2013 NFL Playoff Preview

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The NFL Regular Season is officially over as teams begin to prepare for either a long offseason or for the playoffs. The NFL playoffs are one of the best times of the year for sports fans in general because it is the height of drama in sports. There are no series in the NFL playoffs as every game is do or die for both teams. It is one of the most nerve-racking times of the year for fans and the most stressful for players. Any mistake can end a team’s season and it has happened many times before. This year the NFL will look to see if the pattern continues though as there has been one thing that has led the championships. This is the new sensation of momentum as it has shown itself in the last three NFL seasons. In 2009 the New York Giants would streak into the postseason and barely earn a spot in the playoffs. From the wild card spot though the Giants would get past everyone playing away games the entire way and eventually win the Super Bowl. 2010 saw the Green Bay Packers do the same thing as they would play with a lot of injuries but still earn a playoff spot. They would take their #6 spot and go through the entire NFC field to win the Super Bowl. Last year the Giants would prove the pattern one more time as they would earn a spot in the playoffs at the very end of the season. They would then move on through all teams in their way and win their second Super Bowl in 3 years. It has been a pattern of the era in the NFL as the postseason is all about how you finish and not how you began. There are plenty teams with a good shot at the playoffs this year but only a few of them have come into the playoffs on a hot streak. Nothing has been decided yet though as the pattern may have an impact or a team the stumbled into the playoffs may pick it up when it matter most. The NFL playoffs are here and for football fans that means the best part of the season for the next four weeks.

 

American Football Conference

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The AFC has not been a winner in the last three years as the NFC has taken the last three Super Bowls. This year the AFC has some very strong teams but the fact remains that the AFC seems to be the weaker conference. All six of the AFC playoffs teams made the playoffs long before the last week of the season with nobody else left to really challenge them. Now the top six in the AFC are all looking to make their impact and end the AFC’s three-year losing streak. There will be plenty to watch for this year I the AFC with some amazing stories to pay watch throughout the AFC playoffs. Peyton Manning is one of these stories as the future hall of famer was out of football all of 2011 and has returned with a new team to lead the Broncos to the top team in the AFC. Peyton’s old team is also a great story as Chuck Pagano has returned to the sidelines after a season spent in the hospital undergoing treatment for cancer. The biggest story may be a matchup between Peyton’s new team and Peyton’s old team which could happen. There are the young stars in Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, and AJ Green who look to make their impact in the playoffs. Or will it be the old standbys in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady who can pull of their magic in the playoffs once again. Or can the Houston Texans finally get into a Super Bowl after years of slowly improving but never reaching the top. It will be an interesting postseason in the AFC with a lot to watch including some great football from some good teams. who are all looking to become the first AFC Super Bowl Champion since Super Bowl XLIII.

 

1. Denver Broncos
Strength: Defence (Ranked 2nd in total defence making them the key to the Broncos’ playoffs)
Weakness: Inexperience (Besides Manning a lot of these players only have one year in playoffs)
What they Need to Do:
Protect Peyton Manning like they have been all year as he is the difference maker on this team

2. New England Patriots
Strength: Offence (Once Again Tom Brady Leads the NFL in total offence)
Weakness: Defence (Once again the Pats have one of the worst defences ranked 25th)
What they Need to Do:
Overwhelm defences with their offence because the defence will not win them a Super Bowl

3. Houston Texans
Strength: Defence (Led by JJ Watt they are ranked #7 in the NFL)
Weakness: The Stumble (They are 1-3 in their final four games)
What They Need to Do:
Get back to playing that defence that made them so good at the beginning of the season

4. Baltimore Ravens
Strength: Leadership (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are two of the best leaders in the NFL)
Weakness: Age (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are at the end of their careers)
What They Need to Do:
Play Ravens football with strong defence and Ray Rice carrying the offence

5. Cincinnati Bengals
Strength: Their Hot (They are 6-1 in their last seven games of the regular season)
Weakness: Inexperience (Andy Dalton and AJ Green are the leaders in only their second year)
What They Need to Do:
Make the game easy for Dalton by staying true to what they do and not complicating things

6. Indianapolis Colts
Strength: Emotion (Playing for something like Chuck Strong is a powerful tool)
Weakness: Defence (Ranked 26th in the league and is still built to play with a lead)
What They Need to Do:
Let Andrew Luck work his magic even if he is only a rookie he plays like a veteran

 

Wild Card:
Cincinnati Bengals 21 – 17 Houston Texans
– The Bengals are the better defensive team at this point and with the Texans struggling to keep up their pace in the end of the season they are not the same team they were in the preseason making them vulnerable to a very hot Bengals team

Baltimore Ravens 14 – 10 Indianapolis Colts
– As big of a motivator as Chuck Pagano is the fact that Ray Lewis will play his last playoffs ever will be a much bigger motivation especially when Lewis is there to get everyone going as the Ravens will have an old school Ravens win

 

Divisional:
Denver Broncos 28 – 17 Cincinnati Bengals
– The Broncos are a force to be reckoned with this as Peyton Manning will dissect the Bengals defence while the Broncos defence will hold off the Bengals and sophomore QB Andy Dalton for the win

