NFL playoff picture: Look out for Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

A quick look at the NFL playoff picture with the wild-card round kicking off Saturday.


No. 6 Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals: This has become the AFC North's greatest grudge match, so it's only fitting these two teams get a third game to decide which one was better this season after splitting two regular-season meetings.

No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs at No. 4 Houston Texans: The Chiefs ended the season as the NFL's hottest team, winning 10 consecutive games. But it still wasn't enough to avoid a trip to play one of the NFL's hottest defenses. Kansas City won in Houston way back in Week 1, but that means nothing now.


No. 1 Denver Broncos: There's no more interesting team in football right now as the Broncos went from perilously clinging to a playoff spot with Brock Osweiler at quarterback to securing the No. 1 seed with Peyton Manning back under center. If the Steelers win, the Broncos will see them in the second round. If Cincinnati wins, the Broncos will get the winner of Houston-Kansas City.

No. 2 New England Patriots: Decimated by injuries, the Patriots get an extra week to recover but they might actually have benefited from dropping to the second seed because it could help them avoid the Steelers. Their divisional playoff opponent will be the Bengals if Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh. If the Steelers knock off the Bengals, the Patriots will host the winner of Kansas City-Houston.


No. 6 Seattle Seahawks at No. 3 Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings played their way into a home game and a better seeding, but that might be something they regret, considering the reward is a matchup against the team that throttled them 38-7 in December at home.

No. 5 Green Bay Packers at No. 4 Washington Redskins: Ending the season with two losses isn't how the Packers wanted to go into the playoffs. But the chance to play Washington instead of Seattle, even if it means going on the road, has to be appealing.


No. 1 Carolina Panthers: After a dominant 15-1 season, the Panthers earned the right to force the NFC's road to the Super Bowl to go through Charlotte. The road will start in the divisional round against Seattle if the Seahawks beat the Vikings. If the Vikings win, the Panthers would play the winner of Green Bay-Washington.

No. 2 Arizona Cardinals: Arizona coach Bruce Arians felt like his team was hit with a dose of reality Sunday against Seattle, but the Cardinals will have an extra week to refocus. The Cardinals probably aren't in a hurry to see the Seahawks again soon, which means it's a good thing the seeding fell how it did. The Cardinals will get Minnesota if the Vikings beat Seattle. If the Vikings lose, the Cardinals get the winner of Green Bay-Washington.