Each of the 2015 NFL playoff teams have shown very distinct "personality traits" this season, so let's take a look at how these teams represent themselves this postseason.
#1 New England Patriots - The Familiar Face
Tom Brady? Check. Bill Belichick? Check. It must be playoff time. They never seem to go away and they'll always be there in the end. This may very well be one of the stronger teams the Pats have fielded in recent playoffs and it would be foolish to write them off in the AFC title chase. Most importantly, they've got homefield, and the mental edge over Peyton Manning.
#2 Denver Broncos - The Hunted
For the third consecutive season with Peyton Manning, the Broncos are unsurprisingly one of the AFC's top two seeds. Last year, the Broncos rode the #1 seed all the way to the Super Bowl by utilizing homefield advantage. This year though, the Patriots have that advantage, and that could be devastating to Denver's chances of repeating as AFC Champions. This team is no longer the hunter, they are the hunted, and unfortunately for the Broncos, every team in the AFC field presents a challenge that Denver may not be ready to overcome.
#3 Pittsburgh Steelers - The Returning Threat
Just when the AFC field thought that they would finally be rid of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they returned in 2014 with a potent and renewed philosophy. While the aged defense has regressed to slightly above average, the offense, led by the resurgent Ben Roethisberger, has retooled their offensive line and receiving corps. The biggest key has been breakout star Le'Veon Bell and his devastating rushing threat. This is an offense the likes of which Mike Tomlin has never had, and this could be problematic for the rest of the playoff field.
#4 Indianapolis Colts - The Bridesmaid
Once again, Andrew Luck and the Colts are back in the playoffs, and once again they should advance past the Wild Card round thanks to the efforts of their dynamic quarterback. The problem for Luck and the Colts is that once again, they are likely to face their kryptonite in Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Divisional round. Not a bad season/postseason for Indy, but they've got to find a little more to crack the top two in the AFC.
#5 Cincinnati Bengals - The Choke-Artists
Can you honestly trust Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton in the Playoffs? Frankly, they've done nothing in the postseason over the past few years, and they've got nothing but pedigree to contend with. Their solid running game is their only saving grace, and they will need it to be perfect to have a chance at controlling games. This is clearly the AFC's weakest team in the field, and they should provide little resistance to the Colts in Indy.
#6 Baltimore Ravens - The Dark Horse
The Ravens may be only two seasons removed from a Super Bowl title, but this is a very different team from that veteran-laced unit. These Ravens are quite dangerous in their own right though. Should they escape the Wild Card round with a victory, they will be very problematic for either of the top seeds in the AFC. With John Harbaugh on the sidelines, and Joe Flacco under center, you just can't count out the Ravens. Write them off at your own peril.
#1 Seattle Seahawks - The Favorite
What's not to like about the Seahawks? They've got the NFL's #1 defense, the NFL's #1 running game, a franchise quarterback, a freakishly talented and physical secondary, and, most importantly, homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs. Few have gone into Seattle and come out unscathed over the past few seasons. This may once again be Seattle's time, but they've got to battle overconfidence and renewed expectations now that the playoffs have started. Remember, the last defending champion to even win a single playoff game the following year were the 2005 New England Patriots. Uneasy lies the crown for defending Super Bowl Champions.
#2 Green Bay Packers - The One Man Show
Another year, another chance for Aaron Rodgers to prove his place among the great quarterbacks of this era. He continues to roll along with a middle-of-the-road defense and a nationally anonymous receiving corps, and with the right matchup, the Packers will roll along in the playoffs. The problem for Green Bay is if their playoff road leads right into Seattle they will get crushed. Packer football is built to obliterate defensively deficient teams and wilt against defensively superior teams.
#3 Dallas Cowboys - The Surprise
Well, well, well, the Dallas Cowboys finally figured it out. They decided to invest in the offensive line who protects their multi-million dollar investment in Tony Romo. They took pressure off of Romo by utilizing their underutilized superstar in DeMarco Murray. They got their horrific defense of 2013 right in the sweet spot of where it needs to be to succeed in 2014 (19th overall). The Cowboys have been one of the biggest surprises of 2014 and they have the potential to be a big surprise in these 2015 Playoffs.
#4 Carolina Panthers - The Loser
This team reached from the depths of the NFC South and grabbed the (br)ass ring to win the division title at the losing record of 7-8-1. For this, most teams would be rewarded with a beating at the hands of a "real" playoff team the following week. Not so much in the Panthers' case. Not only does Carolina get the obligatory home playoff game for the division champ, but they will face the weakest team in the 2015 playoff field. Those are the breaks for the lucky losers. God I hate the Carolina Panthers.
#5 Arizona Cardinals - The Worst
They have one of the very best coaches in the NFC field and good defensive players, and that's it. This may be the worst playoff team the NFL has seen in quite some time. Yeah, worse than the 2010 Seahawks and this year's Panthers (their playoff opponent). This team would actually be a season away from contending for a Super Bowl if they had a solid quarterback, and one not named Carson Palmer.
#6 Detroit Lions - The Lions
Hey Lions, welcome to the Playoffs! Well, that was a fun little trip, hope you enjoyed, bye now. Detroit blew their opportunity to change their fate last week in Green Bay. Once again, the Lions proved they are "The Lions" and despite having the NFL's #2 defense, they'll once again have nothing to show for it. One and done.
This playoff field truly has a vast array of personality traits, and that may make this postseason more unpredictable than many predict. Favorites may fall and underdogs may rise, and that's the fun of the NFL playoffs. Here we go, let the playoffs begin. Happy New Year Who Dat Nation!