New England Patriots 28 – 24 Baltimore Ravens
– The Patriots will have to deal with a very motivated squad as they hope to win for Ray Lewis but they are not the same defence they were years ago and the Patriots will show that as Tom Brady will lead the Pats to the win

 

Conference:
Denver Broncos 38 – 31 New England Patriots
– It is a dream matchup of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship that harks back to the old Colts-Pats rivalry and this time it will be Manning and the Broncos who will get passed the Pats in an offensive game that will come down to the better defence

 

National Football Conference

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The NFC is enjoying a three-year winning streak in the Super Bowl and one of those three teams is back in the playoffs. This year the NFC is looking for another Super Bowl Champion but all teams in the NFC playoffs have one thing in common that may hurt their chances. Every one of these teams has some kind of massive question mark beside their name. Teams in the NFC are not necessarily the dominant forces that are usually favorites in the playoffs. There are not many truly dominant teams that you can look at and say that nobody will beat them because all have some type of issue. Whether it is the disappointing history of the Falcons or the one dimension of the Minnesota Vikings there is no team that does not have a major question mark. Even with this though the NFC’s chances are pretty good as the last three years have feature teams with big questions that have gone on to win the Super Bowl. This year the NFC will feature plenty of drama as there is no true favorite this year and that is what seems to happen every year in the NFC. There is no shortage of stories in the NFC though as every team will be looking to prove something in the playoffs. The Falcons will be looking to prove that they can win in the playoffs while the Seahawks and Vikings are trying to prove they belong. Meanwhile the Packers are looking to return to greatness as are the 49ers even if the 49ers are in a much longer drought. There will be two rookies facing off as well when Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson take the field. It is another wild year in the NFC with plenty to look forward to in the 2013 NFC playoffs.

 

1. Atlanta Falcons
Strength: Offence (Led by Matt Ryan they are ranked #8 in total offence in the NFL)
Weakness: History (They have consistently failed to meet expectations in the playoffs)
What They Need to Do:
Get out of their own head and forget about the past losses in the playoffs

2. San Francisco 49ers
Strength: Defence (It is hard-hitting and ranked #3 in total defence in the NFL)
Weakness: Inconsistency (One week they look great and the other they look terrible)
What They need to Do:
Play their style of football and don’t try to put too much on Colin Kaepernick

3. Green Bay Packers
Strength: Passing Offence (Led by Aaron Rodgers they simply find ways to score)
Weakness: Injuries (Some key players are banged up and still not fully recovered)
What They Need to Do:
Remember 2010 when they were in almost the exact same situation and won the Super Bowl

4. Washington Redskins
Strength: Rushing Game (They are the #1 rushing offence with two rookies leading the way)
Weakness: Inexperience (Two rookies, Robert Griffin and Alfred Morris)
What They Need to Do:
Make the offence balanced to make sure defences don’t key on RGIII

5. Seattle Seahawks
Strength: Their Very Hot (They are 5-0 in their last five games of the regular season)
Weakness: Their Away (Their biggest strength is Qwest Field but they won’t play there this year)
What They Need to Do:
Keep it rolling as they are playing the best football out of anyone in the playoffs right now

6. Minnesota Vikings
Strength: The RB (Adrian Peterson is simply the best running back in the NFL)
Weakness: They Have Nothing Else (AP is the only thing that the Vikings have on offence)
What They Need to Do:
Ride Adrian Peterson to take some pressure off of Ponder and not put the game in his hands

 

Wild Card:
Green Bay Packers 34 – 21 Minnesota Vikings
– In Lambeau Field with a healthier defence than week 17 the Packers win this game as they will shut down the passing game and keep Adrian Peterson relatively contained, meaning under 200 yards, to win the game

Seattle Seahawks 38 – 31 Washington Redskins
– Two of the best rookie QBs will face off as RGIII will do everything he can to win but the fact is that the Seahawks are the best team in football right now and Russell Wilson is on fire as he will lead the Seahawks to the win

 

Divisional:
Seattle Seahawks 28 – 27 Atlanta Falcons
– The Seahawks are not at home but the Falcons are in the playoffs where they always seem to find ways to lose which they will giving Russell Wilson an opening to win the game which he will take to continue the run into the playoffs

Green Bay Packers 24 – 23 San Francisco 49ers
– The Packers are a better team than when these two teams faced off at the beginning of the season and the Niners are not as confident, plus who doesn’t want to see the rematch of the Fail Mary in the conference finals

 

Conference:
Green Bay Packers 24 – 21 Seattle Seahawks
– The Packers will not let anything happen again as they will have massive motivation after the Fail Mary launched them and the fans into a rage that they will take out on the Seahawks who will not give in easily but will not beat the Packers again

 

Super Bowl XLVII:
Denver Broncos 38 – 31 Green Bay Packers
– The Packers have had some advantageous matchups that will give them some good motivation but no motivation is enough to stop Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos as a rematch of the Super Bowl XXXII with the Broncos coming out on top once again

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