32 teams entered the 2014 NFL season, bust just 12 remain. With the door officially closed on the regular season, a dozen teams enter the heart of winter ready to take home one of the most coveted prizes in all of sport, the Vince Lombardi Trophy. In the National Football Conference, six teams with different stories are set to take the field in hopes of being crowned the next Super Bowl champion.
Earning first round byes are the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks looked all but ready to defend their Super Bowl crown to start the year. A championship hangover loomed over Seattle as the Seahawks began the year with a 3-3 record. However, since Week 7 the Seahawks have gone 9-1 and are certainly retaking their form from a year ago. A similar story took place in the heart of Wisconsin, as the Green Bay Packers didn’t quite get off to a hot start themselves either. After dropping two of their first three matchups, QB Aaron Rodgers told fans to “R-E-L-A-X” and that the Pack would get back on track. Sure enough the former MVP was right, as Green Bay and their high tempo offense proved to be one of the hottest teams in the NFL to end the year.
The NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys will face the Wild Card winning Detroit Lions in Jerry World this upcoming weekend. America’s Team lost defensive juggernaut Sean Lee in training camp and many football experts claimed Dallas would be home to one of the worst defenses in NFL history. However, the Cowboys didn’t let the loss of their star linebacker slow them down. Behind a stellar offensive line, Tony Romo was able to put together one of the greatest seasons of his career as Dallas cruised to a 12-4 record and division title. The Detroit Lions look to be back after a sub-par 7-9 season a year ago. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson are clicking on all cylinders while the D-Town D made their name as the stingiest defense in the NFL.
In arguably the most intriguing first round battle of the playoffs the 7-8-1 NFC South champion Carolina Panthers will host the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams saw incredibly strange years of their own. The Arizona Cardinals jumped out to an early 9-1 record and looked like they may win the Super Bowl at their home stadium in February. However, after a season ending injury to starting quarterback Carson Palmer and then another serious injury to backup Drew Stanton, the Cardinals have been struggling to find a snap taker that will lead them to the Promised Land. The Panthers on the other hand are making a rare NFL postseason appearance with a losing record. No NFC South team finished with a record of .500 or better, but the Panthers seemed to turn it on at the right time to end the year. Cam Newton led Carolina to their first back-to-back playoff appearance in franchise history after bouncing back from an injury sustained from a highway car crash several weeks ago.
From the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and the unlikely postseason contender Carolina Panthers, no team is safe in the playoffs, so be sure to cheer on your favorite NFC team on the road to Super Bowl XLIX as the postseason battle begins. Gear up for the 2014 NFL playoffs and weeks of excitement as the remaining NFC competitors fight for the chance to play in Glendale at the coveted championship.