The last item on the NFL Preview list is for guest blogger Neil and I to predict all 12 playoff teams, their seedings and the eventual Super Bowl Champs. If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice that I picked some teams to make the playoffs who I initially had finishing under .500 in the win-loss record blogs. NFL predictions is a constantly fluid situation. I’ve changed my mind on this stuff at least 20 times in the past few hours. That’s how it goes until the regular season kicks off.
But these are the teams we’re finally willing to commit to in terms of who’s going places this year. Enjoy.
NFC PLAYOFF SEEDINGS
- Green Bay
- San Francisco
- Tampa Bay
- New Orleans
- Green Bay
- San Francisco
- Tampa Bay
Neil: Although I think San Francisco and Seattle might be the strongest regular season teams, they’re going to have trouble getting a top seed in the playoffs because they have to play each other and the NFC South. So basically they play the two toughest divisions in football, which may cost them the extra win or two they need for the top seed. That leaves my other two projected division winners in the NFC, Green Bay and Washington. I’m going to go with Green Bay as the #1 NFC seed, followed by San Francisco at the #2 and Washington at #3. The #4 seed is tough because the NFC South may be the best division in football and I can realistically see any of the four members winning the division. I’m picking Tampa to get the #4 seed. Even though they have the biggest question at QB in the division, they probably have the most complete team. Seattle gets the #5 seed and I’m going to give the #6 to New Orleans due to their schedule being slightly easier than Carolina’s (extra games are St. Louis & Dallas compared to Seattle & New York).
Ross: I’ve talked myself into Seattle being a slightly better team than San Francisco. And I trust the Seahawks to live up to my lofty expectations more than Green Bay, who was shaky all of last year. So the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle, and every analyst will say it’s a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks go all the way because their home field advantage is so devastating. Atlanta shows they’ll stick around the playoff conversation for the foreseeable future and barely beats out Washington for the #3 seed. San Francisco goes 12-4 and gets the #5 seed, which is rewarded with a 1st round game at Washington. And Tampa, despite Josh Freeman, punches its ticket to the playoffs in the final week of the season.
AFC PLAYOFF SEEDINGS
- New England
- New England
- Kansas City
Neil: Even though Denver’s defense is not going to be nearly as good as last year, they have an extremely easy schedule. So unless Peyton is done (I’d say only a 10% chance) they should easily go 13-3 and be the #1 seed in the AFC. I’m going with New England as the #2 seed, and even though I don’t think Houston is a great team they play in an easy division so let’s pencil them in for the #3 seed. The #4 seed in the AFC is one of the toughest to pick because you have to choose the AFC North winner. I think any of the four teams in the division could win it. I’m going to flip my four-sided coin and…Pittsburgh gets the #4 seed in the AFC. Picking the AFC wild card teams is tough because you are looking for two teams who only kind of suck. (Answering this question really reinforced how much better the NFC is than the AFC.) The AFC North, although not having any great teams, is probably the best division top to bottom in the conference, so let’s give Cincinnati the #5 seed and Baltimore the #6 seed.
Ross: I’m doing some wholesale changes on the bottom part of the AFC bracket. Gone are Baltimore, Houston and Cincinnati. The AFC is just bad enough that the mediocre teams blend together with the terrible teams to form some kind of unwatchable football smoothie. I might as well take some longshots to make the playoffs in this conference. It should also be noted that every year there are about 4-5 new playoff teams who didn’t make it the previous season. Since I can’t bring myself to predict more than 1 new playoff team in the NFC, I’m going with 3 of them in the AFC. Denver as the #1 seed makes sense because of their schedule and the offense might cover up defensive weaknesses at least for a while. New England with the other bye because frankly, who else is gonna take it? And I’m buying into Indy being better than Houston, just slightly, and I’ll give them the #3 seed because the AFC North is battling it out where an 8-8 or 9-7 team will get the 4th seed. I’m giving Pittsburgh and Kansas City the edge over other wildcard contenders like Cincy, Houston and Baltimore for no real reason except gut feel.
SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS
Neil: In the Super Bowl, Mike Shanahan is going to get revenge over his old team when the Redskins beat the Broncos. OK, probably not really. That is my “longshot” Super Bowl pick if somehow Washington can move up to the #1 seed in the NFC. More realistically, I see New England beating Green Bay by a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Seattle this year. I think if they get the #1 seed, they probably go to the Suer Bowl, but I’m worried about their tougher schedule forcing them to play at Lambeau in the playoffs.
Ross: My longshot prediction is for the Denver Broncos to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. If you’re smart enough to scroll up just a bit, you’ll notice that these two teams are the #1 seeds in their respective conferences according to my playoff projections. So why is this a longshot pick? Because the top teams never face each other in the Super Bowl these days! No, what we need to figure out if we’re truly going to predict the correct Super Bowl matchup is which mediocre team that basically backs into the playoffs is going to get randomly hot in January and make the run through the wildcard round all the way to the makeshift stage on February 2nd, 2014, where they’ll be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Who’s going to be last year’s Ravens, 2011’s Giants or 2010’s Packers? Figure that out and you got yourself the Super Bowl winner. I say Atlanta is that team this year. A tough division might cause them to limp into the playoffs looking more like a pretender than a contender, but the key is just getting there. They’ll improbably move through the NFC bracket while the AFC bracket essentially goes as expected. Atlanta beats Denver in the Super Bowl. Count on it.