2012 NFL Playoff Preview

The Playoffs are here and it is time for the best part of the year with any team able to win the big game. The NFL Postseason is one of the most unpredictable postseasons in pro sports and that is because of one reason. The Playoff system in the NFL is essentially a single elimination tournament that will end with one team raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Every game could be the last for these teams as 17 weeks and 16 games and all of the pain and sacrifice that it took could be for nothing with one play. Unlike other leagues the teams will not get a redo a few days later in a series instead they will have a week to prepare for their opponents and hope that everything comes together on the day they play. There is no second chance in the NFL Playoffs as every team needs to leave everything out on the field as they may not get a chance to play for the Lombardi again. This year is not different and with the parity of the NFL expect some fireworks with some amazing games and amazing performances almost guaranteed. With favorites and unlikely winners this year should be just as good as every other and with the games starting today here is my preview of the 12 teams in the playoffs and my predictions for the playoffs.


American Football Conference:

The AFC has been a rollercoaster this year with no team taking full control of the conference. Almost every team in the playoffs for the AFC has a massive hole that can be exposed by other teams. Although they may not be the best teams on paper these teams still made the playoffs, some in convincing manners and others not so much. The AFC this year could be the most entertaining of the two conferences in the playoffs with every team looking good enough to represent the conference, one that has sent only 3 different teams to the Super Bowl in the last 8 years, in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.


1. New England Patriots

Strength: The Passing Game (Ranked 2nd in the NFL behind Tom Brady’s Career year)

Weakness: The Defence (Ranked 31st in the league in yards allowed per game)

What They Need to Do:

Avoid a defensive battle that they will lose by getting out early using the passing game


2. Baltimore Ravens

Strength: The Defence (Ranked 3rd in the league and averaging 288.9 ypg and 16.6 ppg)

Weakness: Offensive Game Planning (John Harbaugh does not play to his strengths)

What They Need to Do:

Run to set up the pass instead of pass to set up the run (aka Let Ray Rice take over the game)


3. Houston Texans

Strength: Defence (Ranked 2nd in the NFL and averaging 285.7 ypg and 17.4 ppg)

Weakness: Quarterback (3rd stringer T.J. Yates has been good but is not Super Bowl Caliber)

What They Need to Do:

Game Plan to help Yates manage the game and hope the defence dominates


4. Denver Broncos

Strength: Defence (Has been the key to their late season surge to win the Division)

Weakness: Quarterback (Tebow has been magical but it’s the playoffs and he is not ready yet)

What They Need to Do:

Take it one first down at a time and try to not depend on Tebow to lead a 4th quarter comeback


5. Pittsburgh Steelers

Strength: Defence (Ranked 1st in the NFL averaging 271.8 ypg and 14.2 ppg)

Weakness: Injuries (Roethlisberger is banged up and Mendenhall is out)

What They Need to Do:

Play Steeler Football despite injuries as it is the only way the Steelers know how to win


6. Cincinnati Bengals

Strength: The Rookies (Andy Dalton and AJ Green are the best rookie combo from 2011)

Weakness: Experience (The team leaders are two rookies)

What They Need to Do:

Prepare Andy Dalton the best you can so he has confidence going into his first playoff game



Wild Card:

Cincinnati Bengals 13 – 10 Houston Texans

– It will be a battle of the defences meaning the QB who leads his team the best will win and in this matchup that QB will be Andy Dalton as TJ Yates is slightly less ready for the playoffs than the rookie Dalton


Pittsburgh Steelers 21 – 10 Denver Broncos

– Tim Tebow lost his last three games at QB and has seemingly lost his magic while the banged up Steelers are still a defensive powerhouse that will give him fits while Roethlisberger will tough it out and continue his success in the playoffs



New England Patriots 43 – 21 Cincinnati Bengals

– The Bengals defence is good but not nearly good enough to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots offence while Andy Dalton will be left to try to keep up with the 2nd best offence in the league and will give his best effort but fall short


