Wild card weekend is just about upon us and the hunt for the Lombardi trophy is here. It has been a great NFL season with so much at stake the last week of the regular season. There were teams that have clinched long ago and also teams that got great fortune getting in to the big dance. It is time to make my playoff predictions for the whole entire playoffs, round by round.
Wild Card Weekend:
#3 Bengals defeat #6 Chargers
San Diego is a team that got the great fortune to be in this position. After losses by Miami, Baltimore and a crucial penalty that was not called in regulation, San Diego gets their shot at the Bengals. Phillip Rivers has been tremendous this season, deservedly so he is back at the Pro Bowl. He has done wonders with an offense that consists of Danny Woodhead, Eddie Royal and rookie Keenan Allen. I want to pick San Diego this game, but it’s about time the Bengals start living up to their consistent pre season hype. They have all the talent to go the distance; Andy Dalton is the ultimate wild card for that team. The defense is still very good despite the losses of Geno Atkins and Leon Hall. That defense and AJ Green will make the difference in this game, as well as Giovanni Bernard out of the backfield.
#4 Colts defeat #5 Chiefs
Andy Reid has turned around this team from number one overall pick to a wild card contender. Jamaal Charles has been as good as it gets in the NFL at running back. The defense has been a story as well for the Chiefs, led by Tamba Hali. Bottom line for this game, I’m taking Andrew Luck over Alex Smith to win this game. Smith is considered a “game manager” which he is for Kansas City, I just don’t see him being able to go out and win a game in the end when it counts. Andrew Luck is difficult to beat at home, despite his lack of talent surrounding him, lackluster offensive line and non-existent running game. I’m picking Luck to get his first career playoff win and it wont be his last.
#3 Eagles defeat #6 Saints
When Carolina sealed the deal for the NFC South division title, you knew it was trouble for the Saints. They consistently struggle on the road; they are a completely different team when they play indoors. Philadelphia is a team that is being overlooked. Chip Kelly’s offense has caught fire as of late, due to the great play of Nick Foles and a rejuvenated Lesean McCoy. Foles has only thrown two interceptions all season, I like that heading into the playoffs. A quarterback making good decisions with the leagues leading running back that is a dangerous combination.
#5 49ers defeat Packers
Aaron Rodgers made his return in Week 17 defeating Chicago to win the NFC North title. He played a great game and made the play at the end when it was needed the most. Temperatures in Green Bay for the game are going to be below freezing, which should favor the Packers. I like the 49ers in this game. Its asking a lot out of Rodgers to come back this late after an injury and expect him to take this team the distance, especially starting against this defense round one. San Fran does not typically play in this type of weather, but a team that has a rushing attack led by Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick get my pick.
#1 Broncos defeat Colts
Andrew Luck got the best of Peyton Manning when they first met early in the season at Lucas Oil stadium. That will not happen again. Denver is at home and loaded with offensive firepower. I cannot say the same for Andrew Luck. Ever since Reggie Wayne went down, the offense has struggled a lot more. I cannot imagine a scenario in which Luck can outscore Manning in a Denver shootout.
#2 Patriots defeat Bengals
Tom Brady should be in the MVP conversation, but he wont be because he doesn’t have the Peyton Manning stats. Brady has done way more with a whole let less and still has his team as the second seed. This is the time of year where Tom Brady shines and he will do it once again. Cincinnati has been banged up in the secondary, which does not bode well for them. I’m taking Brady at home because I don’t believe Andy Dalton has what it takes to be the difference at Foxboro.
#5 49ers defeat #1 Seattle
My biggest upset pick of the post-season. I have made it known throughout the whole season that if there is one team that can knock off the Hawks at home, it is San Fran. Seattle showed some weakness at home, losing to the Cardinals. The 49ers have the defense to contain Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. Aldon Smith is back to being in his all-star form and he helps take that defense to a new level. Percy Harvin is finally back for Seattle, but how much of an impact can you really expect him to have at this point without hardly playing? I like the offensive combination of Crabtree, Boldin and Davis against the Seattle defense. Boldin has been big-time in the playoffs before, would not be shocked to see him do it again.
#5 Eagles defeat #2 Carolina
It has been a great year for Riverboat Ron and the Panthers organization. They are proof of how great drafting quickly translates to franchise success. Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly both won their rookie of the year honors in their rookie years. Cam Newton has been great all season, making smart decisions when throwing and showing better patience in the pocket. I don’t think they lose this game because of the offense. The defense in Carolina has gotten a lot of the attention throughout the season by the media. They have been great this season, but I still see a weakness that will get exposed. Their front seven is as good as it gets, but their secondary is shaky. Desean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz and Brent Celek will do their best to show that. If the front seven does not get consistent pressure on Nick Foles, it will be trouble for the Panthers. Nick Foles has been one of the NFL’s best QB’s when facing the blitz. So if Carolina cannot bring him down, watch out for the Eagles in the NFC championship game.
#2 Patriots defeat #1 Broncos
Even when odds seem all against him, never bet against Tom Brady. He does not have the best of weapons to work with, but don’t ever count him out. The pressure will be all on the Broncos to win this game, which favors the Patriots. We saw what happened earlier this season between the two teams, New England stormed back to win after a 24-point deficit. This will be another chapter to the epic Manning/Brady rivalry that we have been so fortunate to see. Bottom line, it will be cold in Denver, maybe even wintery weather. I’m taking Brady in this one over Manning. After this one, people might begin to wonder why they didn’t vote Brady for MVP.
#5 49ers defeat #3 Eagles
The Eagles have had a great season under first year head coach Chip Kelly, but the road ends here. San Fran was in the Super Bowl last season and I expect them to be back. Philly has been known for their constant trips to the NFC championship, but not for their trips to the Super Bowl. I like San Fran to shut down the run and force Foles to beat them. If you allow the 49ers to pin their ears back and get to the QB, that’s trouble. The 49ers make their return trip to the Super Bowl, fortunately for Jim Harbaugh, John wont be on the other sideline.
#5 49ers defeat #2 Patriots
It will take everything for New England to defeat the Broncos in Denver without Rob Gronkowski. I cannot imagine Tom Brady being able to squeeze out another big time win with the talent that surrounds him, especially against the 49ers defense. The Patriots defense will have trouble accounting for the balance of this 49ers offense. The running game is loaded and the weapons on the outside will be too much for New England. Kaepernick gets his first Super Bowl title, as does Jim Harbaugh. If Tom Brady can somehow win this game, he will be the greatest QB to ever play in the NFL. Unfortunately for him, San Fran will have too much firepower to win this game.