We’ll start off with the NFC because the NFC is the strongest division. A 10 win team got screwed out of the postseason (Arizona) and the Saints, who were the #2 seed heading into the December, are now limping into the postseason as the #6 seed. The Panthers are now the #2 seed while winning 11 of their last 12 games. The Seahawks, well, they pretty much stole the show all year long in the NFC while also stumbling a bit in December. The 49ers look like they never dropped a beat even though they stumbled early in the 2013 season, but they nearly stole the division on the last month of the season. The Eagles just snuck into the playoffs but have been playing hot as of late and Nick Foles could rewrite the narrative in Philly when it comes to their postseason success in the past decade. The NFC North representative; Green Bay Packers, have the best QB in the NFL back at the helm but they barely got in and needed a win in Week 17 over the Chicago Bears just to slip through that terrible division into the postseason. The teams going to the Postseason this year in the NFC make it very difficult to pick a winner through this conference, but I think I can manage the difficulty
NFC Playoffs Wild Card Weekend
#6 New Orleans Saints 11-5 @ #3 Philadelphia Eagles 10-6 Saturday (January 4th)
8:10 pm/et NBC
I think the Saints on the whole are very well rounded team but they have had some serious issues away from the Super Dome. Considering this game will be played in chilly Philadelphia (an 8 pm game too), they have won 7 of their last 8 (only losing a random game to my Vikings), and needing to win the last two games just to have a shot at the postseason, I think the Eagles have had that win or die attitude for a while and considering the elements at hand all the factors lead to them getting this victory. This matchup is absolutely incredible though, I wouldn’t be shocked if it went to double OT considering the way the Eagles can run the ball, how the Saints can stop the run, how Drew Brees can pick apart the Eagles defense, and how well Nick Foles has been playing as of late. One defense has to show up, and I think Philly will come through in the clutch.
Pick: PHI 24-20
#5 San Francisco 49ers 12-4 @ #4 Green Bay Packers 8-7-1 Sunday (January 5th)
4:40 pm/et FOX
So this is a game that makes you want to reseed the entire playoff picture. How the hell does a team with 8 wins and a tie host a game over a team with 12 wins? Easy. The NFC West is just that good. Think about how good the NFC West is for a second, the Rams finished with 7 wins this season and finished last in the NFC West when they have the talent to easily win the NFC North and the NFC East… shoot maybe even the AFC North and South. Green Bay has the best QB in the NFL by far and he proved it in Week 17 beating the Bears to get to the postseason, but his ability alone will not carry them past the 49ers. But… crazier things have happened and I could see them pulling off a miracle. As much as last year’s postseason game was a scoring fest, this will be low scoring because apparently it gets cold this time of year in Wisconsin. Yes, the game won’t become it’s coldest until after halftime, but those receivers hands will turn into stone and the run game will need to prevail in the second half for the best team to win. The other obvious factor that hasn’t gotten better for the Packers is that their defense is just not on the same level as the 49ers. Defenses generally show up when the weather outside is frightful and I wouldn’t be shocked if Aaron Rodgers has to get his collarbone restructured in the offseason for hitting the frozen tundra floor on the last game of the weekend. 49ers should get it done but it should be another good matchup.
Pick: SF 31-14
NFC Divisional Weekend
#5 San Francisco 49ers 13-4 @ #1 Seattle Seahawks 13-3 Saturday (January 11th)
4:35 pm/et FOX
This game should get interesting. I feel like the 49ers have finally hit their stride and the Seahawks will be regaining it in this game. This will be the third matchup of the season between these two and I see the first team to 20 wins. I think the first quarter will go to the 49ers, but the Seahawks will warm up in the second quarter making it an intense 2nd half which will happen no matter what. It’s going to be a game of field position and a game of chess in the ultimate matchups of wit and grit and the Seahawks know a thing or two about a thing or two. I think since it’s at home and that crowd will be louder than any regular season game (even louder than the Saints game) because tickets don’t come cheap in the postseason making everybody on the edge of their seat for advancement in the postseason. It will be a war in the 4th and somehow I just see the Seahawks pulling it out. With how well the 49ers have looked in the past month it wouldn’t shock me if they shocked the world because of their level of play recently, but I think it is the Seahawks time and I don’t see another way out.
Pick: SEA 23-17
#3 Philadelphia Eagles 11-6 @ #2 Carolina Panthers 12-4 Sunday (January 12th)
1:05 pm/et FOX
Everyone thinks that this Carolina Panthers team is the sleeper team in the NFC and they have a legit case to run the table to the Super Bowl, but this Eagles team has hit a stride that can have their offense stay with anybody. Call me crazy, because this Carolina Panthers defense is sick, but I think the Eagles can put a 30 spot on them and get it done. Yes, I know, Nick Foles ooo he beat the Saints in Philly and now they will be in Carolina against a guy in Cam Newton and that sick defense. People forget, Carolina almost lost to the Falcons on the final game of the season and it was in the Georgia Dome where conditions are perfect. They will be back in the Carolinas in the outdoor conditions the Eagles can play in and with the offense they can put together in the cold conditions, they will be no push over. This is a game that could go either way but I see Philadelphia getting it done. Carolina is a learning squad and, yes, they have risen to a top 5 team in the NFL, but the Eagles have this guy in LeSean McCoy who is a serious threat on the offensive side of the ball and can really trip up this top 5 defense. On the offensive side of the ball for Carolina, who do they have other than their Tight Ends and a banged up Steve Smith? Nothing, and that’s what will make the difference because matchups are huge in the Playoffs and the Eagles have the advantage at running back. If he gets loose, it’s over.
