The Reshuffling of NFL Playoff Brands After Round 2

It happens every year. Round 2 of the playoffs hit and everything changes. Losers becomes winners. Powerhouses are left stunned. And the hierarchy of NFL brands changes for years or even decades. This year is no different. After the second round of games, some teams have confidently jumped up the stream—emerging as sudden contenders and building surprisingly strong levels of brand personality.

Rising Brands of the 2018 NFL Playoffs

After the conclusion of the second round of the NFL Playoffs, here are four teams whose stock is on the rise…

Minnesota Vikings Brand

1. Minnesota Vikings

For almost the first three-quarters of this game, the Saints didn’t even remotely look in the game. The Vikings were both offensively and defensively dominant. So I spent the better part of the game writing about the greatness of the Minnesota. Then the Saints came storming back from 17-0 to take the lead at 24-23 with 10 seconds left. As I was kicking myself, a 61-yard pass as time expired saved the game for the Vikings and pushed them into the next round. Whew! Of all the teams who won this weekend, the Vikings look the most legit. They have a defense that ranks number one in both scoring average (15.80) and yards per game (275.9). But the team looks to be a real threat all around––including veteran QB Case Keenum. This brand has definitely jumped to the next level in recent weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars Brand

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

While the Minnesota Vikings probably have the most legit shot of winning it all, the Jacksonville Jaguars probably got the biggest brand lift throughout the course of the season—going from laughing-stock to longshot to upset victor against the Steelers at home at Heinz Field. Next, the Jaguars will face the Patriots at home in the AFC Championship game. If they can pull that one-off, an actual Super Bowl could be a real possibility. While quarterback Blake Bortles remains a wildcard who may or may not deliver, the defense is for real.

 

New England Patriots Brand Rising

3. New England Patriots

One thing you can easily say of the Patriots: They are who we thought they were! The Patriots haven’t so much elevated the team brand this year as they have expertly continued it. No team uses personnel as effective and consistent as the Pats, as they showed perfectly on Saturday night—getting touchdowns from 5 different players, and 337 yards and 3 touchdowns from the ageless (but 40) Tom Brady. Still, is this Patriots team good enough to repeat? I’m not totally convinced. Putting that statement in writing almost guarantees it will happen now.

Philadelphia Eagles Brand

4. Philadelphia Eagles

In a different world, the Eagles would be on the top of this list instead of on the bottom. But alas a torn ACL for quarterback Carson Wentz in week 14 against the Rams ended the fairy-tale season that looked like it could end in greatness. Philadelphia still has some underdog potential going thanks to a win from fill-in QB Nick Foles snagged against the Falcons on Saturday. But while Foles is a solid backup, it just doesn’t seem likely Philly can pull it off without Wentz. But the team still deserves credit for the way they elevated the brand to a top contender this year.

AUTHOR: Shad Connelly
ORIGIN: Communications Director @ MONSTERS Unlimited

If you'd like to follow Shad on Twitter  /  @shadconnelly