The Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs is complete.
Now that the first stage of the postseason is in the books, fans have a better idea of league hierarchy, which is useful for draft purposes and seeing how the league shook out overall.
At the top of the list are those teams that have the Lombardi Trophy in their sights. The bottom is a much more negative picture, but one lined with positivity considering most will get a shot at a top prospect in next year's draft.
Here is how the league stacks up record-wise after the Wild Card Round.
The Ending at the Top
With the Wild Card Round in the books, the top seeds in both conferences are free to emerge from their slumber and pursue a berth in the Super Bowl.
Seattle, the NFC's top seed, will now get a visit from the New Orleans Saints for the second time this year. The first meeting between the two sides was a 34-7 victory in favor of the home team. But, this time around, New Orleans is on a roll after a big win in Philadelphia in the Wild Card Round.
The Saints understand that despite their big win, they are still underdogs anywhere they go because of their well-documented struggles away from home. Tight end Ben Watson put it best, per the Saints' official website:
To win on the road in this league is tough as we saw throughout the regular season. To win a road game in a hostile environment, the cold, in Philadelphia, in the playoffs, it brings great confidence for our team. We know moving forward that it is all road games from here on end. We are going to have to keep winning road games if we want to keep progressing through the playoffs.
A close second in the conference, the Carolina Panthers will host the red hot San Francisco 49ers. Also a rematch, the Panthers hit the road and defeated the 49ers by a 10-9 margin in Week 10.
Flip to the AFC, where Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos have a tough date in their playoff opener against AFC West rival San Diego. The Chargers backed into the playoffs and then took down the Cincinnati Bengals to open their path to the Super Bowl.
That matchup is also a rematch, as the Broncos and Chargers split the season series in divisional play. The most recent contest took place in Denver in Week 15, where Manning and the Broncos were upset by the Chargers, 27-20.
To round out the bunch, the New England Patriots will host the Indianapolis Colts at Foxborough. The Colts are arguably the NFL's hottest topic right now after outscoring the Kansas City Chiefs 35-13 in the second half to win, 45-44.
Given the prestige of the franchises remaining, the final race for the Lombardi Trophy is sure to entertain.
The New Beginnings at the Bottom
Now to the bottom of the standings, where the Houston Texans sit with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Former Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien is the man in charge, and he is getting things started on the right foot as ESPN points out:
Bill O'Brien is the 3rd head coach in Texans history; all 3 have started their Houston tenure with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 3, 2014
There is no better way to usher in a new era than with a shiny new top prospect, although the Texans do say they are open to trading down:
Texans owner Bob McNair is open to trading the number 1 overall pick. http://t.co/LSgoecKJAh— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 3, 2014
While it is positive vibes for other teams near the bottom, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons, there is no such positivity coming out of Washington.
The Redskins hold the NFL's second-worst record and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Former coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin derailed the 2013 season. A trade with the St. Louis Rams to bring RGIII to town in the first place currently has the looks of one of the worst trades in league history.
As the team's Twitter account details, the Redskins have been furiously looking to find a new head coach:
The man who takes over has a tall task ahead to fix the NFC's worst team. The Redskins have a variety of holes on a defense that allowed an average of 29.9 points per game. Offensively, RGIII hit a serious sophomore slump.
While the majority of the teams with the worst records in the bottom five of league standings have eyes set on a new franchise quarterback, Washington already has its signal-caller and must get creative in how it rebuilds without a top pick it earned through a horrible 2013 campaign.