The NFL’s Wild Card Weekend has stirred up the league’s power rankings one more time. Sooner or later, there will be no more rankings, only one champion.
But that’s a different article for a different day.
Now we are left with eight NFL teams who have made it to the divisional round of the playoffs. All, or most, of the usual suspects are here, too.
But where do they fall in the hierarchy of the league?
Take a look at where we rank each of these eight playoff teams as well as the rest of the league following the first round of the playoffs.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
The struggling Kansas City Chiefs have continued to fail to turn the corner despite amassing a solid core. Andy Reid's guidance and a new QB in the offseason should help with those efforts in 2013.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
The Jacksonville Jaguars were competitive down the stretch, but still failed to put together a complete game this season. Maurice Jones-Drew could be back next season, but who is going to be the QB?
30. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
What happened to the Oakland Raiders running game in 2012? Carson Palmer was forced to throw all year, and the results speak for themselves. There are a plethora of question marks across this roster heading into next season.
29. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
Tennessee struggled again defensively in 2012, but did show some positive signs by winning six games. None of those wins came against opponents with a winning record, though.
28. New York Jets (6-10)
If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. The Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez distraction, coupled with injuries and Rex Ryan's switch to Greg McElroy, made it difficult for the Jets to stay afloat in 2012.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
With Andy Reid gone, nearly all of those responsible for the decade-plus success of the Philadelphia Eagles are gone. On a positive note, the Eagles still have some talent on their roster and could bounce back with a fresh boss next season.
26. Detroit Lions (4-12)
Matt Stafford can't do it all himself. Calvin Johnson set the single-season receiving yardage record, but the Detroit Lions won just four games. More balance is needed to revive the franchise's comeback.
25. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Defensively, the Arizona Cardinals boast a staunch defensive pass rush that's helped them cripple opposing passing games. That's about it.
24. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
The youth movement began to pay dividends for the Cleveland Browns in 2012. A coaching change should help breath life into a stale offense that continued to rate near the bottom of the league.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
You aren't going to win many games in the NFL with the league's worst pass defense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were far and above the worst in the league in that department in 2012.
22. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Philip Rivers was on the run for much of the year and didn't handle it very well at all. He finished to throw for more than 4,000 yards for the first time since 2007 and posted the worst QBR of his career (40.6).
21. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Chan Gailey is gone. Perhaps now the Buffalo Bills will make a switch at quarterback and find a way to get the ball into C.J. Spiller's hands?
20. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Ryan Tannehill looked like he could be the guy for the Miami Dolphins at times in 2012. The Fins would be wise to add an offensive weapon or two during the offseason to help him progress next season.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Anything less than a playoff appearance is a disappointment for this franchise. Aging and injuries all over the roster put a hamper on their chances this season. Despite all of that, the Steel Curtain remains intact as one of the best defensive units in the land.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Tony Romo has yet to prove he is capable of stepping up and winning the big games. It's hard for him, though, when his team failed to run the ball effectively for much of the season.
17. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
New Orleans had one of the tougher schedules in the NFL with games against Green Bay, Denver, Atlanta (twice), Dallas, New York Giants, San Francisco and Washington. It also lost to Kansas City in Week 3, too.
16. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
The Panthers took a couple of steps backwards on offense this season in the early running, but got into a groove down the stretch. Winning four straight games to finish the season saved Ron Rivera's job. Let's see if they can carry that momentum into 2013.
15. New York Giants (9-7)
Eli Manning and the New York Giants won't get the opportunity to get hot at the right time this season. This year, their 9-7 record wasn't good enough to limp into the playoffs with.
14. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
The St. Louis Rams had their ups and downs in 2012 but finished by winning four of their last six games, including an overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. Jeff Fischer has this team heading in the right direction.
13. Chicago Bears (10-6)
There isn't a meltdown in recent history that reminds us of what ended in Lovie Smith's ouster in Chicago. After beginning the season 7-1, the Bears lost five of their next six games. Winning their two remaining games meant little, as they lost the playoff tiebreaker to Minnesota and failed to reach the postseason.
12. Minnesota Vikings (10-7)
Adrian Peterson had an MVP-type season after coming off of major offseason surgery. It's too bad that the Minnesota Vikings season ended the way that it did. Peterson couldn't shoulder the weight of his team's entire offense with Christian Ponder sidelined in the playoffs.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
Defense got the Cincinnati Bengals to the postseason, and then their offense exposed them for pretenders when the Houston Texans shut them down. Andy Dalton needs more people to throw to than A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham.
10. Indianapolis Colts (11-6)
Andrew Luck helped turn around a 2-14 team from 2011. His efforts weren't enough, though, as the team's offensive-line struggles were exposed by a resurgent and Ray Lewis-fueled Baltimore defense.
9. Washington Redskins (10-6)
Robert Griffin III is a tremendous athlete and leader for the Washington Redskins. When he's not 100 percent, though, the team is definitely not the same. His running ability opens everything up offensively. When he's hobbled, as he was in the team's playoff loss to Seattle, execution becomes much more difficult.
Surprisingly, the Baltimore Ravens easily dispatched the Indianapolis Colts on Wild Card Weekend. Ray Lewis' return undoubtedly sparked an emotional and physical response for a defense that has been exploited and pushed around at times this season.
