It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season because of Deflategate, the Packers and Seahawks kind of sucked to start the season, and the door seemed open for some other team — the Oakland Raiders, maybe, or the Detroit Lions — to make a run at the title.
But alas, a familiar playoff picture has developed, with the indomitable New England Patriots eyeing yet another Super Bowl run in the AFC and perennial contenders Green Bay and Seattle working their way through the NFC. Sure, there's the Dallas Cowboys, who rode rookie quarterback Dak Prescott to the number one seed in the NFC — but they were also led by possible domestic abuser Ezekiel Elliott and owner Jerry Jones, who is just pure evil.
All the fun story lines are dead, and unless you are part of one of these fan bases, the remainder of the NFL playoffs will likely frustrate the hell out of you. But if you want to torture yourself and watch anyway, here is what you need to know:
What's happened so far
The long-suffering Oakland Raiders went 12-4 during the regular season and seemed poised for a strong showing in the playoffs. Then, in week 16, quarterback Derek Carr, a candidate for the MVP award, went down with a broken leg, and the hobbled Raiders lost in the first round to a Houston Texans team with one of the more impotent offensive attacks in the league.
In the other AFC contest last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers routed the Miami Dolphins to advance to the next round. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a statistical mixed-bag during the lopsided win, tossing two interceptions to go with his two touchdowns, while Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh's astonishingly good running back, continued to dominate, rushing for 167 yards and two scores in the contest.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks rediscovered their running game and easily dispatched the Detroit Lions, whose star quarterback Matthew Stafford was struggling through a finger injury on his throwing hand.
Then, quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a big victory over the New York Giants. For the Pack, the game meant yet another trip to the divisional round. For the Giants, it meant going home to New York to face spicy hot takes about the receiving corps' pre-playoff boat party.
How to watch the divisional round
In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks will take on the two-seed Atlanta Falcons in the first of two Saturday games this weekend. The teams, who played a thriller in October in which the 'Hawks won 26-24, will play in Atlanta at 3:35 p.m. Eastern. The game will be broadcast by Fox. The experts are predicting another even match between the two teams, with the Falcons expected to narrowly edge out Seattle.
Later on Saturday, the Texans will head to Foxboro, Massachusetts, to face the New England Patriots, who will likely ride the stellar play of an ageless Tom Brady to a decisive victory. That game will get underway at 7:15 p.m. Eastern, and will be broadcast on CBS.
Then, on Sunday, the Steelers will play the Kansas City Chiefs in a 12:05 p.m. game on NBC. The Steelers routed the Chiefs in week four, but Pitt will face a balanced KC team with an injured Ben Roethlisberger; the Steelers' quarterback suffered an ankle injury during the team's win over the Dolphins last week.
In the later game, the Packers will roll into Dallas to face a number-one ranked Cowboys team that laid waste to Green Bay back in October. But the Packers' offense, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has since found its footing, and the 3:40 p.m. game at AT&T Stadium may prove a solid offensive duel. The game will be broadcast on Fox.
So, who's headed to the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl will be played in Houston on Feb. 5.
The New England Patriots, who have won four Super Bowls under the leadership of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, are 180-point favorites to win it all again this year, followed by the Cowboys and Packers, who are +475 and +550 respectively.