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Ranking the NFL playoff teams going into wild-card weekend

By in Press Enterprise on January 2, 2018

By Ryan Kartje

After a wild season of ups and downs, redemption and heartbreak, turnarounds and collapses, devastating injuries and breakout stars, the NFL playoffs are finally here. And they are not what we were expecting.

Eight of the 12 teams in these playoffs were not in the field last season. The Rams and Jaguars are hosting home playoff games. The Bills, who tried to tank to start the season, made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Jared Goff is helming the highest-scoring offense in the field, and Case Keenum is the quarterback of the Vegas favorite in the NFC.

How exactly did we get here again?

Anyway, the only safe bet at this point is there will be chaos. Lots of it. The NFC is completely wide open. The AFC seems like a two-team race, but stranger things have happened this season. And I have a feeling we’re about to get pretty weird in the weeks to come.

So let’s try to make some sense of this insane playoff field. Heading into wild card weekend, here’s how we’d rank the contenders:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

They have the best coach and the best quarterback, and the easiest path to a Super Bowl. Same as it ever was. This Patriots’ team might not be one of Bill Belichick’s best, but being the best coach in NFL history, he has constantly figured out how to make it work. The defense began the season as one of the league’s worst, but since the start of October, the Patriots have allowed more than 16 points in a game just twice. And then, of course, there’s Tom Brady and his arsenal of offensive weapons. Bet against the Patriots at your own risk.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Ben Roethlisberger looked done at the midseason mark. Since mid-November, it’s been clear that’s not the case. Big Ben has […]    

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