The Seattle Seahawks are the best team in the National Football League with two games left to play in a season. Stop me if you have heard this one before. Experts, and also many NFL observers, are already punching Seattle's ticket to the Super Bowl considering all of the circumstances surrounding the 2015 NFC Championship Game, and those people may very well be proven to be correct when all is said and done. If there is one thing that we learned on Sunday afternoon, however, it is that nobody should be counting out a certain banged up quarterback who has the goods to win when on one good leg.
What is often referred to as the best weekend of the NFL calendar year did not disappoint this time around. The first of two AFC Divisional Playoffs showdowns was a postseason game for the ages, one that will be talked about for years to come. Two of the best January quarterbacks in the NFL today battled back and forth on Saturday evening, and the only shame for the neutral fan with nothing riding on the contest was that the game had to come to an end. It will be hard for the final three match-ups left on the schedule to exceed what the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots accomplished on January 10th.
A pretender was exposed just as everybody expected that team to be. The best young quarterback in the NFL once again proved himself to be that man; and no, he does not play in the AFC South. My votes for No. 1 and No. 2 in Most Valuable Player voting came up big when their teams needed them to make big-time throws. Just as noteworthy as were the outcomes of the games was that the referees were put front and center in front of national television audiences due to controversial and questionable decisions. The NFL has to take some time in the offseason to at least clear up certain rules, because I still can't tell you whether or not Dez Bryant caught that ball.
10 The Vanquished:
9 Carolina Panthers
The best breakdown I have seen of the Carolina Panthers since their loss to the Seattle Seahawks was that Carolina has a head coach and a quarterback, and that is about it. Those who have been hitting out at Cam Newton since the beginning of the season have to remember that Newton hasn't been healthy since the summer months. Newton can take a team to the playoffs and beyond with his abilities, but he can only do so much alone. Build a top-tier offense, one with a better offensive line and another wide receiver to match Kelvin Benjamin, and the Panthers can be special.
8 Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was, as has been the case throughout his career, #BigGameJoe for the majority of three quarters against the New England Patriots. He then curiously threw his worst pass of the campaign, an unnecessary deep ball that was picked off and one that killed what could have been a game-winning drive for the Ravens. Flacco infuriates some within the Baltimore fan base because of his inconsistent play from September through the end of the holiday season. The Ravens have a special quarterback so long as they can qualify for the postseason, and everybody needs to remember that.
7 Dallas Cowboys
Call it karma. Call it bad luck. Call it awful officiating. Fans of the Dallas Cowboys will say that Dez Bryant had full control of the football before he stretched toward the goalline on the biggest play of Sunday afternoon's game. Those who support the Green Bay Packers will point out that the ball clearly moved upon hitting the ground. Members of the Detroit Lions faithful will claim that justice was served in the Cowboys being bounced out of the playoffs because of a controversial decision made by the refs. One thing we can all agree on: That was one heckuva football game.
6 Denver Broncos
Whether or not it is really over is not yet known, but it has been an honor and an absolute joy to watch Peyton Manning play his entire NFL career. The greatest regular season quarterback in the history of the league once again came up short in a playoff game, adding fuel to the fire of those stories that age and also the wear and tear that comes with playing 17 regular seasons have all caught up with the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback. Manning is, as expected, not saying whether or not he will return for the 2015 season. He has earned the right to take his time in making that decision.
5 The Remaining:
4 Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is, to steal from a certain evil boxer from legendary film Rocky IV, like a piece of iron. He is also dealing with a leg injury that will not be healed by next Sunday, and Rodgers is on the verge of playing against what is currently the most menacing defense in all of the NFL. Expecting Rodgers to go out west and once again be unstoppable against the Seahawks would be a massive ask for any quarterback in the league. Rodgers has the goods to surprise the football world once more, but he is, after all, only human.
3 Indianapolis Colts
There is no longer any doubt about the matter. Indianapolis now belongs to Andrew Luck, who could be four quarters away from playing in his first ever Super Bowl game. Just one week after he and the Colts went out to Denver and defeated Peyton Manning and the Broncos, Luck will be tasked with knocking Tom Brady off at Foxboro. Waiting for Luck, were he to accomplish that mission, will be either Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Talk about your Murderers Row of quarterbacks. One must give credit to the defense of the Colts, a unit that may have sent Peyton Manning into retirement.
2 New England Patriots
Tom Brady will let you know when he is ready to stop being a dominant NFL quarterback, thank you very much. Brady put the New England Patriots on his back with the game on the line and delivered the strike that made all of the difference against the Baltimore Ravens, and the Pats will be home favorites to hold serve and return to the Super Bowl. You may remember that Brady's arm failed him one year ago. That game occurred in Denver and not at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots have been unbeatable at home in games that have mattered this season.
1 Seattle Seahawks
Does anybody out there actually have an issue with the Seahawks being named the best team in the league and king of all NFL power rankings heading into Championship Sunday? No? Didn't think so. It is not news that the defense of the Seahawks is worthy of winning another championship. Quarterback Russell Wilson has elevated his game to another level since a year ago, and he was pretty darn good in January 2014. Andrew Luck is great, a player that any general manager would love to have on his roster. However, it is time that everybody starts to put Wilson and Luck in the same tier of quarterbacks.