Baltimore will travel on the road in the divisional round, though. The team's struggles have mostly come on the road in 2012 and in season's past.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High isn't the place the Ravens want to be playing with their season on the line, either. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos beat up on the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 15.
It wasn't even close, either. Denver's 34-17 victory will be plenty of motivation for the AFC North Division winners.
Will that added motivation be enough to get the better of Manning and make it back to the AFC Championship Game?
The Houston Texans were the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff picture until losing three of their final four games. Losses to New England, Indianapolis and Minnesota down the stretch are definitely concerning for a team that cruised to an 11-1 start.
With the type of football that the Texans play, though, they can play with anyone in the league. If Arian Foster gets going and the offense can play its grinding style, they can keep the game at their desired pace.
Houston struggles when failing to get its running game going. Quick series that result in punts put Houston's defense in a bad position. Sure, the team can rush the passer. The presence and emergence of J.J. Watt speaks for itself.
But the team has been exposed down the field and in its secondary at times this year. That and the team's reliance on the running game are its biggest weaknesses.
The Green Bay Packers are one of the hardest teams to judge in this season's postseason. On one hand, Aaron Rodgers is having another excellent season, and on the other, the team has been up-and-down against tough, physical teams.
Rodgers has been on the run due to changes along his offensive line. His 51 sacks are the most by any quarterback in the NFL. Yes, even more than Philip Rivers (49) and Jay Cutler (38).
Defensively, injuries have forced youngsters to step up all season, and the Pack will definitely be better for it as the playoffs progress. However, if they continue to struggle defending the run, their chances of returning to the Super Bowl will become infinitely less.
San Francisco handled the Green Bay Packers in their season-opening showdown. So much has changed since then, though, as the two prepare to meet in the postseason.
The 49ers are one of the most physically punishing teams in the NFL, posting the fourth-best rush defense in the league. They are also running the ball for over 155 yards per game thanks to their physical offensive line.
Results have been mixed with Colin Kaepernick behind center. The second-year QB took over after a concussion sidelined Alex Smith in Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams.
The playoffs will be the true test to see how far along he is and how far he is capable of leading this team.
The Seattle Seahawks have been the surprise team this season. Russell Wilson hasn't been the catalyst, but he's definitely been a huge contributor to the team's late-season surge.
Seattle won its last five regular-season games before knocking off the Washington Redskins in the Wild Card Round. It wasn't easy for them, either.
The Seahawks showed they can bounce back after falling into a quick 14-0 hole, their biggest deficit of the season. Oh, by the way, their worst loss of the season was a mere seven points to the San Francisco 49ers.
They avenged that loss in dramatic fashion. With their playoff hopes on the line, the Seahawks blew out the new-look 49ers by a 42-13 final score in Week 16.
Atlanta struggles to run the football and the Seahawks are one of the best pass-defending teams in the NFL. The divisional-round game between the two NFC favorites will definitely be an interesting affair.
The Atlanta Falcons are the top-rated team from the NFC for good reason. Matt Ryan has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the past few seasons. He could make the leap to elite status during the postseason by finally getting over his playoff struggles.
Atlanta is going to have its hands full during the postseason, though, despite their regular-season successes. It isn't their fault, but only two of their wins came against teams who made the playoffs.
The biggest question mark for the Falcons is their physicality. They have proven to be capable of putting up points through their prolific passing attack, but can they win the battle in the trenches?
Postseason NFL football requires a balanced and physical game plan that keeps teams guessing. Everyone knows Ryan is going to look down field for Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Can they put forth a complete team effort to achieve Super Bowl glory?
There isn't a hotter team in the NFL right now than the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning is visibly on a mission, it seems, just one season after sitting on the sidelines due to multiple neck surgeries.
"Peyton Manning is imploding on a national stage."
That is the lede from ESPN writer Bill Williamson's brief story on Manning's struggles during the first quarter of the Broncos Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He threw three interceptions in the first quarter.
There was certainly some questions to be asked about Manning's recovery early on this season. If you have any doubts, then the Broncos' 11-game winning streak to finish the season should alleviate some of your concerns.
Manning is one of the hottest QBs in the game, throwing for 37 TDs and nearly 5,000 yards as the leader of the league's fifth-best passing offense (283.4 yards per game).
It's hard to imagine this Broncos team slowing down with Manning on top of his game. Plus, the team's defense is in the top three of the league in both rush (91.1 yards per game allowed) and pass (199.6 yards per game allowed) defense.
New England has emerged as one of the best and well-rounded offensive teams in football. Tom Brady has mastered the team's new no-huddle offense, and it has helped them run the ball like never before.
Teams are struggling to get set and adjust personnel. That has resulted in them guessing, and Brady is making them pay for it.
The Patriots have something working for them in the postseason that no one else does: Tom Brady. There isn't a quarterback in the league who we would rather have behind center for our team in the postseason then Brady. Well, besides Peyton Manning. We'd take him, too.
New England's biggest postseason challenge will be containing big plays through the air. They have done a good job of giving up yards, but not of keeping opponents out of the end zone. Their "bend but not break" style of defense works, as long as Brady and the offense are keeping up their end of the bargain.
It's hard to imagine Brady and the Pats watching from home when the Super Bowl kicks off in New Orleans.