After four thrilling games, the divisional round of the NFL playoffs is set.
The top two teams from both the AFC and NFC will come in off a week's rest, but won't be able to breeze into the conference championship round easily, as each of the Wild Card Round winners come in with a considerable amount of momentum and realistic Super Bowl hopes.
The NFL playoffs are as do-or-die as it gets and January tends to produce the season's best matchups, with everything on the line between some of the league's best teams. Eight teams remain for the two tickets available to New York for the 2014 Super Bowl and spots are getting thinner by the week.
Let's break down the updated playoff bracket along with the outlook of both conferences.
|NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round|
|AFC Divisional Round||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots||Sat., Jan. 11||8:10 p.m.||CBS|
|San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos||Sun., Jan. 12||4:40 p.m.||CBS|
|NFC Divisional Round|
|New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks||Sat., Jan. 11||4:35 p.m.||Fox|
|San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers||Sun., Jan. 12||1:05 p.m.||Fox|
We're only one week into the postseason in the NFC, but it's already down to just two divisions, as things are now controlled by the NFC South and West.
The Saints were able to pull away in the third quarter and overcome a late deficit to kick a game-winning field goal in Philadelphia. New Orleans finally found some success on the road, but will need to build upon that given the upcoming test next weekend.
Drew Brees and company will travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks, who boast a Guinness World Record-holding crowd and dominant 13-3 record.
A late-season loss to the Arizona Cardinals was the team's first at home all season and a week of rest will be a big factor against a Saints team that is still hurting after a tough win.
On the other end of things, Carolina will host the San Francisco 49ers for a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Jim Harbaugh's Niners survived Lambeau Field with a last-second win over Green Bay and they have now won seven straight.
The battle between San Francisco's potent rushing attack, led by Frank Gore, and the stiff Carolina run defense that ranks among the league's best will be a huge indicator of who wins the game.
There's a decent chance that the NFC will be decided in the championship round between two teams that hail from the same division, which would only up the intensity on an already pressure-filled, looming showdown.
The AFC doesn't have to wait until championship weekend to see a potential divisional matchup.
After the Chargers' against-all-odds charge to the playoffs and upset victory in Cincinnati against the Bengals in the Wild Card Round, San Diego will be meeting a familiar foe in the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers got the best of Peyton Manning and Denver on Thursday Night Football to give the Broncos their only home loss of the season. Manning only threw two touchdowns and a pick in that game, well off the pace of his 55-touchdown campaign.
Manning has gone down twice in the postseason to the Chargers in his Colts career and will have to carve up a resurgent San Diego defense in order to get past them this time. Meanwhile, Denver's defense has been suspect and the Chargers boast plenty of offensive weapons.
The winner of that game will get the winner of another enticing matchup that puts the Indianapolis Colts in New England in a playoff matchup that has become a normality this time of the year.
Andrew Luck's late heroics led his team over Kansas City in the Wild Card Round, but the Colts will now have to go on the road in a sure-to-be-frigid Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount have led a potent Patriots offense that could give a questionable Colts defense some issues.
There's a chance we will see Manning and the Broncos against either the Colts or Patriots—either of those matchups would boast an endless amount of huge storylines.
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