NFL 2013 Playoff Preview

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AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

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DENVER BRONCOS (13-3, AFC WEST CHAMPIONS, HOME FIELD 1st ROUND BYE)

Ok…we will begin with the Denver Broncos.  In 2013, the Broncos set all kinds of offensive records.  First of all, Peyton Manning ended his season with 5,477 Yards Passing and 55 Touchdowns which both set NFL records.  The Broncos amassed 7,317 Total Yards of offense which was 1st in the league, almost 700 yards more than the Philadelphia Eagles who were second.  During the season, the Broncos averaged an unheard of 458 Yards Per Game, and a ridiculous 37.9 Points Per Game for 606 Points.  Denver only finished 19th in total Defense, but who cares when your team is putting up close to 40 Points a game.  The Broncos were first in passing offense and fifteenth in rushing.  Peyton Manning has weapons at will in this system so its almost impossible to focus on stopping one player.  Look at these incredible stats: Demariyus Thomas-13 touchdowns, Knowshon Moreno-13 Touchdowns, Julius Thomas-12 Touchdowns, Eric Decker-11 Touchdowns, and Wes Welker-10 Touchdowns.  D.Thomas and Erick Decker each had over 80 Receptions and over 1,200 Yards Receiving.  So, if one were to look at the Broncos going into the playoffs, they have to be the  team to beat.

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4, AFC EAST CHAMPIONS, FIRST ROUND BYE)

The New England Patriots may have had their quietest 12 Win Season.  New England had the 7th Best Overall Ranked Offense and 26th Ranked Defense.  Tom Brady once again eclipsed 4,000 Yards Passing as he threw for 4, 343 Yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 Picks, good enough for an 87 Passer Rating.  Legarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley each rushed for over 700 Yards a piece giving New England a great 1-2 Punch.  However, the Patriots may have been even better had they not lost their all-pro Tight End Steve Gronkowski.  Their 4 Losses came to the Jets, Carolina, Miami, and Cincinnati.  The Patriots must always be feared at this time of the year, especially at home where they will enjoy at least one home playoff game.  Julian Edelman, who took over for Wes Welker had a really good season catching 105 Passes.  New England has to always be in the hunt every year at this time so I will not say anything negative about this team.

WILD CARD WEEKEND

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ( 11-5, 2ND AFC WEST, WILD CARD TEAM)

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5, 1ST PLACE AFC NORTH)

This matchup will be the first playoff game of these 2013 NFL Playoffs.  The Chiefs started out as the hottest team winning nine straight games, but have come back down to earth lately.  Obviously, two of their losses came to the Denver Broncos.  The Chiefs have dominated most of the league, but they have lost twice to the Broncos, twice to the Chargers, and once to the Colts, the team they are playing this weekend.  The Chiefs rely heavily on the ground game with Jamaal Charles, which is an epiphany for first year coach Andy Reid, who refused to run the ball in Philly.  The Chiefs are only 21st in total offense.  However, they were the best team at creating turnovers.  The Chiefs can be a good team but they will struggle if they cannot win the time of possession.  The Colts on the other hand are the quiet beasts of the AFC.  They are in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively.  Andrew Luck had a solid sophomore Season and has quieted his critics.  Luck had a solid 23 TD Passes and only 9 Picks.  He also threw three game winning touchdowns.  He had an 87 QBR which was as good as Brady.  The Colts have played well against the competition.  They have beaten San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Kansas City all playoff teams.  I feel that the Colts are the dark horse in this years playoffs.  Now to my picks.  I think the Chiefs have had an excellent year and it was good to see Andy Reid have some success.  However, there run will end Saturday in Indy.  The Colts have a way of playing big in big games and that trend will continue.  The Colts win the game 27-23.

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SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (9-7, 3RD PLACE AFC WEST, WILD CARD)

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CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-5, 1ST PLACE AFC NORTH, HOME PLAYOFF)

So all of the hoopla on the last week of the season.  The Pittsburgh Steelers crying that they were robbed.  Well no matter what the circumstances, the Chargers won five straight games down the stretch and thats ultimately how they made the playoffs.  Philip Rivers career has been revived.  Rivers threw for over 4,400n Yards, had 32 TD Passes, and a 105.5 Rating.  The Chargers are ranked 5th In Total Offense and 23rd in Defense.  The Bengals come into this game with a chip on their shoulder though.  The Bengals had their own quarterback story with Andy Dalton.  Dalton had 33 TD Passes of his own, 4,200 yards.  He also threw 20 INT though and has a propensity to turn the ball over in key situations.  The Bengals counter with the League’s 3rd Ranked Defense and 10th Ranked Offense.  So, the Bengals are one of the more balanced teams in the NFL.  Normally I would pick an upset here, but I feel that the Bengals have had enough negativity the past few years.  The Bengals win in the cold 20-13.  The Chargers are a team that could upset but I do not see this happening in the cold weather.  If this game was in San Diego, I may be going the other way.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (13-3, 1ST PLACE NFC WEST, HOME FIELD, BYE)

