NFL Playoffs 2014: Teams with Most Momentum After Week 17 Performances

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2013

Dec 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL playoffs are set in stone, and while every lucky team is just happy to make the trip, some enter on a serious wave of momentum that may take down any and all opposition on the way to a Lombardi Trophy.

Momentum is a fickle thing in the NFL. It disappears quickly, but those teams fortunate enough to harness it and ride it can go a long way.

For example, look at a squad like the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that could easily qualify for this list. Chip Kelly's team won seven of its last eight, including a Week 17 game vs. the Dallas Cowboys, to win the NFC East crown and make the playoffs.

Several other teams have impressive similar stories and also pose a major threat in the 2014 postseason.


Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 29:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs for touchdown during the NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens  at Paul Brown Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

By now the NFL world is surely familiar with the Cincinnati Bengals and one of the league's best home-field advantages.

The Bengals went 8-0 at Paul Brown Stadium and have scored 40 or more in four of their last five games in their comfort zone.

This includes a Week 17, 34-17 thrashing of the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. Often considered the weak link, quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 281 yards, two touchdowns and four picks.

Yet, the Bengals won.

Keep in mind this is a Bengals team that has overcome the losses of big names such as Leon Hall and Geno Atkins.

Not impressed? Lance McAlister of 700 WLW has another stat that should raise some eyebrows:

The first team on that list is the one now tasked with traveling across the country to take on the Bengals at home to open the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers will find it difficult to leave the Queen City with a win, especially with the Bengals on a roll.


Indianapolis Colts 

The Indianapolis Colts moved past the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17 courtesy of a 30-10 whipping.

After the big win, coach Chuck Pagano summed up the state of the team best, as captured by the team's official website:

He later told the media, again per the team's site:

Guys caught fire, they kept playing. We had some ups and downs, some great victories and some really bad defeats.  The leadership, the quality of the people in our locker room, the coaches, you just stick to the process.  Never too high, never too low.

Pagano may be on to something. The Colts have now won three straight to close the season. While a victory over the four-win Jaguars is nothing to write home about, it did much to help shake the narrative that the Colts play down to their competition.

More importantly, the Colts have played contenders tough all year and have wins over the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Speaking of those Chiefs, Kansas City will have to make the trip to Indianapolis to open the postseason. These two met recently in Week 16, where the Colts were the visitor and left Arrowhead Stadium with a 23-7 win.

Since then, Indianapolis has built even more momentum, while the Chiefs rested starters and lost in Week 17.


New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 29:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints warms up before his team takes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 29, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints enter the postseason on just a one-game winning streak, but what a win it was.

New Orleans returned to the comforts of home in Week 17 and blew away the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 42-17. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 381 yards and four scores in the rout.

Now the Saints have a date with the aforementioned Eagles, as the Saints' Twitter account illustrated:

While much can be said about how the Saints struggle on the road, a nice tuneup game against Tampa Bay for what is sure to be an offensive showdown gives the Saints incredible momentum. NBC Sports' Cris Collinsworth detailed what fans should expect:

Despite the odds seemingly stacked against the Saints on the road, do not underestimate a team with its back to the wall coming off a dominant showing.


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