With only eight teams left in the NFL postseason, the cream has most certainly risen to the top. Only the best teams remain, but this is still football, so no team is perfect. Let’s take a look at each remaining team’s weakness, as we head to the Divisional Round.
It’s hard to start with the best team remaining, but if there’s one area the Ravens may be weak, it’s their receiving corps. Their leading receiver is actually a tight end who has been banged up in recent weeks (Mark Andrews). Their next best receiver, Marquise Brown, only had 584 receiving yards on the entire season and is an undersized rookie. If they find themselves in a shootout, will Lamar Jackson have the weapons to keep up?
The Titans have been on a red-zone efficiency tear since they turned the starting quarterback job over to Ryan Tannehill, but they are due for a regression. Their reliance on a power running game limits their total scoring output capability, as evidenced by their 14 points in a win against New England. Despite Derrick Henry’s success in that game, a more capable opponent would have surely scored more than 14 points.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are incredibly dangerous and have built momentum heading into the postseason, but lingering questions remain about their ability to stop the run. Despite an improving defense, there have been times this season when teams were able to line up and run right at them.
The Texans showed in their drama-filled wildcard game against the Bills that, while they have plenty of heart, they also have plenty of weaknesses. Their well-known deficiency is the lack of a championship-level defense. While a mediocre Bills offense wasn’t able to take full advantage, all other teams remaining will undoubtedly have their way with this defense, which finished the season 27th in points allowed per possession.
San Francisco 49ers
Since 2002 first-time starting quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs are just 11-28 against the spread. Jimmy Garoppolo will make his first playoff start, and while the Niners have been the beasts of the NFC this year, there’s something about playing your first playoff game that clearly ratchets up the degree of difficulty for quarterbacks. Garoppolo has had a fantastic year but has yet to prove anything in the postseason.
The Vikings showed the defensive toughness we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Mike Zimmer’s teams with a defeat of the Saints, and Kirk Cousins finally got over the hump to win a meaningful game, but the Vikings are fighting history. Only 10 teams that participated in the Wild Card round since 1970 have made the Super Bowl. Playing on the road against three elite teams is difficult. This isn’t a direct indictment of the Vikings, but it is a historical trend that’s hard to ignore.
Green Bay Packers
Despite all of his career accolades, Aaron Rodgers is having one of the worst seasons of his career from an efficiency standpoint. The former MVP and Super Bowl champion too often relies on his arm strength to make bad throws off his back leg. Thought to be the strength of this team, he is not actually performing at an elite level.
The Seahawks are probably the most banged-up team remaining. Their offensive line is down multiple starters and their running back corps is decimated. The offense is led by a true star in Russell Wilson, but he is not being put in an ideal position to win.