New Year means one thing in the world of the NFL: Play-off time.
Twelve teams left to battle it out to reach the Holy Grail that is the Super Bowl. This time around, it will be destination Indianapolis. Amongst the usual suspects like the Patriots, the Packers and the Steelers, this year we see the return to post-season for the 49ers after a few years in the wilderness and perhaps most unexpectedly, both the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans. Not to put either team down, but historically speaking, neither have much experience in play-off games.
Anyway, what follows is my prediction for the route to the Super Bowl… (by no means rely on the following predictions for money making opportunities!)
First up is the Wild Card weekend. In the first of the AFC match-ups, the Bengals go to Houston to play the Texans. Cincinnati finished third in the AFC North behind the Ravens and the Steelers, whilst Houston took full advantage of the crashing Colts to take the AFC South title. I think the Bengals’ experience will pay off and give them the edge into the Divisionals.
Then we have the Steelers up against the Denver Broncos. The Pittsburgh juggernaut is still going on, albeit at a slightly slower pace and the Broncos won the seemingly weak AFC West with an 8-8 record. There is sometimes an upset in the play-offs. But this won’t be it. I’m going for a comfortable Steelers win in Denver.
Over to the NFC now, and the Detroit Lions take on the New Orleans Saints. It isn’t that long since the Lions went an entire season without a single win, and now they find themselves in the play-offs. They won’t get too much time to enjoy it though, as the Saints should have too much for them in New Orleans.
The Falcons and the Giants will battle out the other Wild Card game, with my bet going on the Falcons this time.
Which takes us on to the Divisional Play-off round. As a reward for being the top seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots will have the pleasure of hosting the lowest ranked Wild Card winner – the Cincinnati Bengals. Remember I mentioned the possible upset? Well, don’t look here either. A Patriots stroll in the park, I’m afraid.
This moves us on to what is currently the biggest battle royale grudge match in the NFL: The Steelers and the Ravens. The Ravens won both regular season games but the Steelers seem to have the magic touch in the play-offs. I think this time though, the Ravens will make it 3 wins out of 3 to meet the Patriots in the Championship Game.
The NFC top seed is the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers. Fresh off the back of a 15-1 season, they will have no fear in the generally cold and snowy Milwaukee winter. The Falcons will be put to flight as they were in last season’s play-off match-up.
The resurgent 49ers await the Saints in the other game. Prior to the reshuffle in 2002, the two met regularly in the NFC West Division and more often than not, the 49ers came out on top. Although the Saints were recently Super Bowl winners themselves, I can honestly see the 49ers winning this.
So, the Championship Games. In the AFC we should (according to my calculations) get the Patriots and the Ravens. Both have history of winning the Super Bowl, the Patriots more so than the Ravens is has to be said. And I think that on this occasion we will see the Pariots book yet another Super Bowl trip.
The NFC is less clear cut. Both are big, glamorous names with history and glory spilling out of every pore. Both teams have played well this year and deserved their spot in the play-offs. This match has history. But I think the Packers will make a return to the Super Bowl to defend their title.
And so, here we are at the end of my Mystic Moore bit. After much deliberation I’m predicting a Super Bowl XLVI that pits the New England Patriots against the Green Bay Packers in a re-run of Super Bowl XXXI. As for who wins? I’m not that brave!!!
One last thing, I congratulate you if you’ve read this blog yet
have absolutely no interest in American Football!!!