NFL Playoffs Reset: What each of the eight teams can expect

Will Steelers be able to match playoff success against Chiefs? (1:11)

Tom Waddle previews the Steelers' matchup against the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. (1:11)

And there you have it. The NFL's 2016 wild-card playoff round is over, four more teams are home for the offseason and it's on to the divisional round.

Eight teams remain in contention for the Lombardi trophy. You know the drill. Four of them will emerge from games on Jan. 14-15 and play for the conference championships on Jan. 22. Two will advance to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

So while we have a moment, let's reset the 2016 playoff field.

Saturday, Jan. 14 games

No. 3 Seattle Seahawks at No. 2 Atlanta Falcons

Time/TV: 4:35 p.m. ET, Fox

Seahawks' reason for optimism: The Seahawks have moved on to the divisional playoff round for the fifth consecutive season. They are no strangers to what looms at the Georgia Dome. They've already defeated the Falcons once this season, a 26-24 outcome in Week 6 at CenturyLink Field, and we all know how effective they can be in the postseason when their running game gets moving. Thomas Rawls' 161-yard outburst Saturday night should be awfully comforting to Seahawks fans, as is having quarterback Russell Wilson shed his knee brace -- a sign that he is as healthy as he has been all season.

Falcons' reason for optimism: The Falcons are entering the playoffs with the most important postseason ingredient imaginable: an MVP quarterback. Matt Ryan has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in his past four games, and the Falcons' offense has scored at least 28 points in its past six games (and nine of its past 10). Receiver Julio Jones, hobbled by a toe injury even while amassing 1,409 receiving yards, has had an extra week to heal up. The Falcons are primed to be their best on offense in the playoffs.

Seahawks' reason for pessimism: It's one thing to win a wild-card game at home, in a stadium where the franchise has won 10 consecutive postseason games, against a sixth seed that hasn't won a playoff game in a quarter century. The Falcons present a much more formidable opponent. And the Seahawks shouldn't go overboard in celebration over the Lions' six-point effort. Detroit receivers left at least 100 yards of offense on the field via drops on Saturday. The Falcons' elite passing crew isn't likely to provide such favors.

Falcons' reason for pessimism: High-octane offenses often hit roadblocks in the playoffs, where the league's best defenses usually congregate. The Seahawks haven't been the same without injured safety Earl Thomas, but they still have a strong pass rush and a number of playmakers. They sacked Ryan four times, tying his season high, in the teams' Week 6 matchup. Whether the Falcons can win a low(er)-scoring game is up for debate. Their defense allowed an average of 25.4 points per game in the regular season, sixth most in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Seahawks took care of business against an inferior opponent, but there is limited evidence at best that they're capable of an extended postseason run. And we're about to find out if the Falcons can be the relatively rare team to carry over its offensive firepower into the playoffs, or else adjust to a different winning formula.

No. 4 Houston Texans at No. 1 New England Patriots

Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS

Texans' reason for optimism: Quarterback Brock Osweiler looked better Saturday afternoon than he ever has in a Texans uniform, most notably finding receiver DeAndre Hopkins for five receptions on nine targets, including a pretty 38-yard play down the right sideline. Osweiler avoided a turnover for just the fourth start of this season, and he threw for a season-high 119 yards against the Oakland Raiders' blitz. (He owned the NFL's fourth-worst Total QBR against the blitz in the regular season.) If a one-game benching did something to shake Osweiler loose, the Texans have a chance to make more noise. A strong defense with a quarterback who doesn't self-destruct isn't a bad postseason formula.

Patriots' reason for optimism: The Patriots entered the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak and have lost only once this season with Tom Brady at quarterback (Week 10 against the Seahawks). They'll open their title chase by hosting a team that has lost by double digits in all four previous appearances in Gillette Stadium. In the most recent matchup, the Patriots scored 27 points against the Texans' defense with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett behind center. And keep in mind the Texans had defensive lineman J.J. Watt on the field for 50 snaps in that game. Watt is now on injured reserve.

Texans' reason for pessimism: There is no recent historical precedent to suggest the Texans will be competitive next weekend at Gillette Stadium. They were 2-6 on the road during the regular season, and here are the scores for the four games -- all losses -- the Texans have played in New England: 40-7, 42-14, 41-28, 27-0.

