Published: Jan. 5, 2018 at 10:26 a.m.
Updated: Jan. 5, 2018 at 05:04 p.m.

Wild Card Weekend to Super Bowl LII? New Orleans Saints have best chance

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The NFL playoffs kick off with a Wild Card Round that features these four matchups: Titans at Chiefs, Falcons at Rams, Bills at Jaguars, Panthers at Saints. Even if a team advances this weekend, there are four others with a first-round bye (New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota) that will be tough to get past on the way to Super Bowl LII in February.

Of the eight teams playing on Wild Card Weekend, which has the best chance of making an appearance in Minneapolis?

As underdogs, Falcons can soar through NFC
The Atlanta Falcons have the best chance at making an appearance in the Super Bowl because they have the experience of getting there, having done so just last season. This time, though, they have the luxury of being underdogs, which will allow them to play free and loose in the postseason. The Falcons struggled with a Super Bowl hangover during the regular season and many gave up on them -- this will be the first time they'll be able to play without worrying about the burden of expectations.
Chiefs have beaten New England at Gillette before ... and they'll do it again
The New England Patriots are the best team in the league, and there's only one team that scares them: the Kansas City Chiefs. Look back to Week 1, when Andy Reid's Chiefs stunned the football world in beating the defending Super Bowl champs at Gillette Stadium. When K.C. is clicking, this team is hard to beat.
Experience leads Saints through NFC to Super Bowl LII
For me, it's a close race between the Rams and Saints. Both teams are good in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. The Rams might be ranked higher statistically, but I wouldn't trade that for experience at this point in the season. I'm taking the Saints.
Youthful Rams are heating up at the right time
Los Angeles is hot heading into the playoffs. Since the Rams lost to the Eagles in Week 14, they've been dominant with a statement win over Seattle and a division-clinching win over Tennessee. (Yeah, I don't care about the Week 17 loss, when they rested key players.) Todd Gurley is on fire, finishing the regular season with more than 2,000 scrimmage yards, Jared Goff has improved immensely under Sean McVay and Wade Phillips' defense is flying around. This team is primed for a run.
Balanced Saints poised for deep postseason run
I'm taking the New Orleans Saints on this one. They are balanced on offense, and the run game is opening up pass plays for Drew Brees down the field. The offense has traditionally been good under Sean Payton, but it's the defense that has impressed me this season. The pass defense has improved down the stretch and the Saints are tied for seventh in the NFL in sacks (42).
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