens will be playing the Steelers who have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has had some remarkable games this season.
The Super Bowl dark horse Bengals who are led by QB Andy Dalton and their coach who famously just weeks ago called Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel a “midget,” will have their defensive hands full of Colts’ Andrew Luck. The former Stanford standout, who has been playing extremely well, is determined to fill the shoes of former Colts’ QB Peyton Manning. One of the most exciting games to watch is the Lions at Cowboys. No other teams have been scrutinized more for their lack of winning. Matthew Stafford and Megatron are determined to link up against Tony Romo and his star tight end Jason Witten.
If you are still searching for a New Year’s resolution, not missing an NFL playoff game this coming weekend may be a good commitment.