Pick: PHI 34-24
NFC Championship Game
#3 Philadelphia Eagles 12-6 @ #1 Seattle Seahawks 14-3 Sunday (January 19th)
This game seems so easy to pick. It will be the best team in the NFL all season versus the team from Philly, who has to fly all the way out to Seattle, to compete in the Jet Engine Century Link Field. Doesn’t it seem like a hardcore Rocky movie that needs to be made without the old fogey Sylvester Stallone? Gosh I really want to pick Seattle in this game. It feels like they will have all the momentum going into it. They have the crowd, the quarterback, the defense, and the swagger. They have it all. Seattle is Goliath, and Philly is David. I picked Seattle before the season to win the Super Bowl and I can’t pick against them now, but honestly don’t be shocked if Philadelphia went into Seattle and won because the way the Seattle offense has been playing of late (and considering they will be coming off a pounding against San Francisco) Philly could easily come in in the 12th round and throw a haymaker for the ages. I just can’t see it happening though. Seattle will create a crater in pioneer square and they will be on their way to New York for Super Bowl 48.
Pick: SEA 41-28
So we have the same representative in the NFC as we had at the beginning of the season. Should that shock anybody? Seattle, having been a top five team all year going to New York, no it shouldn’t. But the AFC is a whole other issue.
The AFC has been a mess this season and it ended in a pretty interesting manner on Sunday. Other than Kansas City heading into Week 17, every other seed (including the NFC) hadn’t been determined. The 6 seed had Miami, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore all having a shot at a slot in the postseason. The craziest part, Pittsburgh needed all teams to lose (and get a win) to even have a chance and Miami and Baltimore lost in the early games with Pittsburgh, but San Diego decided to ruin their fate and make Ron Burgundy proud as his great city went to the playoffs playing the studded roster of the Kansas City Chiefs (who played all bench players). It took until overtime but the Chargers locked up a slot by stumbling to their inconsistent 9-7 record. The Broncos locked up the AFC West rather easily, the Patriots did their part, Cincinnati and Indy wrapped up their divisions rather early, and Indianapolis was rather inconsistent the second half of the year, but they still nearly wrapped up a first round bye. The AFC was a mess, but we are here to clean it up and give you our in-depth analysis on the picks leading towards the Super Bowl.
AFC Playoffs Wildcard Weekend
#5 Kansas City Chiefs 11-5 @ #4 Indianapolis Colts 11-5 Saturday (January 4th)
4:35 pm/et NBC
These teams just played each other a couple weeks ago except in Week 16, KC had nothing to play for. This time the game will be in the Indianapolis (Week 16 the game was @KC) and KC will show all the fire power to keep up with Indianapolis. I honestly think if Indianapolis is clicking on all cylinders, which they haven’t proven to me that they have been since the early portion of the season, then they really can beat anybody. They beat Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco before the Bye Week, but after the Bye, they just destroyed their division and lost to solid teams like St. Louis, Arizona, and Cincinnati. Granted, they did beat the KC but for what? KC had the playoffs locked up after Thanksgiving and they really had no shot against Denver did they? Once they lost to Denver, they knew playing hard didn’t matter as much, so resting and taking it easy the last couple of weeks might have been the best option. I think this game will be very well played and if Indianapolis plays their A game, they win. But they have shown me that they are not the same after the bye week and I think Kansas City will pull it off although it honestly wouldn’t shock me if Indy put them away and proved me completely wrong.
Pick: KC 21-10
#6 San Diego Chargers 9-7 @ #3 Cincinnati Bengals 11-5 Sunday (January 5th)
1:05 pm/et CBS
I really don’t need to break down this game do I? The Chargers, the most inconsistent team in Football this season by far. Perfect example: They lose to Oakland Week 5, 27-17, and then beat Indianapolis in Week 6, 19-9. They lose three straight games right after the Bye Week including the first game after the Bye Week they lost to a 3-13 Washington Redskins team when they had 2 weeks to prepare! They also lost to this Bengal team in Week 13, 17-10, in San Diego then decided to win the rest of their games to make it to the postseason (4 straight) They almost sound like the 2012 Minnesota Vikings, just lucky to make it in while considering the division they are in (AFC West with KC and Denver) and the odds looked too bleak to make it but they won the games they needed to just to screw over the other teams and steal the 6 seed. The Bengals? 8-0 at home, Top 10 defense, and consistency throughout the season. If you’re in Vegas, bet the Bengals straight up, because the Chargers need a miracle to win. If the Chargers do win, I’ll be in shock… Ha-ha, get it?
