Matt Ludtke/Associated Press
Minnesota Vikings (11-5, 1st in NFC North)
The Minnesota Vikings managed to win the NFC North for the first time since 2009, when Brett Favre was quarterback and Percy Harvin was Offensive Rookie of the Year.
This year's Vikings team might not carry the hype the 2009 edition did, but it is a dangerous outfit. Minnesota has a smothering defense that ranked fifth in points allowed (18.9 per game) and an offense that does enough (ranked 16th, with an average of 22.8 points per game) to complement it.
That offense is a physical, grinding unit led by the league's rushing leader (1,485 yards), Adrian Peterson. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is careful with the football and effective enough under center that opposing defenses cannot simply focus on stopping the run game. Rookie gem Stefon Diggs provides enough firepower to give Minnesota some quick-strike capability.
The Vikings come into the playoffs with a little momentum, having won their final three games, including the season finale against the rival Packers.
Seattle Seahawks (10-6, 2nd in NFC West)
The Seattle Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFC heading into the postseason. They won six of their last seven contests and have watched quarterback Russell Wilson make the transformation from opportunistic game manager to lethal gunslinger.
Wilson, who has become the cornerstone of the Seattle offense, threw for 4,024 yards with 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in the regular season. He finished with a whopping passer rating of 110.1.
Wilson isn't the only player to emerge as an offensive star down the stretch, though. Receiver Doug Baldwin (1,069 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns) has quickly become one of the league's most dangerous pass-catchers.
Let's not forget about the Seattle defense, which is still one of the league's best. It finished the regular season ranked first in points allowed (17.3 per game) and second in yardage (291.8 yards per game allowed).
Washington Redskins (9-7, 1st in NFC East)
Plenty of folks are likely to knock the Washington Redskins for slipping into the postseason with an NFC East title. The division was weak, certainly, but Washington can't be overlooked.
Behind the leadership of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the offense has solidified as a dangerous group. Weapons such as receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, tight end Jordan Reed and running back Alfred Morris give Cousins the tools he needs to do damage on the field. Washington finished the regular season ranked 10th in scoring (24.3 points per game).
The Washington defense might not have a lot of star power, but it is an efficient group that does enough most of the time to keep the team in the game. Washington was ranked 17th in scoring defense, with an average of 23.7 points per game allowed.
Washington's biggest defensive asset is its pass rush, which is rated ninth in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
Green Bay Packers (10-6, 2nd in NFC North)
It has been a down year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but this is still a team that shouldn't be taken lightly. Though Rodgers hasn't been his usual self, he has still completed 60.7 percent of his passes and has been smart with the ball (31 touchdowns to just eight interceptions).
When Rodgers is on, Green Bay can beat any opponent.
The team also benefits from a defensive unit that is a bit underrated. The defense finished the season ranked 12th in points allowed (20.2 per game) and produced 43 sacks on the year.
However, the Packers aren't coming into the postseason with positive momentum; Green Bay dropped six of its final 10 games and backed into the playoffs after a 6-0 start to the season.