Carolina and Baltimore advance to the NFL Divisional Round of the playoffs after winning Wild Card games on Sunday.
Each of the NFL teams still standing has reason to believe that they will win. Every one of them also has a potentially costly flaw that could have them clearing out their lockers.
The Carolina Panthers have dealt with a whole host of injuries over the course of the season. Now, they’re in the postseason and looking at very few injuries for the Wild Card Weekend game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Green Bay Packers do not have many holes in their game as they enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. However, one is their blocking in the kicking game. They allowed more combined blocked field goals, extra point attempts and punts than they had in the previous five seasons combined.
The Carolina Players were lucky to make the playoffs with a record of 7-8-1, but they won the NFC South and they are there. Now, if they defeat the Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card round, then more than Thomas Davis will know what it’s like to notch a playoff victory as a Panther.
The Minnesota Vikings have more confidence and optimism heading into this offseason than they did a year ago. They have two of the most important pieces in place in head coach Mike Zimmer and Teddy Bridgewater. Also, they improved in several areas from the past season. The Vikings have 12 free agents this offseason, but just one opening day starter.
The Green Bay Packers do not have to play this Sunday. That is a good thing as quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be able to get some extra rest before the Packers begin their run toward the Super Bowl. They will host one of three teams in the Divisional Round. Their opponent will be determined by the outcome of the Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys game.
Two defensive-minded teams with sub-par quarterbacks produced the lowest-scoring game of the season last night. The Arizona Cardinals improved to 11-3 without scoring a touchdown, winning in St. Louis 12-6.
The Rams have been especially strong, as they are coming off back-to-back shutouts. While three in a row does not look likely, they could very well hold the visitor to less than two touchdowns.
The St. Louis Rams aren’t necessarily out of the playoff race, but one more loss could get them to that point. The Arizona Cardinals have struggled a little since Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending injury. Now, the two NFC West teams are going to battle it out on “Thursday Night Football” and CBS Sports’ Dan Fouts talked about how important the game is for both.
A win Thursday could put Arizona in the playoffs for the first time in five seasons; the simplest combination involves Dallas and Philadelphia not tying.
Through 48 Super Bowls, no team has played the game at home. The Arizona Cardinals, for so long the laughingstock of the NFL, have their sights set on being the first.