Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's no surprise that the Carolina Panthers claim the top spot in the NFL Playoff Power Rankings, but the Broncos, the other No. 1 seed, isn't as lucky.

By Chris Burke
January 04, 2016

The NFL’s 50th Super Bowl champion will be crowned on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif. Will the playoffs unfold according to plan up to that point or, as is usually the case, are we in for a few surprises along the way?

The better question may be if anything even would qualify as a true surprise this year, given the parity (you may call it “mediocrity”) on display around the league. Records aside, there does not appear to huge gaps among the 12 playoff teams, at least in the wide open AFC.

BURKE: Previewing AFC wild-card games | FARRAR: NFC wild-card primer

How might it all go down? Which teams are the ones to beat? Our Playoff Power Rankings sets the stage for the postseason:

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)