Welcome all to January 2013! While most of you are nursing hangovers, or struggling to keep your New Years resolutions already, a certain section of people are looking forward to the next month with one thing in mind: The Superbowl.
That’s right, it’s NFL Playoff time. Last year, you may recall I had a go at predicting the road to the Superbowl, and got it wrong more often than not! Well, not to be humbled by this, I’m going to have another go this year too. So prepare to be amazed as I get things badly wrong once more!
Wild Card Weekend
The opening weekend of the Playoffs consists of the two division winners with the worst records and the two non-division winners with the best record in each conference (that’s AFC and NFC). The two divisional champions are seeded 3rd and 4th, and the other two teams 5th and 6th. In order to reward the better finishers, the 3rd seed plays 6th seed, and 4th against 5th.
In the AFC, there is a rematch of last years Wild Card round as the Cincinnati Bengals have been pitted against the Houston Texans again. Houston started well this season, but have started to fade over the final weeks, while the Bengals have gone on a run to overhaul and eliminate my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers from the Playoffs. It’s a tough call, but I am going for a Houston victory.
Also, in the AFC, we have the Indianapolis Colts up against the Baltimore Ravens. Having been 1-15 last season, the Colts have made an improvement of unexpected proportions to return to the Playoffs on the back of the form of rookie Quarterback Andrew Luck. The Ravens meanwhile, have continued to be classed as a big hitter in spite of the inconsistency of their Offense. For me, I think the big game experience will prove telling, and the Ravens will sneak through.
Over in the NFC, we have a divisional battle between the division winning Green Bay Packers, and the runners-up Minnesota Vikings. Despite the Vikings winning a close game in the final week of the regular season, I think that Green Bay will take home advantage and use it to generate a victory.
Finally, the Washington Redskins will host the Seattle Seahawks. Two teams with impressive first year Quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III for the ‘Skins, and Russell Wilson at the Seahawks, both have shown they can pull off a big game performance. But for me, I think the overall quality of the Seahawks will see them through to the next round.
This is where the two divisional winners with the best records come in. The Number 1 seed is the team with the best record from the regular season, and they have what is called ‘Home-field Advantage’ – they are guaranteed to be at home for as long as they are in the Playoffs (except at the neutral Superbowl, of course). The Number 1 seed will play the lowest seeded team left in the Playoff competition.
In the AFC, it was the Denver Broncos who secured the top seed courtesy of a huge winning 11-game winning streak. With Peyton Manning back to the form that made him a Pro-Bowl regular, Denver are looking particularly dangerous, and so, by my reckoning will be up against the Baltimore Ravens. Sadly for Baltimore fans, the adventure will end here as Denver will be too strong for them.
This leaves the New England Patriots to battle the Houston Texans. With the Texans fast becoming a potential Superbowl team, and the Patriots still justifying the ‘dynasty’ tag, this is a tough one to call. However, I’m going to stick my neck out and tip the Patriots for a narrow victory.
The NFC is equally tough to call. The top seeded Atlanta Falcons have gained a reputation as Playoff chokers, and so playing the Seattle Seahawks might not be the best match-up for them. It could be close, but Seattle will be the winners for me.
To complete the Divisional round, a mighty battle between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. These two have history! The 49ers have put their faith in back-up QB Colin Kaepernick at the expense of Alex Smith, and it’s hard to argue that they haven’t been rewarded. In a game that could go either way, it’s going to be the 49ers for me. Sorry Cheese-heads!
OKAY, WITH ONE GAME STILL TO PLAY IN THIS ROUND, BOTH MY SUPERBOWL PICKS HAVE LOST!!
This is the last game before the Superbowl. This decides who will represent each conference in the greatest game of all.
The AFC will be between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. Yet another battle between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning should be awe-inspiring, and if I’m honest, both deserve to appear in the Superbowl. Unfortunately, only one can. And for me, I think Manning will be leading his second different team to a Superbowl. Broncos to shade it, possibly in Overtime.
As for the NFC, a third meeting this season for the 49ers and Seahawks. With one win each on home territory (Seattle with a more spectacular win), this is one for the Seahawks to win I feel.
This gives us a Superbowl match-up of Denver Broncos against Seattle Seahawks. Possibly.
I think that Peyton Manning will haul his Broncos over the line for glory. Potentially.
Now, watch me be proved wildly wrong!!! And if you want to leave your predictions below, you are most welcome.