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NFC Playoff Seedings: No Need to Flex these Powerhouse Matchups

The Divisional Round of the 2015 NFL Playoffs showcases two compelling face-offs with history and challenge a'plenty.

Not that Schedule Flexing is ever needed in the NFL playoffs--after all, every game counts, this ain't major league baseball--but the NFC seedings have updated to two compelling matchups.

Seattle Seahawks (#6) at Carolina Panthers (#1)

Carolina, as top seed, drew the lowest seeded team as their opponent, and Seattle claimed that spot with a narrow escape from Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.  This pairing has become quite a rivalry over the last decade, one that is not in the limelight.  People rarely  recall the Seattle-hosted NFC Championship after the 2005 season, where they triple-teamed Steve Smith all game (and he beat that by scoring on a punt return) but throttled the Panthers 34-14. ( I was at that game, and believe me when I tell you that the entire stadium was "cadiac-ed" when Smith did that, even though the home team was up 20-7 at that point.)  After that, Seattle/Carolina contests were always hard fought and close.  In the 5 regular season games since the initial playoff match-up, the deciding margin was no more than 5 points except one pre-Cam Newton game in 2010.  Of note is also that Seattle has dominated these battles, winning 5 in a row until this season in Seattle and 6 out of 8 since 2005.  This could add fuel to 15-1 Carolina's rested, hungry fire.  The NFL world will see on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers (#5) at Arizona Cardinals (#2)

Green Bay bullied their way into this match-up by simply being the more playoff-ready team on Sunday.  Now, they will have to face a statistically superior opponent in the 2-seed, Arizona Cardinals.  The Cardinals finished the season top 5 in both offense and defense, they have the league's second highest qualifying rating at QB in Carson Palmer.  Green Bay is surprisingly low in their rankings, including QB Aaron Rodgers not being in the top 10 of Quarterback Ratings.  But, he is top to in touchdowns with 31, and his 8 interceptions is the 2nd lowest of that top 10 group--tied with, as you may have guessed, Carson Palmer.  Arizona's got a raucous home crowd and the strength of a 30 point victory in week 16 to stand on.  Will this be another decisive disassembly by the Cardinals?  Not if #12, white appears in the playoff form he showed in round one.  It will be a good game to watch, juggernaut vs. slingshot.