It wasn't a great Wild Card Weekend on balance, but there were no upsets. That means a loaded elite eight is on the way. These were the best eight squads from September on, and it's going to be fun to watch them battle next week.
We'll dive deep into all the matchups throughout the week on NFL.com and Around the League, but here are three initial thoughts on each game.
Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos: Jan. 12, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
- These teams played in Week 15, but the Ravens have made strides in the interim. Ray Lewis is back, and the defense has proved far more aggressive in wins over the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. Their offensive line looks better with Bryant McKinnie at left tackle. Bernard Pierce is a dangerous offensive threat. Joe Flacco has hit enough big plays. That doesn't mean the Ravens will win, but they should be more competitive.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers: Jan. 12, 8 p.m. ET, Fox
- This is the best matchup of the weekend. It's the first playoff game between two teams we could see winning the Lombardi Trophy with absolutely no hesitation. It's power versus precision. It's two of the best coaching minds in the game.
- The 49ers' vaunted defense gave up a ton of points to the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots late in the season. Defensive end Justin Smith is expected back for this game, but the 49ers can't match Green Bay's weapons. This smells like a shootout, like the 49ers' divisional-round game against the New Orleans Saintslast year.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons: Jan. 13, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots: Jan. 13, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
- The Patriotsdestroyed the Texans on "Monday Night Football" in December, but it's hard to imagine that happening again. Houston's defense remains a quality unit with the pieces to slow down New England. The larger question is if Matt Schaub and the Texans' offense can take advantage of the holes in the Patriots' secondary.
- The Patriots did not enter the playoffs necessarily playing their best, with sloppy efforts against the 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars. They will be healthier, though, than they have been all season. It's the ninth home divisional-round game for the Patriots in the last 12 seasons, which is ridiculous. The Jets game was the only loss. There's not a lot of reason to think this will be the second.