You could read carefully crafted analysis of this weekend's Wild Card games. You could focus on the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each team's offense/defense/special teams. You could make this about which coaches are best suited to adapt to the demands of the postseason, and which are likely to struggle.
But this is the PLAYOFFS. You've gotta push harder, go deeper. Don't settle for the "football" breakdown - look at the non-football factors as well. The difference between winning and losing at this point can come down to five key matchups, and we've taken a hard look at all of them.
Kansas City vs. Indianapolis
1. City's Founder
KC: Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, a French explorer who had recently deserted his military post in Detroit.
IND: Disputed, but often credited to George Pogue, a blacksmith who was never seen from again after he went off in search of horses he believed had been stolen by Native Americans.
Winner - Indianapolis. Everyone knows if you're going to sneak out of Detroit, you do it by faking your own death.
2. Representative Business Started In The Area
KC: H&R Block. Filing your taxes can, at best, be slightly rewarding and, at worst, ruin you for life. But it is a necessary thing, and something we probably complain about too much collectively, which makes it Alex Smith.
IND: Herff Jones. An entire business model based on peer pressuring teenagers into overpaying for tacky jewelry. Adults who still wear class rings are almost never to be trusted.
Winner - Kansas City. NOBODY CARES THAT YOU WERE ON THE TENNIS TEAM, CLASS OF 1998.
3. Famous Local Crime Figure
KC: Shauntay Henderson, suspected gang leader who was captured less than 24 hours after being placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. How? She answered her door when the cops knocked.
IND: John Dillinger, famed bank robber who also regularly stole guns, ammunition, and bulletproof vests from police stations.
Winner - Indianapolis. At least peek through the window before you open the door to the dang police.
KC: Kansas Citian.
Winner - Kansas City, because "Indianapolitan" is impossible to say. I've put the emphasis on four different syllables, all of which seem wrong.
5. Shortest Player In Team History
KC: Michael Clemons, 5'5" RB, 1987. Finished with 2 rushes for 7 yards and 19 kick returns.
IND: Titus Dixon, 5'6" WR, 1989. No statistics accumulated.
Winner - Kansas City. What's the point of signing a short dude if you're not even going to put him to good use, Indianapolis?
New Orleans vs. Philadelphia
NO: Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, French governor of Louisiana who also co-founded Mobile.
PHI: William Penn, a real estate titan who eventually tried to sell the city back to the British monarchy and eventually died penniless.
Winner - New Orleans, though this whole "sell cities back to England" thing is interesting. Ask them how much they'd give us for Boston. Anything over 40 grand is a deal.
NO: Cash Money Records, which was once sued in federal court for allegedly failing to compensate a man for the use of his "Italian-style spoken word recordings."
PHI: Pep Boys, the auto parts store with a logo depicting the ideal future for Philadelphia -- the men all have absurdly large heads, and there are no women or children.
Winner - New Orleans. There was never a chance we weren't going to side with Cash Money.
3. Crime Figure
NO: The Axeman of New Orleans, who murdered eight people and was never caught or identified. So fearsome was the Axeman that he inspired this sheet music.
Winner - Philadelphia. Not everything has to be turned into freaking jazz, New Orleans.
NO: New Orleanian
Winner - Philadelphia. Very disappointing that New Orleans didn't go with "New Orleander," since "Orleander" would be an excellent name for an old dog.
5. Shortest Player
NO: Howard Stevens, 5'5" RB, 1973-1974. 88 carries, 373 yards, 3 touchdowns, and over 1,800 return yards.
PHI: Jeff Sydner, 5'6" WR, 1992-1994. 3 catches, 52 yards, over 1,300 return yards.
Winner - New Orleans. As much as we all love a fat guy touchdown, there's something deeply hilarious about getting scored on by a dude that's 65 inches tall.
San Diego vs. Cincinnati
SD: Explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, though he named the area San Miguel and everyone just sort of decided to ignore him. He later died of complications from a broken leg, because there was a time when people medicine and horse medicine were exactly the same.
