Analysis

Spoiler Alert, Divisional Round: Panthers > 'Hawks; Steelers win

Whether you consider it three weeks late or 49 weeks early, the best Christmas gift for that true football fan in your life (and/or in the mirror) has arrived: The NFL Divisional Round.

Last weekend's wild-card games -- or two of 'em -- provided plenty of melodramatic excitement, but make no mistake: This Saturday & Sunday offer 10 stockings' worth of storylines, focused primarily on the eponymous fellas in this Quarterback League.

While adhering to Rocky Balboa's creed -- "Age before beauty" -- we now consider what winning the next three games would do for these field generals:

PEYTON (aka "Papa John Smurf"): A second Lombardi -- combined with most relevant passing records -- would legally bind you to mentioning the Sheriff when talking "Best Ever" ... and maybe vault him past Tom Brady in that conversation if the Broncos knock off the Pats on their way to Santa Clara.

TOM TERRIFIC: In my opinion, he's already No. 1 ... but a fifth ring would salt it away.

CARSON PALMER: A late-stage reckoning for his previous postseasons derailed by injury.

BIG BEN: Whether you like it or not, three rings/four SB appearances in 12 seasons would make him -- at worst -- the third-best QB of the last half-century.

THE KING OF THE NORTH: Especially with what he's had to work with this season, Rodgers would vault into the top three QBs of the Super Bowl era ... with a few prime seasons left to lay claim to the top spot.

ALEX SMITH: The opportunity to ask, "Who's got it better than us, Jim Harbaugh?" (Or maybe he could steal Kirk Cousins' line.)

DANGERUSS: Give the defense and Beast Mode their due, but two rings/three SB appearances in his first four years would be positively Brady-esque.

SUPERMAN: The fun police/dab haters would have to wave the white towel found over the MVP's head a few seasons ago.

WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know how the divisional-round games are gonna turn out.

(3-1 last week, 163-97 on the season)

For the record: I'm setting aside my preseason Super Bowl pick of Chiefs v Seahawks in favor of what my ample gut is telling me.


CHIEFS 20
PATS 23

C. West: 70 yds, TD
R. Gronkowski: 80 yds, TD


PACKERS 17
CARDS 28

GB Off: 3 turnovers
M. Floyd: 115 yds, TD


SEAHAWKS 14
PANTHERS 16

D. Baldwin: 20-yd TD rec
C. Newton: 370 combined pass/rush yds, TD


STEELERS 19
BRONCOS 17

W. Gay: 40-yd TD INT
E. Sanders: 90 yds, TD


Enjoy the Divisional Round! I hope your team wins (unless they're playing my team).

Follow Dave Dameshek on Twitter @Dameshek.

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