The NFL playoffs begin this weekend and that means a whole lot of fans doubting their team in the most positive way. The simple fact is if your team is in, you expect them to win. While you are naming all the reasons you should be happy they got in. At the end of the day only one team can raise the Vince Lombardi trophy and what team will that be? Not sure, but this is how I think the playoffs could play out.
In the AFC we have the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos with a bye week. For the Broncos it couldn’t have come at a better time with Peyton injured and everyone banged up at this time of year the 14 days of rest will be their biggest advantage. The Patriots get to study and rest and that is the best thing for them, yes they have injuries to deal with as well. As far as we know Brady is good and that is where things begin with the Patriots. Their biggest advantage is home field advantage the path to the Superbowl in the AFC goes through New England!
After that the AFC north can easily claim best division in football. If they were not playing each other you could argue that the road to the playoff would go through Pittsburgh. You do however have to play each other and because of that all 3 AFC north teams that made it in and all will play this weekend. The Ravens will see the Steelers the Bengals will play the Colts. The Colts came out on fire at the beginning of the season and the whole year has been a coming out party for Luck (Indianapolis Colts QB). Luck has shown why he will be considered one of the best to play the game on today he threw for 4,671 yards ran for 273 yards with 3 rushing TD’s and threw for 40 TD’s no small feat. Luck and the Colts will host their game and I expect the Bengals to run the ball a lot giving them chance and I believe if they do that they will walk away a winner. On the other hand if Luck gets a couple of touchdowns before the Bengals score you can expect a Colts victory. With the Steelers at home even without Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers RB), the Steelers should walk away a winner. For the Ravens to win they would need turnovers for the Steelers and need to be flawless on their side of the ball no turn overs and no 3rd down and long. I believe “Big” Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers QB) will just be too much with Brown as a big play threat down the field.
In the Next round I have the Patriots facing the Bengals and the Broncos facing the Steelers. I really see no reason that the Patriots won’t see the Bengals and hand them a loss in at Gillet Stadium. The Bengals would need the same strategy that could lead them to victory over the Colts and that is the problem. Giving the Hoodie (Bill Belichick head coach of the New England Patriots) and Tom Brady (New England Patriots QB) a week to prepare with tape on the game plan will more than likely lead to a loss. That means in order for the Bengals to win they need to play prefect football and air it out. It could happen it is unlikely especially since the Patriots can run the ball when they need to eat up clock and still move the ball.
The other game Broncos vs Steelers is a little different. The Steelers head coach Mike Tomlinson and QB Ben Roethlisberger will be looking for redemption form a Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos QB in 2012 playoffs) pass that ended the last playoff game between the two in Denver. This may spell disaster for the Broncos if they can’t absorb the haymakers that the Steelers will throw they won’t stand a chance. With a Denver defense that is much better than last year hopefully they can keep Peyton (Denver Brncos QB) in striking distance of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Making this a game where the team that scores last may win, but my money is on the Pittsburg Steelers winning the game.
This leads to a showdown in New England, this might be Brady’s last chance to go to the dance. The problem is I think by this time the Steelers will be somewhat healthy again. That could mean just about anything regardless of what happens I don’t give the Patriots much of an advantage facing the Steelers. If it is a shootout the Steelers can keep pace and the only blow out I can imagine is the one where a punt gets run back for a TD a pass is completed for a 50+ yard TD and that team runs the ball and scores to take time of possession and shorten the game. That team would be the Steelers and they would be going to the Superbowl to add to the legacy trophy to the already full display case. I think what I am saying is I see the Steelers winning the game and going to the Superbowl. It would be reminiscent of the 2007 playoffs when the NFC East had 3 teams in and the Giants went on to win the Superbowl.
Now there is the NFC and this is really going to be the story of three teams the Seahawks, Packers and Cowboys. Arizona Cardinals would be a nice story if they can make a run especially with the fact that their city will host the game. The Carolina Panthers have been up and down all season they are up right now. Then there is the Detroit Lions where do I start they should have a Superbowl under their belt with all the teams talent and for whatever reason the Lions continue not to move on to a Superbowl.
Let’s start with the Arizona Cardinals vs the Carolina Panthers. 4 weeks ago I would have pick the Cardinals by 7 with ease. At the beginning of the season I would have told you Cam (QB of the Panthers) will have a field day with the Cardinals. Now I have no idea the Panthers are representing the NFC south and have a home game, but the NFC south was in shambles. The Panthers won the division at 7-8-1 a half game under .500 not a common thing in the NFL. So why not pick the Cardinals, well they lost their starting QB and then his understudy that is why. This shouldn’t be a pick’em game but with the Cardinals having QB issues staying healthy you have to go with the Panthers.
Now we have the Cowboys vs the Lions this should be a barn burner of a game 35 to 38 as a final score is very possible, then again so is 13 to 10. Why do you ask? These two teams have a history of not knowing how to play in the playoffs and for the winner it could spell trouble for the next team. Saying that either of these teams are a sleeping juggernaut is an understatement they could be one win away from a dynasty. If in the off-season they can keep their teams intact, the confidence one team will get from winning the game could end in the Superbowl. By the way I think the Cowboys win at home.
The Panthers would go on to play the Seahawks and this is more of a bloodletting than a contest. It shouldn’t seem that way but the Panthers have not shown an ability to be consistent all season and yes the Seahawks did come out of the gate a little slow and a little bit of dumb luck happened for them (the Cardinals QB injuries) and they have home field advantage. With home field and playing the Panthers on a week of rest the Seahawks will be intent on defending their Superbowl title. The Seahawks should walk away with the win and a chance to go back to NFC championship game.
Cowboys vs Packers this is the game to watch Jordy (Green Bay Packers WR) vs Dez (Dallas Cowboys WR), Romo (Dallas Cowboys QB) vs Rodgers (Green Bay Packers QB), Murray (Dallas Cowboys RB) vs Lacey (Green Bay Packers RB)… yes this is a game of offensive display that will be one to remember as the offensives sherd their way through defenses. Who has the advantage the Packers home field and one of the best QB’s in the game. Yes the Cowboys have Romo but Romo does not have the pedigree of Rodgers when it comes to the playoffs. If the Cowboys manage to win the turnover fight they will win. Good money is on the frozen tundra and Aaron Rodgers moving on to Seattle for a battle of the legendary fans.
The NFC title game will be one to remember with the Seahawks facing off with the Packers. Rodgers and McCarthy will be coming for blood this would finally throw the last pile of dirt on the career of the legendary Brett Favre. While the Seahawks will look to repeat a NFC championship game and on to their back to back Superbowl appearance. Unfortunately for them I don’t think it will be enough for the Seahawks. When I look at the Packers they are the most versatile offense in the NFL and I think that they will be on there a game for this game. With that said the Packers will have to kill the 12th man if they want to truly take on the Seattle and the Seahawks. I believe that is their advantage they know what a fandom home field means and will be looking to make short work of the fans excitement. With quick scores at the beginning of the game. If the Seahawks stay within striking range of the Packers it could be a long 4th quarter for the Green Bay Packers. With that said Superbowl XLIX should be the Packers vs the Steelers. Who wins let’s wait to see if they make it there.