Pittsburgh Steelers 21 – 14 Baltimore Ravens

– The ravens have beaten the Steelers twice this year but neither win came easy and with Ray Rice needing another big game against a great defence for the third time this year it does not seem likely that the Ravens go 3-0 against their division rivals


Conference Championship

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 – 21 New England Patriots

– The Pittsburgh Steelers will be the only true test for the Patriots all season and Tom Brady will finally falter under a great defence leaving the Pats defence to win the game which they cannot do against the best defence in the NFL


National Football Conference:

The NFC boasts two of the best offences in the league that more than make up for porous defences. The NFC could not be more different from the AFC as this conference is based on offence and the explosion that many of the teams can bring. This conference could be the most exciting and lights out of the two conferences with points scoring at will and defences being shredded. This year the NFC will try to finally destroy the thought that “Defence Wins Championships” as they will try to win through their offence. One thing is for sure and that is the defence that can hold off the offence assault will be the NFC representative in Super Bowl XLVI.


1. Green Bay Packers

Strength: The Passing Game (Behind Aaron Rodgers they have averaged 405.1 ypg and 35 ppg)

Weakness: The Defence (Ranked 32nd in the NFL averaging 411.6 ypg)

What They Need to Do:

Get back to playing calculated defence under Dom Capers and stop the flood of yards


2. San Francisco 49ers

Strength: The Run Defence (Have only allowed 77.2 rypg and 3 TD)

Weakness: Experience (Major lack of NFL playoff experience on the team)

What They Need to Do:

Continue playing the West Coast Offence and do not depend on Alex Smith to win the game


3. New Orleans Saints

Strength: The Passing Game (Drew Brees broke the record for most passing yards in a season)

Weakness: Defence (Ranked 24th averaging 368.4 ypg and 21.2 ppg)

What They Need to Do:

Continue to dominate on offence and allow their defence to play with the lead


4. New York Giants

Strength: The Hot Streak (Are the hottest team entering the playoffs)

Weakness: Ball Control (Have been known for key fumbles and interceptions at times)

What They Need to Do:

Get Pressure on the QB to end the threats of some of the best passers in the NFL


5. Atlanta Falcons

Strength: The Big Play (Very Explosive offence that can score from anywhere on the field)

Weakness: Inconsistency (The Falcons have been a hot and cold team but which will show up)

What They Need to Do:

Get back to the Time of Possession Game to keep the ball away from the powerful offences


6. Detroit Lions

Strength: Megatron (Calvin Johnson is the most explosive receiver in the league)

Weakness: Discipline (They have the most personal fouls in the NFL this year)

What They Need to Do:

Stop the Personal Fouls that have stalled drives and given offence second chances



Wild Card:

New Orleans Saints 45 – 38 Detroit Lions

– The Detroit Lions have proved that they can keep up in shootouts but the Saints and Drew Brees take what the Packers did with Matt Flynn in Week 17 to another level as the Lions will not be able to keep up


New York Giants 24 – 21 Atlanta Falcons

– Both teams have struggled with consistency of play this season but the New York Giants have seemed to figure it out while the Falcons are still iffy and will need to leave the Georgia Dome for the cold of MetLife Stadium



Green Bay Packers 34 – 31 New York Giants

– The Giants and Packers will play another close game but the Packers will have two weeks to get healthy and fix their defence as the Giants will be able to keep it close but ultimately fall short of the Packers offensive output


New Orleans Saints 43 – 34 San Francisco 49ers

– The Saints will need to overcome a great run defence which is fine because they are a passing team and will overwhelm the 49ers who do not have the offensive explosiveness to match Drew Brees and the Saints


Conference Championship:

Green Bay Packers 54 – 51 New Orleans Saints

– Do not blink in this matchup as both teams have become even better since they met in week 1 and with two amazing offences and two suspect defences the TDs will be plentiful but the Packers may be able to continue their interception streak to win the game


Super Bowl XLVI:

Green Bay Packers 38 – 36 Pittsburgh Steelers

– It will be a rematch of the previous Super Bowl as both teams took advantage of the short offseason to return to the championship and the result will be the same as the Packers have gotten better on offence but it will not be as easy as last year with the Steelers sure to keep it very close

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