The NFL playoffs are only days away at this point and, like we do every year, we're expecting the unexpected. Few people thought the 7-9 Seahawks would beat the Saints last year and hardly anyone expected the Packers to win it all. There's always a surprise team, an underdog that unexpectedly wins.
SB Nation's NFL playoffs roundtable examined which teams should be on upset watch entering Wild Card weekend. Your underdogs this week are the Lions (at Saints), Falcons (at Giants), Bengals (at Texans) and Broncos (vs. Steelers).
So which underdog has the best shot at winning this weekend?
David Fucillo: It's practically a cliche at this point, but I have to go with the Denver Broncos. Tim Tebow has gotten more press than just about any player over the last three months, but the Broncos resurgence goes beyond just Tebow. He has been an important part with his crazy comebacks, but the Broncos defense, special teams and Willis McGahee have been absolutely integral to the Broncos playoff run.
They now face a Steelers squad that is playing without starting running back Rashard Mendenhall and still has a slightly gimpy Ben Roethlisberger. I actually think they will be fine with Isaac Redman as their feature back, but it does open the door for some struggles. I think the Broncos can keep this a sufficiently low scoring game that an upset is very possible. And if Von Miller gets a big hit in on Big Ben, this game could swing for the Broncos.
Jason Garrison: I think that one of the biggest upsets this weekend would be the Detroit Lions knocking the New Orleans Saints out of the playoffs in the first round. Most would agree that the Saints and the Packers are two of the best teams, if not the best teams, in the NFL and I believe most predict that they'll face each other in the NFC Championship for a rematch of their exciting Week 1 game. If the Lions beat the Saints in the first week, it would be shocking.
It's not impossible either. The Saints may be 11-point favorites, but the Lions, like the Saints, have a top-five offense. Both teams' defenses aren't very good and it's likely that this game would be a shootout from beginning to end. If the Lions are able to stop the Saints on offense (which is easier said than done) just a handful of times, they could go on to face Green Bay in the divisional round, keeping their Super Bowl hopes alive.
Joel Thorman: I have to agree with the Broncos as the most likely upset team. This is really less about Tebow time and more about the Steelers. I think Pittsburgh is clearly the better team and should win but they have a tendency to allow bad teams to stay in the game.
Look at their three-point win over the lowly Colts earlier this year, the four-point win over the Jaguars, or 13-9 wins over the Chiefs and Browns. They win a lot of games -- you can't deny a 12-4 record -- but they also allow teams to stay close. And if the Steelers allow the Broncos to stay in the game deep into the fourth quarter, you never know what could happen. Tebow and the Broncos have done it before and I wouldn't be completely shocked to see them do it again.
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