CIN: The city was started by Mathias Denman, Israel Ludlow, and Colonel Robert Patterson, but the important thing is that the first surveyor originally named it "Losantiville." Which means that, at one point, you really couldn't spell "Cincinnati" without "lose."
Winner - Losantiville. LOSE 'EM UP, LOSANTIVILLE!
SD: Jack In The Box, the only fast food chain that has been able to successfully serve hamburgers and tacos. This is no small feat; you do not want to imagine the burger you would be given at a Taco Bell at 2 AM, for instance.
CIN: Flamingo Air, a local charter service catering to that classy lady or gentleman who has always dreamed of having sex in Ohio airspace.
Winner - San Diego. Congratulations on finding a business way grosser than fast food, Cincinnati.
3. Crime Figure
SD: Andrew Cunanan, who went on a cross-country killing spree that culminated in the death of Gianni Versace.
CIN: Charles Manson.
Winner - Cincinnati, because you had to take a second to say, "Wait, who was that again?" for one of these people, and it wasn't Manson.
SD: San Diegan.
Winner - San Diego. "Cincinnatian" looks like a hilarious misspelling of "Cincy Nation" you'd see on a handmade sign at, yes, a Bengals game.
5. Shortest Player
SD: Lionel James, 5'6" RB/WR, 1984-1988. 1062 rushing yards, 2,278 receiving yards, 16 total touchdowns. College teammate of Bo Jackson, nicknamed "Little Train," set (at the time) the season record for all purpose yardage in 1985.
CIN: Jim Breech, 5'6" K, 1980-1992. 225 field goals, 71.9% of field goal attempts made. Holds franchise record for career points (1,152), 9/9 on career field goal attempts in overtime.
Winner - HIS NICKNAME IS LITTLE TRAIN COME ON THAT'S AMAZING.
OVERALL WINNER - The numbers favor the Chargers slightly (3-2), but I think it actually won't be nearly that close. The Bengals have been coasting on Charles Manson momentum for far too long.
San Francisco vs. Green Bay
SF: Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish soldier who also helped expel the Jesuits from Baja California.
GB: Jean Nicolet, a French explorer who believed the local Native Americans might hold the key to a water route to Asia and, therefore, naturally wore a silk robe and wielded two pistols the first time he met them. There's even a painting of it.
Winner - Green Bay. Look at that asshole. Just jumps on shore and starts shooting in the air like, "Hey check out this dope robe I'm wearing!"
SF: Craigslist, the best place to find local used furniture/jet skis/murderers, all of which will give you bedbugs.
GB: Schrieber Foods, one of the leading suppliers of cheese to fast food restaurants. You mean Burger King doesn't make its own cheese in house? I feel so cheated.
Winner - San Francisco. How else would landlords advertise apartments by showing you three poorly lit pictures of the bathroom and no other rooms?
SF: Jim Jones, cult leader who ordered the murder of a visiting congressman and the mass suicide (or murder) of 909 people all on the same day.
GB: Actor Tony Shalhoub, who stole the hearts of Americans everywhere as Antonio Scarpacci on Wings.
Winner - Green Bay. Free us from your siren song, Shalhoub!
SF: San Franciscan.
Winner - Seriously, Green Bay? You couldn't come up with anything? San Francisco wins by default because you were too lazy to conjure up "Green Baybies" or "Green Basians."
5. Shortest Player
SF: Noland Smith, 5'5" WR, 1969. 361 return yards (we haven't included his AFL stats). Nicknamed "Super Gnat" and had a role in MASH (the movie, not the TV show).
GB: J.J. Moses, 5'6" WR, 2002. 81 return yards. No IMDB credits found.
Winner - San Francisco. You dare not challenge Robert Altman's casting abilities.
OVERALL WINNER - Like the other three matchups, this one will be a nail-biter, but the Niners will pull out the win in the end.