It is, as The New Yorker put it so poetically today, “Playoff time!”
Wild Card weekend is just a day away, so you need to bone up on all the teams you somehow managed to never watch all season.
But instead of a 5,000-word analysis on the efficiency of the Bengals offensive line, we put together a brief minimalist’s guide to each time.
It’s exactly what you need to know about the contenders, and nothing more.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: The best team they've beat is Tennessee (eek!), but they have a solid defence that should give them a puncher's chance at an upset (Super Bowl odds: 65/1)
DENVER BRONCOS: Tebow! But seriously, this team has struggled to score points all season, and now their defence has taken a turn for the worse. On the other hand, Tebow! (50/1)
HOUSTON TEXANS: They were one of the five best teams in football before their QB Matt Schaub got hurt, but now they're just a grind-it-out defensive team that lacks offensive punch (40/1)
DETROIT LIONS: Matt Stafford has returned to form after a rough patch in the middle of the year, but their defence is too awful for them to be a legit contender (40/1)
ATLANTA FALCONS: They do everything slightly above average, but nothing spectacularly. The talent is there, but the dominance has been absent this season (35/1)
NEW YORK GIANTS: The ultimate wild card. They can beat anyone and lose to anyone, with a volatile pass rush and sometimes-there running game (18/1)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: The best defensive team in the playoffs, but the most limited offensive team in the NFC with big questions at QB and a lack of perimeter weapons (11/1)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Injuries are the only thing holding them back from being the most dangerous team in the AFC. Big Ben is hobbled, and their starting safety, running back, and centre are all likely out (11/1)
BALTIMORE RAVENS: They're solid in all areas, so it'll come down to which Joe Flacco shows up. Good Joe, and they have a shot at a title. Bad Joe, and they could get bounced early (15/2)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: They're definitely the Buzz Team in the NFL right now, with Drew Brees shattering every passing record in sight. But can they win on grass? Can they slow down Green Bay at all? We'll see (9/2)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: They've been equal parts brilliant and frustrating, driving down the field like a machine one day and spotting Miami a 17-point lead the next. They can score with anyone, but can be scored on at will (4/1)
GREEN BAY PACKERS: The defending champs have offensive line issues and might have peaked too early. But they're still the most talented team, and they're rightfully the pre-Playoff favourites (9/5)
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