NFL Power Rankings: How the final eight stack up

Broncos will seek payback from Steelers on field (2:28)

ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold talks about how Denver plans on handling it's frustration with Pittsburgh after a Week 15 hit in this weekend's playoff matchup. (2:28)

Can't get enough of ESPN's Power Rankings? Good, because we're bringing you a bonus playoff version.

After a wild-card round that produced an epic Bengals meltdown, heartbreak for the Vikings and much more, the playoff field is down to eight. Are the top seeds clearly a cut above? Who could be poised to surprise?

Below is how ESPN's Power Panel sees the postseason field heading into the divisional round. Spoiler alert: Broncos fans, pleased a week ago, will likely be fired up after seeing our revised order.

Note: "Last week" refers to the Week 18 rankings. The comments below are provided by ESPN Stats & Information.

1. Carolina Panthers

Record: 15-1 | Last week: 1 | Divisional round: vs. Seattle

The Panthers finished the regular season with an NFL-best 15-1 record, two wins more than any other team. The Panthers draw the Seahawks in the divisional round, a team Cam Newton is 1-4 against in his career.

2. Arizona Cardinals

Record: 13-3 | Last week: 4 | Divisional round: vs. Green Bay

The Cardinals enter the postseason coming off a 30-point loss to the Seahawks. The good news, though, is the game before that, they put up a 30-point victory over the Packers, their divisional-round opponent.

3. New England Patriots

Record: 12-4 | Last week: 5 | Divisional round: vs. Kansas City

Tom Brady enters the postseason on a two-game losing streak for the first time in his career, and he takes on the Chiefs in the divisional round, a team that beat the Patriots 41-14 last season.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Record: 11-6 | Last week: 3 | Divisional round: at Carolina

Russell Wilson is now 6-1 in his playoff career against NFC opponents (7-2 overall), but can Seattle keep relying on comebacks? Wilson hasn't completed a pass in the first quarter of his past three playoff games.

5. Denver Broncos

Record: 12-4 | Last week: 2 | Divisional round: vs. Pittsburgh

The Steelers overcame a 27-10 deficit to beat the Broncos in Week 15, but Brock Osweiler was Denver's quarterback. Can Peyton Manning do better? He's averaging only 0.12 points per drive more than Osweiler this season.

6. Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 12-5 | Last week: 8 | Divisional round: at New England

The Chiefs extended their NFL-best winning streak to 11 games with a 30-0 victory over the Texans in the wild-card round. Takeaways have been key for the Chiefs during the streak (plus-20), but the Patriots committed the fewest this season (14).

7. Green Bay Packers

Record: 11-6 | Last week: 10 | Divisional round: at Arizona

Aaron Rodgers was pressured on a season-low 16 percent of his dropbacks in the wild-card round, leading to 35 Packers points. In Week 16 against the Cardinals, the Packers scored eight points as Rodgers was sacked eight times.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 11-6 | Last week: 7 | Divisional round: at Denver

Ben Roethlisberger was shaken up in the wild-card round and the Steelers are already on their third-string running back. But Pittsburgh's wide receivers gained 338 yards on 32 receptions against Denver's vaunted secondary in Week 15.