So it took me a while to map out my predictions on here and I want to be clear that I did have the Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl before the season and that I still think they can. The problem is the last 6 weeks they haven't looked like a team that can take their talent all the way to Arizona on February 1st. Can they do it without Peyton Manning playing a solid game? Absolutely. Do they need him to play better then average though? Of course. That is what makes the playoffs hard to predict this year, but their are still some dominant teams that should make head way in this postseason.
First off let me remind you that concurrent with Sports Illustrated this year, I was 77 games off in my predictions before the season (just like Sports Illustrated). Out of the 32 teams and where they may be slotted within their division, I put 17 teams in the correct spot within their division. 6 of the 12 teams I predicted to be in the playoffs got into the playoffs, all three top AFC seeded teams went where I projected them to be (Patriots, Broncos, & Colts) And in my predictions before the season, I did better than Sports Illustrated in 5 of the 8 divisions. I also predicted 4 teams in the NFL their correct record (Patriots, Giants, Ravens, & Seahawks). So with that, obviously, take my predictions with a grain of salt, because the NFL is unpredictable.
Here are my predictions & scores during wild card weekend in the NFL coming up for the weekend of January 3rd & 4th.
Wild Card Weekend
#5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5) @ #4 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
I know the Panthers are one of the most pathetic division winners in the history of the NFL, but don't let them fool you. They are also the first NFC South winner to win back-to-back NFC South titles in the divisional era (since the NFC South was formed). People also forget that Carolina was the #2 seed in the NFC last year and they had a vaunted defense. Arizona also has a vaunted defense, the problem is their offense is the equivalency of a broken wing. They won't go far, and with a third string QB at the helm, it will be tough for them to match Cam Newton on the other side of the ball. Carolina wins this one, but don't be shocked if Arizona makes it tough.
Prediction: Carolina 24-13
#6 Baltimore Ravens (10-6) @ #3 Pittsburgh Steelers(11-5)
This is the most treacherous rivalry in the AFC over the past decade. These two teams haven't liked each other long enough to where many children forget about the NFL being an actual contact sport. These teams used to hit so hard that I don't even think some of the former players remember who they are. This won't be that violent because women and children will be watching on a Saturday night eating their marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate, but don't be upset and call the PC Police if it gets a little toasty on the field. These teams have hated each other since the early 2000's and it will stay that way till time ends, and I expect an instant classic like it should be. The offensive firepower of the Steelers can match any team, but the Ravens do this thing in the postseason where they tend to crush dreams and Joe Flacco starts playing like Joe Montana. I think the Ravens find a way to win, but again, considering the power of this rivalry, my word practically means nothing. It's why they play the damn game.
Prediction: Baltimore 24-21
#5 Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) @ #4 Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
The scary thing about this matchup is that Cincinnati could come into Indianapolis and absolutely throttle them defensively and run the ball down their throat, or Indianapolis could come and deliver the same blow they did early on in the season. Both these teams have been highly inconsistent this season and the only thing keeping my finger on the Colts is that they have the most powerful QB in football in Andrew Luck. Nobody remembers in this short attention span society that Andrew Luck led one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history last season against the Kansas City Chiefs and found a way to get into the second round of the playoffs. He may have to do that again this year and frankly, it wouldn't shock me. With the struggles Cincinnati has had in the postseason over the past couple seasons, they still don't have the biggest identity to lean on except for a rookie running back out of LSU who is unproven in the most important NFL season; The Postseason. The Colts have an identity, and it's not run driven, but Luck driven. They'll find a way to win.
Prediction: Indianapolis 26-21
#6 Detroit Lions (11-5) @ #3 Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
Crazy to think that the #6 and #3 seed are only separated by 1 game. Well, that's the NFC for you, it's been absolutely nuts this year. The problem I have with the Lions is that they can't beat anybody over .500. Every team they have played with 9+ wins they have lost to (unless you count that Week 3 win against the Packers) and the Cowboys have found a way to obliterate every one they have faced since that Thanksgiving debacle against the Eagles. Weather it's on the Road or in the safe comfy Jerry Land in Arlington Texas, the Cowboys are playing like the Cowboys of the 90's over the last month. But this time, instead of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, & Michael Irvin playing against Barry Sanders and the Lions, it'll be Romo, Dez, Spray Tan (DeMarco Murray), against Calvin Johnson and the boys. Should be a fun show, just don't expect Detroit to show up and play well.
