Only one of the top four preseason NFC favorites to win Super Bowl XLV are still alive: the sixth-seeded Green Bay Packers. They were listed as second favorites by Bodog at 12-1 along with the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys.
The New Orleans Saints were the favorite at 10-1. The Philadelphia Eagles were 16-1 and the Giants were 20-1.
The Atlanta Falcons, the top seed in the NFC, were set at 30-1 to win the Super Bowl. The other two remaining teams in tournament - the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks - were 35-1 and 45-1 respectively.
Here is a quick preview of the NFC Divisional contests.....
GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-6) at ATLANTA FALCONS (13-3) (Saturday, FOX, 8:00 PM ET)
The NFC’s top seed, the Falcons, will host the Packers in a rematch of their Week 12 meeting. In that contest, won 20-17 by Atlanta, both quarterbacks posted a 100.0+ passer rating. Matt Ryan (107.9) of the Falcons tied a franchise record by completing 85.7 percent of his passes (24 of 28) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (114.5) passed for 344 yards.
“We’re going to watch two of the young greats that are coming up in this league in Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan,” says NFL Network analyst and Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.
Rodgers tossed three touchdown passes in last week’s 21-16 Wild Card victory at Philadelphia and his seven passing touchdowns are the most ever by a quarterback in his first two playoff games.
“This is playoff football,” says Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. “We feel very good that we’ve played three weeks in a row in a very competitive playoff atmosphere. So that’s what we’re taking into the game. We’re ready to go.”
All-Star Ryan is 20-2 (.909) at home in his career and his 33 wins are tied for the most by a quarterback (Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino) in his first three seasons since the 1970 merger.
“We’ve worked very hard to attain this position,” says Atlanta head coach Mike Smith. “It’s not only the players, but the coaching staff, the support staff and the entire organization. We have started our fifth quarter and we want to make sure we play very effective and efficient ball through the fifth quarter of our season. We’re very excited to be playing at home.”
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-9) at CHICAGO BEARS (11-5) (Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)
Earlier this season, the Seahawks won 23-20 in Chicago. However, the last time these two teams met in the postseason (2006 Divisional), the Bears defeated Seattle 27-24 in overtime.
“The guys know the magnitude of the playoffs and what a good position we’re in,” says Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. “But at the same time, we’ve got to take care of one game at a time and keep executing.”
The Seahawks knocked off the New Orleans Saints last week, becoming the first team in NFL history to beat the defending Super Bowl champions in the postseason after trailing by at least 10 points. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw a franchise playoff record four touchdown passes to lead Seattle to victory.
“I think that our team is starting to come together in some ways that are special,” says Hasselbeck, who has started 10 postseason games for Seattle, tied with Walter Jones for the most in franchise history. “We just beat the world champions and that’s a great feeling.”
“We’re not done yet,” says Seahawks tight end John Carlson, who tied a team postseason record with two TD catches. “We’re happy with the win and excited to be playing another week. It’s a one-game season. If we win, we get to go on again. So we’ve got to be focused.”