After one of the wildest and most unpredictable finishes in the NFL, the playoffs are finally here. The final AFC wild-card spot was clinched by the San Diego Chargers while the NFC North, South and East were all claimed by the Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.
But as difficult as it was to figure out who would ultimately claim playoff spots down the stretch in the NFL, it is equally as complicated to predict which teams will advance out of the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
With the postseason just days away, here is a breakdown of each game in both the AFC and NFC side of the playoffs.
AFC Wild Card
|Home (Seed)||Away (Seed)||Date/Time|
|Cincinnati Bengals (No. 3)||San Diego Chargers (No. 6)||1:05 EST, Sunday, Jan. 5|
|Indianapolis Colts (No. 4)||Kansas City Chiefs (No. 5)||4:35 EST, Saturday, Jan. 4|
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
The AFC playoff picture was one dominated by five teams throughout the season, but it took an unexpected twist with the sixth team that would ultimately get in. Thanks to a missed field goal late in the game and a made field goal of their own in the overtime, the Chargers made it in as the No. 6 seed in the AFC:
But with a defense that ranks 24th overall in the NFL and struggled against a Kansas City Chiefs team that sat many of its starters, including Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith, San Diego will have a tough test against the Cincinnati Bengals.
With an offense that includes Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green, the Bengals wouldn't have trouble exposing the Chargers defense. But what really sets Cincinnati apart is its defense that ranks first in the AFC and is holding opponents to just 19.2 points per game.
If the Bengals can keep Philip Rivers in check, this should be a winnable game before having to face the New England Patriots.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
While these two teams aren't in the same division as one another, they will end up playing each other twice in a home-and-home situation. The Indianapolis Colts ran away with the first meeting back in Week 16, but the Kansas City Chiefs will be looking for revenge when it matters most.
The Chiefs have struggled this season to prove themselves in big-game situations, being viewed as an unlikely team to make the Super Bowl even with an 11-5 record in the regular season. But with a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball, including Charles and a defense with names like Dontari Poe and Tamba Hali, it's easy to see why Kansas City has gotten to this point.
As for the Colts, they are a team that has also been trying to find an identity since the loss of Reggie Wayne for the season. But with Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, it appears Indianapolis is still in good hands. The Colts' official Instagram account took a look at marks both set this season:
While the Chiefs have certainly been one of the most surprising teams this season, making the playoffs after going 2-14 last season, the Colts have the firepower to take them down and will likely be looking at a trip to the divisional round with Luck and Hilton.
NFC Wild Card
|Home (Seed)||Away (Seed)||Time/Date|
|Philadelphia Eagles (No. 3)||New Orleans Saints (No. 6)||8:10 EST, Saturday, Jan. 4|
|Green Bay Packers (No. 4)||San Francisco 49ers (No. 5)||4:40 EST, Sunday, Jan. 5|
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
The New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles possess two of the best offensive attacks in the NFC as a whole. They also have two outstanding quarterbacks who could dictate who ultimately advances out of this game.
On one side stands Drew Brees, who has proven himself over his 13-year NFL career to be one of the best quarterbacks in the game. On the other is Nick Foles, who has only played in 19 games in his NFL career and wasn't even the projected starter coming into the NFL season.
But what Foles lacks in experience he has proven to make up for with talent behind center. After finishing the season with a 118.8 quarterback rating and over 2,500 yards in just 12 games played, Foles also set an NFL record for touchdown-interception ratio, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Nick Foles sets NFL record for best TD-INT ratio in single season (27 TD, 2 INT)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2013
Drew Brees has yet again been sensational for the Saints and has them in the back in the playoffs thanks to his leadership. Brees finished with a 70.5 QBR, which looks at the total value of the quarterback, and a 101.8 quarterback rating.
But the one chink in Brees and the Saints' armor is their ability to perform on the road. At just 3-5, the Saints look like a much different team away from New Orleans this season. In his last two road games, Brees has thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions while the team has lost both games.
Your first of what should be many reminders this week: Drew Brees has never won a road playoff game. #Eagles— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) December 30, 2013
If the Eagles plan to advance, the defense will need to force Brees to break down yet again and allow the NFC's No. 1 offense to flourish in both the running game and passing game.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
Two teams that were both expected to make the playoffs but didn't exactly take the easiest road to get to this point. While the Green Bay Packers experienced the loss of Aaron Rodgers for much of the season due to a collarbone injury, the San Francisco 49ers lost two different pairs of games and started the season 6-4.
But one thing these two teams do have in common is the fact that both are finally healthy. The 49ers started the season without Michael Crabtree, and since his return they have been rolling offensively. As for the Packers, the return of Rodgers and Randall Cobb paid huge dividends on the final play of the regular season for the Packers offense.
Green Bay is a much more lethal team with Rodgers on the field than without him. Therefore, their 8-7-1 record might be deceiving because only eight of those games were played with Rodgers on the field for every snap.
As for the resiliency of his team, Rodgers told Lindsay Jones of USA Today that he was just glad the team was still in the playoff chase when he returned for the final game:
There were a lot of opportunities for us to give up, and we kept believing in each other. I'm proud of these guys and thankful for the opportunity.
The 49ers are carried by a defense that ranks third in the NFL and NFC behind the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers. But with an offense that possesses Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and the aforementioned Crabtree, San Francisco's offense looks just as spectacular as the one that got to the Super Bowl last season.
The difference-maker in this game could very well be which team runs the ball more effectively. But with Gore going against a Green Bay defense that ranks 26th against the rush and 21st against the pass, the 49ers should continue to move forward and get another shot at the Panthers or Seahawks in the divisional round.