Super Bowl 2014: Each Team's Biggest Obstacle in Getting to New York

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Super Bowl 2014: Each Team's Biggest Obstacle in Getting to New York
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes a single player can stand in the way between a team and the Super Bowl. No team has an easy road, and every team will face different challenges throughout the playoffs.

Here is each team's biggest obstacle in making it to MetLife Stadium. 

 

NFC

6. New Orleans Saints

We all know the Saints love playing in the friendly confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but they won’t have that luxury this year. After going 3-8 on the road this year, the Saints will open the playoffs playing in Philadelphia where freezing temperatures are expected according to weather.com.

Bottom line is the Saints will have to become road warriors to have any shot of making it to New York. 

 

5. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers struggle against good rushing defenses. 

In games where Frank Gore has amassed 90 rushing yards, the 49ers are undefeated. However, in losses to Seattle and Carolina, Gore only had 98 yards combined and was kept out of the end zone. It won’t be easy for Gore as the 49ers will have to face one of these teams in the NFC Divisional Round.

In order for the 49ers to repeat as NFC champions, they will have to get the running game going against the better defenses. 

 

4. Green Bay Packers

Harry How/Getty Images

The biggest question mark for the Packers is their defense. We know that Aaron Rodgers can put up the big numbers, but the Packers need to make stops and force turnovers to win ballgames. Clay Matthews is out for at least another week, so the Packers will need fellow linebackers A.J. Hawk and Nick Perry to step up.

If the Packers are to play Cinderella again, they need their defense to help out Rodgers. 

 

3. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles offense has been lighting up the scoreboard virtually every week, but how will it do against the elite defenses of the NFL?

The Eagles will open the playoffs against the Saints, the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL. If the Eagles advance, they will play the Carolina Panthers, who are the second-best defense in the league behind Seattle.

I know Chip Kelly’s offense has shredded NFC East teams, but how effective will it be on the big stage?

 

2. Carolina Panthers

The biggest concern for the Panthers is Cam Newton.

We know about Luke Kuechly and their dominating defense, but the Panthers are going to have to score points to win games. Newton has never played in a playoff game before, so you have got to think that defenses are going to blitz and show him different schemes.

Newton has thrown 10 first-half interceptions on the year compared to just three in the second half. What does this mean? Newton spends most of the first quarter trying to shake out the butterflies.

 

1. Seattle Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks offense was exposed December 22 when its offensive line was dominated by the Arizona Cardinals in a 17-10 loss. Russell Wilson has been sacked 44 times this season, the third most in the NFL.

To get to New York, the Seahawks will have to go through some great NFC defenses along the way. Will their offensive line protect their quarterback and win games in the trenches?

 

AFC

6. San Diego Chargers

To make it to New York, the Chargers need to play well against good rushing defenses. 

Much of the Chargers' success is due to Ryan Mathews and his consistency in the second half of the season. Mathews will have to run through a Bengals defense on Sunday that has only given up six rushing touchdowns all season.

If Mathews can get a rhythm going throughout the playoffs, don’t count out the Chargers. 

  

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

During the first half of the season, the Chiefs did not allow an opposing offense to score more than 17 points. However, due to injuries to Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the Kansas City defense imploded as the Chiefs gave up over 20 points in six of their remaining seven games.

In the Wild Card Round, the Chiefs will rematch the Colts, to whom they allowed 367 yards in Week 16. Which Chiefs defense will show up on Saturday?

 

4. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts rushing defense ranks 26th in NFL after giving up 14 touchdowns during the regular season. It won’t get any easier for the Colts as they face Jamaal Charles and his 1,287 rushing yards.

If the Colts have any dreams of playing ball in February, their defense needs to bottle up the run. 

 

3. Cincinnati Bengals 

Turnovers. That pretty much sums it up right there. 

Andy Dalton has thrown 20 interceptions on the year and had three in last week’s win against the Baltimore Ravens. These turnovers become very costly in the playoffs, so the Red Rifle needs to take care of the football.

If Dalton can limit the picks, the Bengals become a very dangerous team. 

 

 

2. New England Patriots

Randy Moss, where are you?

We all know that Brady has desperately needed a go-to receiver all season, and it is the same story heading into the playoffs.

Will it be Julian Edelman? Danny Amendola? Shane Vereen? The Patriots need one of these guys to step up to get Brady his fourth Super Bowl ring. 

 

1. Denver Broncos

Denver’s pass defense has been terrible all season and is its biggest cause for concern heading into the playoffs. We saw Tom Brady and Andrew Luck scorch the Broncos defense during the regular season, and teams will try to continue to expose this in the playoffs.

The Broncos have had no trouble scoring on offense, but the defensive side of the ball needs to take care of business.  

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