In the wake of another slate of NFL games that proved we know nothing, we'll spare you the indignity of having to read how "wild" Wild Card Weekend was -- though, of course, we just made you read that -- and try, once more, to show we know something.
So how do the playoff teams stack up in our special edition of the Power Rankings? With the big teams on byes, we didn't see much movement at the top, but there was plenty of shuffling elsewhere after an eventful bunch of games that also sparked instant reactions from league observers.
Andrew SKILLâ darren rovell (@darrenrovell) January 5, 2014
What a way to kick off the postseason. Beers on me everybodyâ Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 5, 2014
This performance by Andrew Luck reminds me of his father Oliver Luck's performances with Oilers! Just kidding. No resemblance.â John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 5, 2014
There is no doubt that Chiefs-Colts was one of the greatest games in NFL history, if not the most entertaining. So how do we rate Kansas City sans the playoff win? How do we rate Indy sans the shaving cream? See below.
Feel free to share your take on all 12 ... @Harrison_NFL is the place.
Let the dissension commence ...
(Note: Arrows reflect change in standings from last week's Power Rankings.)
Spent Wild Card Weekend in Denver, and among the various people I spoke to, including a former Bronco, everyone seemed to be leery of the prospect of facing Andrew Luck. Why? Yes, the Colts beat the Broncos earlier in the regular season, but the circumstances surrounding that Week 7 matchup were so unique, given that it was Peyton Manning's homecoming of sorts. Not to mention that it was a road game for Denver. The Chargers, now, are a far scarier opponent. They've also beaten the Broncos -- but in Denver -- and, knowing their personnel so well, can run the football right up their horseshoes.
The key heading into the Seahawks' first-round bye was to get rest. The key this week is to not be overconfident. Sure, Seattle handed it to New Orleans the last time these clubs faced off -- but with the way the Saints played in Philly Saturday night, it's safe to say the guys in the visitors' locker room had heard enough about being a weak road team. The feeling here is that Pete Carroll will have his 'Hawks ready to play. We should ask Marshawn Lynch for his thoughts ...
You think the Panthers would rather face the Saints than the 49ers? Tough to say, but this Carolina squad certainly is capable of beating either opponent, even if San Francisco poses a tougher matchup than New Orleans would have. The Panthers' edge rushers are outstanding; Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson combined for six sacks in a Week 17 win over the Falcons. But if you lose contain on Colin Kaepernick, you lose. The San Francisco-Carolina showdown should be such a great ballgame, if only because "Riverboat" Ron Rivera's guys can man up physically with the Niners.
A fantastic Wild Card Weekend was capped off with San Francisco playing Har-ball. Against the Packers, the Niners were physical up front, staying true to their power run game and overall scheme while making Green Bay earn everything. We've said it before and we'll say it forcefully now: Getting a healthy Michael Crabtree back late in the season might prove to be the key development of San Francisco's campaign. This is a different team with Crabtree making plays all over the field. What a freaking stud that guy is.
How do we feel about the Patriots? This doesn't seem like a Super Bowl team -- but then again, what if New England takes care of business at home against Indy while the Chargers hand the Broncos another loss in Denver? We'll hear a lot about "Brady vs. Luck" heading into this weekend's divisional-round faceoff, but the real factor to circle in Colts-Pats is how well New England has been running the football. The Colts caught some luck against the Chiefs last Saturday when Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis went down. #groundgame
The Saints showed everybody something by beating the hot Eagles at the Linc. Of course, advancing past Philly's defense to face the Seattle D (with the 12th Man in the house) is like going from an Oasis concert to a Slayer jam session. The encouraging aspect of Saturday night's win was how effectively New Orleans ran the football in the four-minute offense. Take pressure off Drew Brees and let the offensive line hit some people.
San Diego leapfrogs the Colts on the strength of five straight wins and a defense that has finally started playing. While Indy allowed a badly banged-up Chiefs team to score 44 points at Lucas Oil, the Chargers triumphed on the road after forcing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to make repeated mistakes. The way San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt uses his running backs is a football work of art, and the rotation was outstanding again last weekend. This club needs Ryan Mathews healthy and ready to go -- and Mathews says he will be.
Incredible win Saturday. Everyone was glued to their TV, iPad, mobile device, computer, car radio ... you get the point. Andrew Luck looks like Abe Lincoln right now -- and leads like him, too. When Luck and the Colts face the Patriots this Saturday, the quarterback might want to be a bit more careful with regard to letting fly against a defense that traditionally has thrived on forcing turnovers. Expect Colts running back Donald Brown to be a big factor.
Ugh. Now that was a unpalatable loss. Even days later, it still has to sting Kansas City fans. When you think about it, though, no team in the league could have survived all those injuries without suffering any adverse effects; what happened to the Chiefs on Saturday was nothing short of miserable. At one point, Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith was trying to mount a comeback with Cyrus Gray and Anthony Sherman. Needless to say, the Pro Football Hall of Fame did not request that their cleats be sent to Canton afterward.
Tough defeat to cap off what will go down as an encouraging season in Philadelphia -- at least, until DeSean Jackson demands a new deal. Yes, the Eagles' run defense has had its struggles, but frankly, we didn't see 185 yards from the Saints coming -- and we thought Philly could put up a hair more than 24 points. Eagles fans had to be concerned when their team had trouble with the leaky (geyser-y, in fact) Cowboys defense in Week 17. #nextyear
Close loss on Sunday for the city of Green Bay and its football team, but there is a lot to be proud of regarding this group, thought by many to be doomed in early December (thank you, Lions). All things considered, the Packers had some pretty significant injuries to weather this season, so all their fans in the doldrums can chill out. Alright, that was an admittedly cheesy thing to write -- but oh, we're on a roll. Before we go, we should note that it was easy to respect Aaron Rodgers for shouldering some responsibility.
Big drop for the Bengals, who continue to disappoint their fans with January failures. Three years in a row, this team has struggled as a team. That said, it's becoming more and more difficult for Cincinnati backers to defend the play of their quarterback; Andy Dalton was bad Sunday. Trying to mount a comeback in those rainy conditions wasn't easy -- not that the play-calling made it any easier.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.