The Seahawks have had a magical season.  And their motto all along has been the twelfth man (the fan).  Their only three losses came to Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Arizona.  Arizona And San Fran are Division Rivals so this is expected in a season.  The Colts have beaten five playoff teams.  Seattle however, has the best Defense in the league and have only given up over 14 Points Per Game.  Their Offense at 17 is in the middle of the pack.  However, Russell Wilson has that intangible attribute.  He reminds me of a young Donovan McNabb.  A ton of talent, not always great but gets the job done.  Seattle also relies heavily on Marshawn Lynch who is a beast at Running Back.  The Seahawks enter this post season as the team to beat in the NFC.

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CAROLINA PANTHERS (12-4, 1ST PLACE NFC SOUTH, BYE)

Many people are shocked that the Panthers even made the playoffs, let alone getting a first round bye.  However, the Panthers have been extremely consistent.  They were 1-3 and looked to be heading nowhere until they went on an 8 Game Winning Streak.  The Panthers have been an all around team.  The Panthers have also beat some stiff competition.  They beat the Patriots at home.  They also went 1-1 against the Saints.  They also beat a very stingy 49ers team.  Carolina, not surprisingly, comes into the playoffs with the 2nd Ranked Defense behind the Seahawks.  They have only given up 15.1 Points per game.  They only have the 26th ranked offense but this number is skewed due to stats.  Cam Newton has become one of the undisputed leaders on the team.  The Panthers will be dangerous and tough to beat.

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5, 2ND PLACE NFC SOUTH, WILD CARD)

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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6, NFC EAST CHAMPIONS, HOME PLAYOFF)

Wow…who would have saw this coming.  I am a die hard Eagles fan and I did not see them winning eight games this year.  Chip Kelly has breathed new life into a franchise thats starving for a championship.  The emergence of Nick Foles as the starting Quarterback has been an extremely fun process to watch.  LeSean McCoy has become the best all around running back in the league.  He set team records for rushing yards and all-purpose yardage.  He also won the NFL Rushing Title.  He id definitely the team MVP.  Nick Foles had the best Quarterback Rating in the NFL at 119.2.  He had 27 TD Passes/2INT.  Foles has become a leader on the field.  The turning point for me in the Eagles Season was a few weeks back in a driving snow when the Eagles looked like a machine and the weather did not slow their high powered offense down one bit.  The Eagles come into this game against the Saints with the 2nd Ranked Offense, only to Denver.  Moreover, even tho their defense has been poor at times, they are giving up an average of less than 20 points in their last nine games.  Linebacker Michael Kendricks and Cornerback Brandon Boykin have become stars in front of our eyes.  Ok, then we have the Saints.  Well two words, Drew Brees.  Brees threw for 5,162 Yards and 39 Touchdowns.  Brees is a master at picking defenses apart.  His Tight End Jimmy Graham could also be the team MVP with 15 TD Receptions.  The Saints also bolster an extreme defense and they are very underrated.  The way I look at this game is the team that turns the ball over more will be the loser.  The game time temperature is supposed to be less than 20 Degrees.  This creates a distinct advantage for the Eagles.  If the Saints were to win this game, it would be Drew Brees first ever away playoff game.  As mentioned, this game will come down to the turnover. The Saints are the better and more experienced team, but the Eagles have shown they can beat adversity.  They have also braved the harsh weather in a few games this season, most notably the Lions game and come out on top.  My mind says the Saints win this game but my gut says the BIRDS.  The Eagles win their first playoff game under Chip Kelly 37-33.  High Scoring is a definite.

NFL 49ers 6

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (11-5, 2ND PLACE NFC WEST, WILD CARD)

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Packers

GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-7-1, 1ST NFC NORTH CHAMPIONS)

Well this game looks like a dud on paper but these teams always play each other tough.  Aaron Rodgers is back, but I think the Niners will pull the upset of the Wild Card Round.  Niners win 17-14 at frigid Lambeau.

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