4 Most Dangerous Teams Left in Playoffs After Wild Card Weekend
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After Wild Card Weekend, we're down to the final four in each conference.
So it's only fitting that we take a look at the four most dangerous teams in the league right now. Some teams didn't play last week, but enter their postseason with momentum. Other teams will look to build on a victory in the Wild Card Round.
Perhaps the most compelling matchup in the divisional round will be between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers—two teams capable of making it to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Let's take a look at the four most dangerous teams in football.
4. San Francisco 49ers
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As the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the 49ers didn't have to play in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. But still, they're undoubtedly one of the most dangerous teams in football.
The defense has struggled without defensive end Justin Smith, but he's fully expected to be back this week against the Packers. Smith may not be at full strength, but his presence will be vital in controlling the line of scrimmage against a leaky Green Bay offensive line.
Colin Kaepernick has added another dimension to this team at quarterback, and Michael Crabtree has taken his game to the next level over the past five games.
If the 49ers can get past the Packers this weekend, they're a good bet to get to Super Bowl XLVII out of the NFC.
3. New England Patriots
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The Patriots are another team that sat out the Wild Card Round but are undoubtedly a favorite to get to the Super Bowl.
While the NFC is wide open between the four remaining teams, the AFC seems like a collision course between Tom Brady's Patriots and Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. The Patriots won the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season, but Manning is playing much better at this point of the season.
Much like the Green Bay Packers in the NFC, the Patriots are getting healthy at the right time. Adding a healthy Rob Gronkowski to a dangerous offense could be enough to carry this team through the AFC and to the Super Bowl.
New England hosts the Houston Texans on Sunday. The winner of that game will face either the Broncos or the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.
2. Green Bay Packers
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The Packers are quietly one of the most interesting stories in the league right now. They've endured a plethora of injuries and were the victims in the infamous early-season "Fail Mary" in Seattle.
And in early January, the Packers and Seahawks look like two of the best teams in the NFC, possibly on a collision course to the NFC Championship.
Aaron Rodgers threw 39 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the regular season. He's arguably the best quarterback in football. And now with a healthy receiving corps, the Packers have what may be the most explosive offense in the league.
Charles Woodson is back on the field for the Packers, giving them a veteran leader in a much-improved secondary. Right now, it looks like the winner of the Packers-49ers game would be the favorite to make it to New Orleans.
1. Denver Broncos
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The Denver Broncos earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in Week 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs. And as a result, the Broncos were resting this weekend while the Baltimore Ravens took the field against the Indianapolis Colts.
But despite not playing this past weekend, the Broncos may be the most dangerous team in football.
This team's recipe for success is simple. Peyton Manning, a four-time NFL MVP, builds a lead along with wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
And once the Broncos get ahead, the combination of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil rushing the passer frustrates opposing offenses, as does the strong play of cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Chris Harris.
On paper, Denver looks like the far superior team to Baltimore. So in all likelihood, it will be Peyton Manning against Tom Brady in the AFC Championship in two weeks.
And the Broncos are an extremely dangerous team right now.