NFL Playoff Predictions

by Mike Cannon

It’s that time of the year, everyone. The start of the NFL postseason is before us. These past few weeks as a Jets fan has been as antagonizing as can be, so in a way talking about football makes me cringe inside, but it’s also good in another way because it makes me more of an objective spectator for the upcoming games.

The NFL season in itself has been absolutely crazy. It started with lockout talks, then missing some of preseason, a “dream team” forming, and finally evolving into a season with records breaking all over the place. Guys like Victor Cruz, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are now popular household names among fantasy players. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and others have turned the QB position into even a more dominant role than it was, and a couple of teams have said either “fuck defense”, “fuck the run game” or both. It’s been an entertaining season to say the least.
I’m going to give my predictions and a brief synopsis of who I think will win these playoff matches to give fans a little something to think about going into this weekend. I’ll start with the AFC first, then NFC. I will only do games this weekend. Then I will go week to week stating my predictions for the next rounds. This is a good opportunity for you guys to rip on me for anything I get wrong this round.
AFC Wildcard Pittsburgh @Denver: The last thing I want to see is “Tebow Time” and have it be discussed on SportsCenter for about 40 hours the following week. I’ll admit that Tim Tebow had an amazing stretch of wins, but it looks like that’s settled down to Earth. The fact is, he’s going to need to complete passes for Denver to have a shot against a team like the Steelers, and based on his past, even in his wins, that’s something he hasn’t been capable of doing consistently. Pittsburgh’s D is tough and will confuse Tebow and pressure him. I know the Steelers have a couple guys banged up but I don’t see that being a problem. Steelers win relatively easy.
Prediction: Pittsburgh- 24 Denver- 7

AFC Wildcard: Cincinnati @Houston: Between injuries and general late inconsistency with these two teams in the recent weeks, I don’t see either team as any sort of threat. Houston has had injury problems which is unfortunate. Andre Johnson being hurt was tough, and Schaub may have been even tougher. It’s unfair to put T.J. Yates in such a role with high expectations, but that’s what it’s come down to. This one can go either way for me. The Bengals had a successful year, but they are also young, inexperienced, and simply haven’t proven they’ve risen to an elite status quite yet. I’ll take Cinci in a close one and make the two road AFC teams be victorious. Sorry Houston.

Prediction: Cincinnati- 28 Houston- 16

NFC Wildcard: Detroit @New Orleans: To me, this is the most intriguing matchup of the first round. I say this because Stafford has been on fire lately. There was a stretch where he seemed to have lost his connection with Calvin Johnson due to double teams, defensive changes, etc. but that seems to be back now. This game will be a shootout. Hardly any team can stop the Saints’ offense, if anyone at all. If Detroit wants to win this game they need to be right in the mix with them offensively and get one or two big turnovers and capitalize. I like the Lions a lot and was tempted to take this as an upset pick, but with New Orleans being at home in the dome and Brees having a magical season, it will be too tough.

Prediction: Detroit- 27 New Orleans- 38

NFC Wildcard: Atlanta @New York: It can’t get much sweeter for Giants fans than it has been the last two weeks. Both teams they hate the most were knocked out of the playoffs, by the Giants own doing. The Giants did what they needed to do and there’s no doubt they deserve all the credit for backing things up. A couple things to watch out for though. The last three weeks have been Washington, NYJ and Dallas. They lost to the Redskins at home which was awful, they beat the Jets but in all honesty didn’t play spectacular. (Eli was 9 for 27, 11 first downs all game on offense), and Dallas at home was a great win but the fact of the matter is, Dallas is an 8-8 team. What I’m trying to say is while these are great victories on a playoff-standing level, and a moral one, Atlanta is better than any of these teams. They have a better run game and defense than the Giants do. Eli will need to have a day, which is something he’s more than capable of doing. I have a feeling the Giants pull this one out because of momentum and home field, but the score will make Giants fans a little uneasy.
Prediction: Atlanta- 21 New York- 27

That’s it for the first round. Let the debating begin.

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