Prediction: Dallas 34-17
#4 Carolina Panthers (8-8-1) @ #1 Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
... No No... I no breakdown game (Family Guy Consuela voice). The Panthers stand no chance against this high riding Seahawks team who's been on fire and caught stride at the perfect time. They can keep it close early, but the Seahawks will pull away eventually because they've had a week off. Once they dust the rust off in the 1st half, they'll put their foot on the Panther's neck in the 2nd.
Prediction: Seattle 21-9
#3 Dallas Cowboys (13-4) @ #2 Green Bay Packers (12-4)
This will be one of those games you will want to re-watch because I honestly could see it going either way and I guarantee you the 4th quarter will be amazing. But here's why Dallas is going to win. Look at how they have played since Thanksgiving and look at what Green Bay has done defensively. If you just take a quick look at their schedules, Dallas has dominated where Green Bay has been winning but they have also shown inconsistency and also have let bad teams hang around. The Cowboys don't have the best defense, but if they can get the Aaron Rodgers and make him feel a little flustered and keep that Packer Defense on the field, the Packers will wilt under their own home turf. The Packers are 8-0 at Lambeau Field this year, and at one point during the season they looked absolutely unbeatable. They still can win this game, but if the Cowboys can establish the run early, Aaron Rodgers will have to play the perfect football game to win. Considering the Cowboys have had the best running back in the NFL all year, and that their offense is peaking at the right time, they might be able to crack the Packers Defense in the 4th quarter. Again though, Aaron Rodgers is a zombie and I warn you, He... won't...die. This will be a classic either way.
Prediction: Dallas 31-28 F/OT
#6 Baltimore Ravens (11-6) @ #1 New England Patriots (12-4)
I feel like it's an every other year thing when these two teams meet up in the playoffs and I'm always curious to see which of which team shows up. Will the Patriots a chokers past find a way to let Joe Flacco and the boys squeak by? Or will Tom Brady play like the greatest thing since sliced bread and turn Joe Flacco into Gisele Bundchen in the kitchen. Yes, Tom Brady is Bruce Almighty, haven't you been watching the NFL for 10+ years? The point is, Baltimore scares me because if they beat Pittsburgh, they could go on a run all the way to the Super Bowl like they did two years ago, but I like the Patriots offense so much that it hurts. The other thing I keep forgetting is how potent that New England secondary is and I feel they have found a way to mimic Seattle and make it difficult to pass against. If Joe Flacco can't pass, then he might as well start prepping sandwiches to the defense now. Nothing like a Joe Flacco pick sandwich...In fact, make it two. I think Baltimore teases us, but New England will be the victor.
Prediction: New England 28-20
#4 Indianapolis Colts (12-5) @ #2 Denver Broncos (12-4)
I don't think people understand how long it took me to write this blog. It took me about 5 hours to write it, but at least an hour of it was focused on picking this game. Why? WHY AN HOUR WHEN A MONKEY COULD PICK THE GAME!? Because I don't know what the heck Peyton Manning is going to do! He's getting 2 weeks to rest and prepare and he's already played against the Colts already so he understands what it takes to beat them, but is he healthy enough and is that offense out of it's strange funk it's been in over the last month or so? I really can't tell, but the eye test tells me that somebody ate a bad case of cooked chicken and the worms are showing. I really don't like the inconsistency of the Colts, in fact, it makes me want to puke thinking they have a shot in the frigid Denver atmosphere and that Andrew Luck might actually have a chance to get to his first AFC Championship game, but it's hard to also pick the team that has consistently found a way to lose against good teams, and not put bad teams away early that makes me keep coming back to Andrew Luck and his capability to overtake the thrown of the Denver Broncos AFC Championship Crown. This game will be back and forth but in an odd way where it will be quick drives with many turnovers, but not a ton of scoring. This game could have a very odd feel to it, but I just can't pick against Luck considering how the Broncos have looked the past couple of months. I feel sick to my stomach, but I think the Colts will pull it out in Denver (even though I picked Denver as my preseason Super Bowl favorites).