Pick: CIN 24-3
AFC Divisional Weekend
#3 Cincinnati Bengals 12-5 @ #2 New England Patriots 12-4 Saturday (January 11th)
8:15 pm/et CBS
I think we have all read the writing on the wall with the Patriots for a while when it comes to their potential playoff success and with where they stand with their talent heading into the postseason, they really stand no chance. The Bengals have a challenge of going into Foxboro, but against Tom Brady and what army? He has no tight ends, his receivers are as nameable as John Doe, and his running game has been beaten up all season. The defense is a little above average but other than that, they aren’t that special. The only thing they have an advantage of is their legendary crowd that shows up consistently every season ready to cheer on their fantastic organization of the past 12 years. They don’t have much fire power and considering the Bengals beat them earlier this season (13-6; Week 5 in Cincinnati) I think the Bengals have improved since then and after a week of getting their feet wet at home versus a terrible Chargers team, it might be the perfect warm up to put Tom Brady in the dust and hopefully remind Robert Kraft that he needs to get pieces for Brady to work with. Andy Dalton gets it done in Foxboro.
Pick: CIN 23-13
#5 Kansas City Chiefs 12-5 @ #1 Denver Broncos 13-3 Sunday (January 12th)
4:40 pm/et CBS
Is the third time the charm for Kansas City? I don’t think so. I could see Kansas City winning, but considering what happened last season for Peyton Manning and how his season ended, there is no way he loses this game. He’ll get at least 3 TD’s and make the KC D look like Swiss cheese again for a third straight time. The only chance KC has is to really knock Peyton around, but other than that they really don’t have an answer. Unless Alex Smith becomes Tom Brady and doesn’t just play as a game manager, the Chiefs can’t compete with the greatest offense in NFL History. You want me to say more, no I don’t wanna. Peyton for 320, 3 TD’s, a ball cap, and a beer.
Pick: DEN 31-10
AFC Championship Game
#3 Cincinnati Bengals 13-5 @ #1 Denver Broncos 14-3 Sunday (January 19th)
This Bengals team by this point in the Playoffs should warm up to the rest of the NFL fans and they will be coming into this game with a legit shot at going to New York to hold the title. They have a defense that is just that good and they really can hold their own against the best in the NFL. If there is one thing that can cause the Denver Broncos to lose their rocker, it will be the coverage and defensive pressure. They have one of the best front lines in the NFL with Geno Atkins holding the line and no-name guys like Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap who both have 7+ sacks to go along with Geno Atkins’ 6 sacks. They are truly a team defense with no real superstars carrying the load and considering they are so silent in the way they win games through the eyes of the media, they may come into this game with little opportunity to shine. Yes they went 3-5 on the road, yes they lost to bad teams on the road. But every time they have played in a big time game, they have shown up to do more than play, they knock you out. Denver may not be ready for the Bengals and America may not be ready for the Bengals but the only person who can be ready (and we know can be ready) is Peyton Manning. He will have to dissect a game plan that will get this Bengals team off balance on defense because if they get in a rhythm and do what they are capable of, the Bengals will be in the Super Bowl. I think Peyton is done with the games, and he gets it done.
Pick: DEN 33-28
Let me be frank on Philadelphia and Cincinnati. These two teams could easily get to the Super Bowl with the wave they have been riding and the way they have been playing football should be national news. Lucky for them, they are completely under the radar and that makes them terrifyingly attractive to pick. But I have to stick with my guns and pick Denver and Seattle in Super Bowl 48.
Super Bowl 48
Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos Sunday February 2nd
In a perfect world, these two teams need to meet in the Super Bowl. Something tells me it won’t happen, but the likelihood and the fantasy needs to come true. A New York Super Bowl with a potential snow storm in the making, how does that not spell Seattle/Denver? The Seattle Secondary and Peyton Manning… where’s my popcorn and chicken? Oh and can I get a hells yea on the honey barbeque with the potential hitting that could be going on in this game? The fierce hits across the middle in a snow storm blizzard on a frigid Sunday afternoon where the whole nation is watching. That’s what will bring many new fans into the game and raise the nation back into the hard hitting country that we need to get back to. I really have no clue who wins this game, but the matchups tell me that Russell Wilson will just need to game manage (~250 total yards, 2 TD’s) because the Manning/Secondary matchup will take care of itself. I think the Secondary will swag out beyond all compare and the nation will dawn a new form of Legion Of Boom after this Super Bowl. It won’t just be a local thing anymore but you’ll see boroughs in the Bronx pimping out the likes of Legion of Boom T-Shirts and Russell Wilson Jerseys because of the amount of swagger they will bring to this game. If the Seahawks play the perfect game, they can beat the 85 Bears. They play the perfect game in New York, just remember how they played on December 2nd, they will mirror that performance on February 2nd.
Pick: SEA 37-13 MVP: Russell Wilson
Those are my predictions. Don’t sleep on the #3 seeds. I’ll see y’all after the National Championship game. Lots to talk about.