NFL Playoffs 5 Things to Know: Seahawks-Vikings Rematch, Steelers-Bengals Division Battle, Broncos, Panthers Top Seeds, Patriots Struggling?

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Jan 06, 2016 03:53 PM EST
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Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during an NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "

The NFL playoffs are set to start this weekend with the NFC and AFC Wild Card Round and eight teams will be in action on the schedule. The Seahawks and Vikings are playing for the second time this season, while the Bengals and Steelers will be matching up for the third time.

The Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have first round byes and will wait to see who they play in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Seahawks and Vikings game could be a frigid affair, as the reports about the weather have the temperatures dipping below zero with the wind chill.

The playoff games are set for the Wild Card Round and here are 5 Things to Know for the NFL postseason:

The Seahawks and Vikings will battle in Minnesota again

The Seahawks and Vikings played once already this season in Minnesota and that resulted in a big win for Seattle. The Seahawks are playing at a high level already after winning six of their final seven games of the season and the win in Minnesota should only give the team more confidence heading into the weekend. The team won that game without Marshawn Lynch and while the temperature for the game is expected to be below zero, Seattle will likely not be worried about travelling for a playoff game. 

The Bengals and Steelers matchup for another AFC North showdown

The Bengals and Steelers have a great rivalry in the AFC North and this year it will extend into the playoffs. The teams split the two games this season and now the third matchup will be the most important one. The Bengals have the reputation of not being able to win in the playoffs, as they have gone over 20 years without a postseason win, while the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger have won multiple Super Bowl titles in that time. Andy Dalton is hoping to return for the game, but it looks like AJ McCarron will start for the Bengals.

Injuries could be a factor in the playoffs for many teams

The Seahawks are expected to get Marshawn Lynch back against the Vikings, but will the running back be fresh after being out for over a month? Dalton is dealing with a broken finger and may not be ready to play, while DeAngelo Williams has an ankle injury for the Steelers and could be limited. Tom Brady has an ankle injury, but with the Patriots off for this week, the quarterback should be ready for the team's first postseason game.

The Broncos and the Panthers have home field through the playoffs

The Denver Broncos took advantage of the Patriots losing in Week 17 and now have home field advantage through the AFC playoffs. That could end up being a major factor in the outcome of the AFC if the Patriots and Broncos end up in the championship game, as the game will end up being in Denver and not in Massachusetts.

The Panthers clinched home field with a win in Week 17 and with the way the team has played all season, they are looking like favorites in the NFC. The home crowd has been a huge boost this year for the team and not having to travel could tip the scales for Carolina in the playoffs.

Are the Patriots still AFC favorites?

A few weeks ago it looked like the Patriots would coast through the AFC. The Broncos were playing Brock Osweiler at quarterback, while the Bengals lost to Denver to put the team just out of reach for a first round bye in the AFC. The Patriots had won two in a row after losing to the Eagles and it looked like they would have a clear path to the top seed.

But after two losses to the Jets and Dolphins to end the season, the Broncos snuck into the top spot, while Tom Brady suffered an ankle injury against Miami. The team also lost LeGarrette Blount to a season-ending injury, yet another loss for the team after Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman went down earlier in the year. While New England still looks like a strong team, there are some cracks and now they could have to travel to Denver to win the AFC title again. 

Check here for the NFL playoffs schedule.

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