If a lower-seeded NFL playoff team is to win the Super Bowl, it's imperative that it builds some much-needed momentum.
The Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will be among the favorites to lift the Lombardi Trophy. A loss in Week 17 won't do much to dampen expectations.
However, it can often be a Wild Card team or unheralded division winner that can provide the excitement come playoff time. A loss, though, hurts these teams much more.
Here's three teams that will greatly benefit from a win in Week 17.
The Cincinnati Bengals team that will meet the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday isn't the same team that played in the opening week of the season. Cincinnati were thoroughly outplayed, losing, 44-13.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Bengals. At one point they were 3-5, before they won six of their last seven.
Cincinnati is a much more balanced team than last season. The little playoff experience that second-year players Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have will also be invaluable.
In addition, BenJarvus Green-Ellis hasn't been elite, but he's been more reliable than Cedric Benson was last year. He's benefited from much better play from the offensive line.
A win over Baltimore would be huge toward making the team believe it could get all the way to New Orleans.
It was in 2005 that the Bengals under the stewardship of Carson Palmer were one of the more scintillating teams in the league. The offense might not be as thrilling, but this is a team that can make a major impression in the postseason.
There isn't a hotter team in the league right now than the Seattle Seahawks. They have averaged 50 points a game over the last three weeks while giving up only 10.
Seattle hasn't been great on the road, only going 3-5 on the season, but that seems almost irrelevant at this stage.
If there's a time for someone to hit their peak, it's right now. No one in the NFL will want to play the Seahawks in the playoffs.
The St. Louis Rams will be tough competition in Week 17. They won't be able to stop Seattle, though, especially considering that the Seahawks lost, 19-13, in the teams' earlier meeting.
A rookie quarterback has never led his team to the Super Bowl, but Russell Wilson isn't the catalyst for Seattle's offense.
The Seahawks' passing attack isn't the reason the team is 10-5 going into the last week. Marshawn Lynch is the biggest key offensively, and as long as Wilson plays steady ball, Seattle has a shot at the Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts are in all likelihood not going to win the Super Bowl. There are simply too many flaws in the way of beating all the teams that would be put in front of them.
Andrew Luck has been a little too turnover prone as well. He's thrown 18 interceptions to his 21 touchdowns. Playoff football is going to be a completely different beast to that of the regular season.
Considering all the issues during the season, though, getting to the playoffs is enough of an accomplishment.
Indianapolis is already locked in with the fifth seed in the playoffs. With a win over the Houston Texans, the Colts have the opportunity to beat one of the best teams in the AFC. That would give the team the sense of belief that a first-round exit is not the team's only option.
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