Passing Judgment – NFL Playoff Predictions

With the NFL playoffs scheduled to begin this week, I took a look back at my predictions made before the season started which are posted at https://fantasyjudgment.com/passing-judgment-2011-nfl-predictions.  My predictions were generally ok, but I missed the boat big time with some teams.  I made these selections before knowing that Peyton Manning needed another surgery that would keep him out the entire season.  Clearly had he been playing, the Colts would not have gone 2-14.  I also grossly underestimated the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and San Francisco 49ers.  I am sure most people did not predict those teams to make the playoffs, but I was way off in my predictions for the number of wins they would get.  I also gave too much credit to the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles.  Granted, most people probably predicted that these three teams would be in the postseason.  But that does not change the fact I was wrong.

So without further adieu, here are my predictions for the NFL playoffs through the Super Bowl:

AFC Wild Card

Houston def. Cincinnati

Pittsburgh def. Denver

AFC Divisional Round

Baltimore def. Houston

New England def. Pittsburgh

AFC Championship

New England def. Baltimore

NFC Wild Card

Atlanta def. NY Giants

New Orleans def. Detroit

NFC Divisional Round

New Orleans def. San Francisco

Green Bay def. Atlanta

NFC Championship

Green Bay def. New Orleans

Super Bowl

Green Bay def. New England

Analysis

The easiest game to pick is Pittsburgh going into Denver and stuffing Tim Tebow.  The Broncos are extremely fortunate just to even make the playoffs let alone win the AFC West at 8-8 after losing their final three games.  The league has finally caught onto Tebow, and the Steelers’ defense will be well prepared to do much of the same.  While Pittsburgh comes limping into the game with some key injuries, Ben Roethlisberger will be relying on his aerial attack with a talented receiving core that includes Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Hines Ward. 

The Lions vs. Saints game will be the most fun to watch as these two prolific offenses square off inside the Superdome.  I predict the Saints will win because they are almost impossible to beat at home, but the upstart Lions will make it an exciting game.  This could easily be a 49-35 type game where Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford showcase their skills to the world.  Assuming New Orleans wins, they will have to go on the road to San Francisco and play the impressive 49ers.  While they will be outside of their familiar element, the Saints are just too talented for San Francisco’s vaunted defense to overcome.  Plus, the 49ers will not be able to score enough points to keep even. 

After winning their last two games against hated rivals Jets and Cowboys, the New York Giants will host a wild card game against the Atlanta Falcons.  However, there is no such thing as a homefield advantage for the Giants in the playoffs under Tom Coughlin.  In the eight years he has been head coach, he has never won a home playoff game.  That is hard to imagine, but it is true.  Their 2007 Super Bowl run was entirely on the road (at Tampa Bay, at Dallas, and at Green Bay).  The other years they have made the playoffs, the Giants have been embarassed in the first round at home by Carolina and Philadelphia.  The Falcons come into this game red hot with quarterback Matt Ryan and his impressive array of weapons.  The Giants defense has played better of late, but Atlanta’s versatile offense will be too much for them to overcome.

At the end of the day, it will simply come down to the two best teams and the two best quarterbacks in the league.  The Patriots will once again head to the Super Bowl as Tom Brady goes for his 4th ring.  However, even he cannot withstand the buzzsaw that is known as the Green Bay Packers.  Led by presumed MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will repeat as champions thanks to their incredible offense, play-making defense, and excellent coaching.  Any remaining comparisons to Brett Favre will be long gone once Rodgers adds a second championship ring to his hand.  In what could be the highest scoring Super Bowl in history, both Brady and Rodgers will show the world how good they are. 

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