Saturday, January 05, 2013

The 2012-13 NFL Playoff Predictions Column


A playoff field featuring an unprecedented three teams led by for rookie quarterbacks, the amazing return of an unassailable quarterback in new digs, a come-from-nowhere chic pick in the Northwest, two very vulnerable clubs that had held the best records in the NFL, and a Hall-of-Famer-to-be that will hang it up once his team loses this postseason.  And yet I’m going out on a limb to pick a team that no one expects to win even one game.  Let’s get this son-of-a-bitch underway, OK?

American Football Conference Wild Card: What a precipitous drop by the Houston Texans.  Once poised to have the best record in the league, then having two games in which to clinch home-field advantage, they instead drop both and are forced to play without a week off.  I believe in momentum heading into the postseason in this case, which means Cincinnati will complete their collapse.  See the Bengals shake Matt Schaub like he’s still in pee-wee football, and Andy Dalton will connect with A.J. Green at will to avenge their playoff loss at Houston last year.  Meanwhile, this is Ray Lewis’s last ride as linebacker for The Bastard Cleveland Browns, and his impending retirement has to serve as inspiration for an aging team.  But both Baltimore sides, and Lewis, are not what they once were, and Andrew Luck will be able to march down the field at will.  The Bastard Baltimore Colts have won both meetings against the team that is now in Baltimore, and the team that is now in Indianapolis will go back to their old city (I’m assuming not in Mayflower trucks) and march out with a W for the second time ever.

Predictions: Bengals over Texans; Colts over Ravens

National Football Conference Wild Card: Believe it or not, there are scouts with the Green Bay Packers that are scared that the offense, as it looks now, is not constituted for playoff football.  Also remember that if not for two Christian Ponder interceptions in the red zone, the Minnesota Vikings would have won that game.  Antoine Winfield has to be productive for the Vikes to have a chance to stop the pass, but who’s to say that Adrian Peterson will run up close to 200 yards on the Pack for a third game?  Minnesota is surging, and if they don’t turn the ball over, I’m calling the upset.  Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III meets Russell Wilson in a matchup of QB wunderkinds.  But the Seahawks D is too strong.  If the “Legion of Boom,” the nickname for the Seattle secondary, shuts down RGIII’s arm, the rest of the defense can take care of his legs.  And like the Vikings, the Seahawks are locked in.

Predictions: Vikings over Packers; Seahawks over Washington

American Football Conference Divisional: The Denver Broncos are not the Houston Texans – better quarterback, stouter defense, and the team is rolling.  Cincinnati will be embarrassed at Mile High.  Meanwhile, we will have another matchup of Tom Brady against the Indianapolis Colts.  Wouldn’t it be great if Brady vs. Luck is as great at Brady vs. Manning?  A home loss could very well happen, but I’ll say that Brady will do enough to tell Luck, “Not your time, kid.”

Predictions: Broncos over Bengals; Patriots over Colts

National Football Conference Divisional: Was Jim Harbaugh’s decision to replace Alex Smith with Colin Kapernick a mistake?  The doubts will start after Kapernick has an awful game at Candlestick, throwing picks against an imposing defense.  Meanwhile, no one thinks the Atlanta Falcons have a chance of winning the Super Bowl even though they’ve led the conference from wire to wire.  They don’t have a good defense – and the Vikings will expose that defense.  Quarterback Matt Ryan and Head Coach Mike Smith will have to win a playoff game one day; it won’t happen this year.

Predictions: Seahawks over 49ers; Vikings over Falcons

Conference Championships: Ah, Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning.  For the record, Brady leads in overall wins, 8-5, and playoff victories, 2-1.  But Manning got the better of Brady in their last postseason meeting in 2007.  And he’ll tie up that record after Denver completely shuts down the Patriots’ patchwork running game and makes Brady play hero ball.  Playing this game in Denver will make all the difference.  Meanwhile – you don’t think I would pick Seattle too, do you?  Everybody likes the Seahawks, and they have the tools to win it all.  But the NFL is full of surprises, and no one is giving Minnesota a chance.  Why not?  In a tight game, Seattle coughs up the ball a couple times and loses a squeaker in overtime.

Predictions: Broncos over Patriots; Vikings over Seahawks

Super Bowl XLVII: Will a matchup between the 1-seed Broncos and the 6-seed Vikings result in the largest line in Super Bowl history?  If it does, fly to Vegas and bet your kids’ college funds on Minnesota.  (I’m not giving you your money back if I’m wrong.)  I’m telling you, more and more it looks like Christian Ponder, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, had an epiphany after Ponder singlehandedly cost the team an upset in Green Bay in the regular season.  He had problems keeping his cool after Musgrave instructed him to step up in the pocket under pressure.  Instead, he has let Ponder roll out, and so he has looked a lot more confident improvising passes on the fly.

Musgrave and Head Coach Leslie Frazier will devise a gameplan that will solve the Broncos’ offense.  And Defensive Coordinator will whip up a defensive scheme that will remind Peyton Manning that for all of his brilliance, he still only has one Super Bowl title.

I am the worst Vikings pessimist in the state.  But what the hell – why not believe?

Prediction: Vikings over Broncos
Posted by WilliamSou at 12:39 AM

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