The NFC playoffs will be special.

The AFC playoffs look like a waltz to the Super Bowl for the No. 1-seeded New England Patriots.

Why? It's all about the quarterbacks.

After their bye, the Patriots will play host to either the Dolphins, Texans or Raiders.

All three of those teams have quarterback issues. That means the Tom Brady-led Patriots will have to face either Matt McGloin or Connor Cook (Raiders), Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage (Texans) or Matt Moore or Ryan Tannehill (long shot for the Dolphins) in their first game. Win that, and they will be in the title game.

That's easy sledding.

The NFC is wide open. Any of the teams could make a push, with the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons as the top two seeds.

Look at the NFC passers: Dak Prescott (star rookie for the Cowboys), Matt Ryan (Falcons' likely MVP), Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Eli Manning (Giants) and Matthew Stafford (Lions). That's three Super Bowl winners in that group.

That's why the NFC playoffs are so wide open. The playoffs are about quarterbacks.

The NFC has them. The AFC doesn't.

The Patriots have to be thrilled. They certainly have one.

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Tom Brady and the Patriots have to be thrilled about their path to the Super Bowl. Getty Images

Now here's a quick look at the wild-card round:

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

The skinny: The Lions lost to the Seahawks in the last meeting in October 2015 on a blown call in the final seconds, which saw Calvin Johnson fumble into the end zone only to have K.J. Wright bat it out. It should have been an illegal batting of the ball but the ruling was Seattle ball and game over. Now the Lions go back to face a Seattle team that hasn't been as good on defense the past few weeks. Can Matthew Stafford and the offense get it cranked up against that unit? They also have to pressure Russell Wilson.

Key individual matchup: Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah against Seahawks left tackle George Fant. Ansah is Detroit's best pass rusher, while Fant is a former basketball player who has earned the starting spot in his second season. He has improved as the season has moved along.

Key unit matchup: Seattle's secondary against the Lions receivers. The Legion of Boom is without center fielder Earl Thomas, which hurts. That puts more pressure on the corners to slow down Golden Tate, their former teammate, and Marvin Jones. Richard Sherman, as he always is, will be the guy to watch.

Interesting stat: For the first time since 2011, the Seahawks head into the playoffs without being the league's top-ranked scoring defense. They finished second to the New England Patriots.


Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

The skinny: The Dolphins beat the Steelers 30-15 in mid-October in a game dominated by the Miami running game. Jay Ajayi ran for 204 yards on 25 carries that day, but the Steelers defense has improved greatly down the stretch. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also got hurt in that game and threw two picks. He suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss the next game.

Key matchup: Steelers' inside three on the offensive line against Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins have had issues stopping the run, but not because of Suh. He has been a force. If the Steelers are to run it, they have to get him blocked.

Key unit matchup: Dolphins' offensive line against the Steelers' front seven. The Miami offensive line handled the Pittsburgh front the last time. But the Steelers have improved up front since then, especially with the growth of rookie nose tackle Javon Hargrave.

Interesting stat: The Dolphins are 32nd in the league on defense in yards per rush, which doesn't bode well against Le'Veon Bell.


Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans

The skinny: The quarterback situation is the story in this one. Tom Savage got knocked out of Sunday's game against the Titans with a concussion, and that forced Brock Osweiler to play. That bears watching this week. Oakland lost Matt McGloin with a shoulder injury against Denver, forcing rookie Connor Cook into the game and he didn't play well. Neither did. This is a quarterback disaster of a playoff game.

Key individual matchup: Raiders corners Sean Smith and David Amerson against Texans receiver Deandre Hopkins. Hopkins has struggled some this season because of the poor quarterback play. But he remains the Texans' top threat and has to make big plays against the two Raiders corners if Houston is to win this one.

Key unit matchup: The Raiders' offensive line against the Texans' front seven. The Oakland offensive line has been good all season, one of the best, but this is a game where it will have to be even better. The Texans front, led by Jadeveon Clowney, is a good one.

Interesting stat: The Raiders tied with the Chiefs for best in the NFL in takeaway/giveaway ratio with a plus-16, while the Texans were last among all playoff teams with a minus-seven.


New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

The skinny: The Packers beat the Giants 23-16 in October, but the Giants have made big strides as a defense since then. The last two times the Giants played playoff games in Lambeau, they beat the Packers and ended up winning the Super Bowl. Eli Manning will try and make it three straight in the postseason against the Packers, but it won't be easy against a hot Aaron Rodgers.

Key individual matchup: The Giants have to get pressure from right end Olivier Vernon, their top pass rusher. But it won't be easy as he goes against David Bakhtiari, one of the best in the NFL.

Key unit matchup: The Packers' corners against the Giants' receivers, mainly Odell Beckham Jr. Green Bay's corners have been banged up all season long and still have major issues on the back end. They have to double Beckham Jr. in this game or have major problems.

Interesting stat: The Giants are third in the NFL in third-down defense, but Rodgers is first in the NFL in third-down passing. Something has to give.


More musings from around the NFL:

Washington Redskins

Is Kirk Cousins worth a long-term deal from the Redskins? That's still up for debate after what happened down the stretch this season.

Cousins had a good season stats-wise, but he threw just two touchdown passes the final three weeks as the Redskins missed out on the playoffs after losing to the Giants on Sunday.

Cousins finished 22 of 35 for 287 yards and a touchdown against the Giants, but he threw two bad interceptions, the last one in the final minute on a late throw to the middle of the field.

Quarterbacks are defined by what they do in December and Cousins hasn't been good. He seems to fold when the moment gets big. That's not a good thing.

That's why the Redskins might be wise to put the franchise tag on Cousins again. Yes, he has done some good things the past two seasons, but why not see him do it again? The risk of a long-term deal might be too much, especially when you start talking about $120 million.


Denver Broncos

Health is one thing that coaches tend to ignore. That's why it's refreshing to see a guy like Gary Kubiak resign because of health issues. It's clear he was asked to do so by family members, but if there are issues it's the right thing to do.

The coaching profession is a high-stress profession that can lead to health issues. Kubiak had a stroke while the head coach of the Texans and then had to take an absence this season for more health problems.

He is one of the class acts of the profession, one of the most likable in the league, so I applaud him for walking away when he can.

Who takes over in Denver? Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the son of former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, would make a lot of sense. Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who played at Colorado, is in the mix.


Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks were smart to lock up defensive end Michael Bennett with a three-year, $31 million extension. Bennett is still the guy who makes that defense go. When he was out with a knee injury -- and he's still trying to get back to form after missing five games -- the Seahawks weren't the same defense. When he's healthy, he's a game-changer.


Buffalo Bills

It's interesting to hear some of the Buffalo Bills players talking about a lack of discipline under fired coach Rex Ryan.

"Discipline has been an issue," running back LeSean McCoy said. "I just think players need to take accountability for their actions."

That has been the knock on Ryan in his coaching career. Interim coach Anthony Lynn, who is expected to be the team's coach, is far more of a disciplined coach than Ryan.