The 2012 NFL playoffs field is set which means we've whittled down the list of potential Super Bowl winners to 12 teams. Of those 12, eight are playing on Wild Card weekend -- four division winners and four Wild Card teams from both the AFC and NFC.
We know the teams with a first round bye -- Packers and 49ers in the NFC and Patriots and Ravens in the AFC -- are the favorites to reach the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. So SB Nation's NFL playoffs roundtable wanted to focus on the teams playing this weekend.
Of the eight teams playing on Wild Card weekend -- Saints, Giants, Falcons and Lions in the NFC and Texans, Broncos, Steelers and Bengals in the AFC -- which one has the best shot at running the table and winning the Super Bowl?
David Fucillo: Among the Wild Card weekend participants, the New Orleans Saints have the best shot at reaching Super Bowl XLVI. Although they'll need to win three games to get to Indianapolis, they bring a top unit on offense. Teams do need to be somewhat well-rounded to have long-term success but having one great unit can overcome the struggles of a lesser unit in a short span.
The Saints are practically a lock to beat the Lions due to their explosiveness in the Superdome. They would get a beatable number two seed in the 49ers in the second round and then likely the Packers at Lambeau Field in the conference championship game. However, if the Packers were somehow upset and the Saints got to host the NFC title game, it further improves their chances given their home dominance.
Jason Garrison: Of the teams playing on Wild Card weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best chance of heading to Super Bowl XLVI. First, they face the Broncos and no amount of Tebow magic will help the the AFC West champions hold off the Steelers. That could set the Steelers up for a rematch against the Patriots (who they beat in Week 8) or a rematch agains the AFC North division champs, the Baltimore Ravens, depending on who wins the Bengals-Texans game.
While it's not 100 percent certain, it's likely that if the Steelers make it to the conference championship game, they'll face either the Patriots or Ravens and they'd have to go on the road to get it done. The Steelers are capable of beating both teams. They have a long way to go but with a roster filled with playoff veterans and the league's toughest defense, it's very possible that we see the Steelers in the big game again.
Joel Thorman: The two teams playing this weekend with the best chance of reaching the Super Bowl are the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers. I don't think I can pick just one of those teams -- they're both legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
The Saints are as hot as any team in the NFL right winning eight straight and in those eight games Drew Brees has thrown 25 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Yeah, the defense needs some work but they're good enough, especially with an offense like that. The Steelers, like the Saints, have the experience to make a Super Bowl. Heck, they were there less than a year ago. Ben The defense is elite, Ben Roethlisberger knows how to win and they have a nice deep threat in Mike Wallace. This team is clearly ready for a serious playoff run.