Prediction: Indianapolis 26-24
Conference Championship Weekend
#3 Dallas Cowboys (14-4) @ #1 Seattle Seahawks (13-4)
As we all know, the Cowboys beat the Seahawks earlier in the season in CenturyLink Field where it was thought of that the Seahawks were unbeatable. The Cowboys were then pronounced as the class of the NFL after that game, and deservedly so. The problem is, the Seahawks were completely wiped with injury issues at that point along with a whole bunch of locker room issues, chemistry problems from Percy Harvin, and that whole team hit a Grade A funk. Well, since that game, the Seahawks have pulled a complete 180 degrees and they now look like a team ready to repeat and nobody is questioning their capabilities now. Can the Cowboys do what they did earlier on in the season? Absolutely. Do I think the Cowboys can go into Seattle and dethrone the Defending Super Bowl Champions in their house on their way to Super Bowl XLIX looking to repeat as champions? Of Course. But here's why it's not going to happen. Tony Romo is a clutch player, people will laugh when reading that line but he is when nobody is watching. The problem is, everybody will be watching this game, and if can pull it off, he'll be heralded as the next Jesus Christ and religions across the land will prepare for the coming of their respective Lord. The issue with that possibility, Russell Wilson is already the God son of the NFL and he's already the living testament of the modern scriptures in what Jesus Christ is defining. Yes, I've gone completely Jesus on this bitch. The point is, Russell Wilson is the captain of the Millennium Falcon, all he needs to do is feed the beast, run the ball every time he can't find an open man, and let the defense receive the rest they need to keep attacking Tony Romo. If he does that, then the crowd will do the rest of the work. The Seahawks are playing like they did a year ago, and the past 6+ weeks they've been the best team in the NFL. They are going to Arizona to play for another championship.
Prediction: Seattle 27-17
#4 Indianapolis Colts (13-5) @ #1 New England Patriots (13-4)
Well this isn't new. The only difference here is that the Colts don't have Peyton Manning and that's about it. Oh, and that the Patriots actually have a scary defense now and Andrew Luck stands no chance. If Andrew Luck finds a way to get to the Super Bowl, Buddhist Monks will fall from the sky and start to follow Andrew Luck in a perfect snake driven line till the end of time. He has to be their savior if he can beat the greatness of Tom Brady right? There's no way Tom Brady is losing this game. He's going to absolutely torch the Colts and make them wish they never played in the AFC and on top of Tom Brady torching them, the Colts offense is pass driven, and that's exactly what the Patriots defense is geared to stop. They won't be able get deep passes down the field and the Colts will be forced to keep their defense out on the field for too long and eventually the Patriots will be walking down the field by the 4th quarter. I think the Colts make it a closer game than it looks but this game will be over by the middle 3rd quarter.
Prediction: New England 35-23
AND NOW... FOR THE MOMENT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING TO READ...
(Which I'm sure you have already skipped to you impatient nitwit)
Super Bowl XLIX
#1 Seattle Seahawks (14-4) vs #1 New England (14-4)
Boy... this is a game that I want to see for the pure entertainment purpose of what the defenses will draw up to counteract one another and then to see the adjustments made in the second half to see which offense is ready come the 4th quarter to drive those precious yards in an attempt to win a historic Super Bowl. Why would this be historic? Well, it would be Tom Brady's 4th Super Bowl, or it would back-to-back Super Bowls for the Seahawks. I wish I didn't have to pick, but I know some team has to come out on top. I feel like if the Patriots have 2 weeks to prepare then Belichick will find the master scheme to offset the Legion of Boom. If you give Pete Carroll 2 weeks to prepare, he'll find ways to shut down crucial parts of the Patriots scheme. This would be the ultimate chess match. Two organizations fighting for the History that the NFL wants to unravel. The furry of the Seahawks and the calculated attack of the Patriots. Talk about a game that you could analyze from every angle and speculate what might go on. I hope it's these two teams because I want to see how they will match up on a neutral field. But... I'm picking the Seahawks, because this team is scary on 2 weeks rest, and if they find themselves with the lead in the 4th quarter, their run game will win the game. Period.
Prediction: Seattle 27-25
Super Bowl MVP: Marshawn Lynch
Thank you for reading! Enjoy the Playoffs!