NFL Playoff Scenarios 2013-13: Teams That Will Play Like Top Seeds in Week 16

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16:  New offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell of the Baltimore Ravens looks on as quarterback Joe Flacco #5 warms up before the start of the Ravens game against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Great teams rise to the occasion when it matters most.

With the NFL season now at Week 16, that time is now.

Sunday's game will feature a handful of exciting matchups, a few of which will provide teams with the chance to prove themselves. The only teams that are relevant at this point are either in wild-card contention or vying for a first-round bye, so all eyes will on them as they take the field.

While some teams are bound to shrivel under that weight, others will rise to the occasion.

Let's take a look at three teams that will play like top seeds in Week 16.


Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens enjoy one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL and that will help them to overcome a three-game losing streak on Sunday.

The team has now had a little bit of time to adjust to new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. The firing of Cam Cameron certainly came as a surprise, but the aftershock was just as damaging.

Joe Flacco and the Ravens need a win, but the Giants need it more. Too bad for New York, it's 3-4 on the road and M&T Bank Stadium is as daunting as it gets.

Look for Flacco to come more prepared this week as his team seeks an AFC North title. He will be more comfortable in Caldwell's system, especially because it still features him rather than Ray Rice.

Don't expect the Ravens to take two straight home losses lightly. This franchise is proud, and the Giants have their backs against the wall.

Baltimore is still the weakest of the top AFC contenders, but it will look like a top seed on Sunday.


New England Patriots

New England isn't going to be happy, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will feel their wrath on Sunday.

After handing the Houston Texans an embarrassing defeat in Week 14, the San Francisco 49ers nearly returned the favor to Tom Brady's crew on Sunday night. The Patriots managed to make a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback, but the game was lopsided for 2.5 quarters.

Brady won't be happy about throwing two interceptions Sunday night, and he will take his frustration out on the Jags. Jacksonville struggles to attack the quarterback, and giving Brady time to throw never ends well for the other team.

The Patriots are making a push for a first-round bye, and Jacksonville has struggled all season. Expect the Patriots to win this one big, and look for Brady to turn in a huge performance off of last week's disappointing game.


Green Bay Packers

The Packers will clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, and they will look good doing it.

Don't expect this to be an ugly win. It won't be like the Titans' win over the New York Jets Monday night. Green Bay is too skilled for that, and it's more humbled this year than it was last year at this time.

Tennessee has shown some bright spots at times this year, but it's not ready for this team. Because the Packers finished last year's magical regular-season run without a win, they will be hungry to prove themselves this time around.

As long as Aaron Rodgers gets time to throw, this offense is dynamite. A game like this will provide a solid confidence boost for this defense, which is good considering their struggles at times this season.

This one may seem obvious, but the Packers have been vulnerable at times this year. The Titans have nothing to lose and derailing Green Bay's dreams of a first-round bye would be nice, but it's not going to happen.

Green Bay wins big here.