Patriots' reason for pessimism: It's difficult to find much to be worried about if you're a Patriots fan. They are healthier than they've ever been for the playoffs in the Bill Belichick era, and Belichick has a way of building up even the most inferior of opponents to avoid letdowns. If there is a reason to worry, it's that Jadeveon Clowney -- the Texans' emerging defensive superstar -- can overwhelm their protection and disrupt Brady in the same way that previous postseason victors have.

Bottom line: The Texans are about to find out what it's like to take on a playoff opponent that has its starting quarterback available. And there won't be many people picking the Patriots to lose this game. The early line favors them by 15.5 points. It'll likely be on to the AFC Championship Game for them.

Sunday, Jan. 15 games

No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs

Time/TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, NBC

Steelers' reason for optimism: The Steelers showed us Sunday what they can do when their three offensive stars -- receiver Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger -- are together in a playoff game. They'll be playing a defense that has limited teams to 19.4 points per game, seventh fewest in the league. But the Chiefs have allowed an average of 121.1 rushing yards per game, seventh most in the league. The numbers, at least, suggest the Steelers have a chance to use Bell to get on top early in an otherwise difficult place to play.

Chiefs' reason for optimism: The Chiefs have so many playmakers that they can win playoff games regardless of how the matchups might set up on paper. The Steelers could dominate them on both sides of the ball, but a Tyreek Hill race to the end zone, a Travis Kelce catch-and-run and/or a special-teams gem from coordinator Dave Toub's group could render it all moot. It's a tremendous advantage in the postseason, where a handful of plays can change the trajectory of history.

Steelers' reason for pessimism: The Steelers have lost two of three games at Arrowhead Stadium since Mike Tomlin was hired as coach in 2007. And as we noted, they could find themselves on the wrong end of a fluky game. And finally, Roethlisberger was wearing a boot on his foot during the postgame news conference, the result of an apparent ankle injury. Roethlisberger is known for his ability to play well through injuries, but it will be a concern worth monitoring in preparation for any opponent.

Chiefs' reason for pessimism: The Chiefs had two home losses in the second half of the season against non-playoff teams that play good defense and have strong running games. Can losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans, both by the score of 19-17, tell us anything about this matchup? You could argue the Steelers are playing better defense than either the Buccaneers or the Titans, and their offense with tailback Bell is more dangerous. And if it comes down to quarterbacks, few would pick Alex Smith over Roethlisberger.

Bottom line: The Chiefs will be the "other" team in all of the discussion leading up to this game. They'll be hard-pressed to beat an opponent that has now won eight consecutive games. And this Steelers team has an AFC Championship Game look to it. After eight consecutive wins, what's one more?

No. 4 Green Bay Packers at No. 1 Dallas Cowboys

Time/TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, Fox

Packers' reason for optimism: Along with the Steelers, the Packers are the hottest team in the playoffs. They've won seven consecutive games, and their offense just put up a season-high 38 points on one of the NFL's top defenses. If the Packers did that to the New York Giants, can you imagine what they might do against the Cowboys? And, most importantly, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been the best player in football during this winning streak. If there is a way to beat a No. 1 seed on the road in the playoffs, it's with a quarterback who can't miss.

Cowboys' reason for optimism: The Cowboys are rested, most notably tailback Ezekiel Elliott. Yes, he's young and strong, but he has also never played a season this long. By the time this game comes along, Elliott will have gone almost a month between playing full games. He'll be fresh to hit a Packers defense that will be sore after a physical game against the Giants. And speaking of the Giants, the Cowboys don't have to play them. They accounted for two of the Cowboys' three losses during the regular season. Finally, it's difficult to imagine the Packers' pass defense staying with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley. The Packers have allowed 269.3 passing yards per game, second most in the NFL.

Packers' reason for pessimism: They got beat up Sunday in beating the Giants. Receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) and running back Ty Montgomery (leg), two key components of their midseason turnaround, both were helped off the field. Nelson did not return. Their pass defense, meanwhile, benefited from some drops by the Giants' receivers Sunday but will face a much stiffer offense in Dallas.

Cowboys' reason for pessimism: As cool and calm as Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott are, the fact remains they are both rookies. The NFL playoffs are different from anything they've experienced. Does that mean they'll succumb to the pressure against the Packers? Not necessarily. It's just something to worry about. Another: There isn't a defense in the NFL that has been able to slow down Rodgers in nearly two months.

Bottom line: This is going to be the game of the year in the NFL, at least to this point. The last team with the ball is going to win. It could go either way.