Thoughts about postseason football…

The teams I would love to see in the Super Bowl would be the Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions.  I would love to see the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints have a shot if the other two do not make it.  However, the teams I want to see make it do not seem to have a very good chance (save the Saints).  Here is how I believe the playoffs will break down:

AFC
Wildcard Round
Cincinnati Bengals d. Houston Texans
I would love to have the Texans win here, but I think they are in a funk, and the playoffs rarely are the place to get out of a funk.  The Bengals are dangerous and have just enough in the tank to squeak by.

Pittsburgh Steelers d. Denver Broncos
Even with an injured Roethlisberger and a missing Ryan Clark, I don’t see God helping Tebow.  The Steelers defense is tenacious right now and cannot miss a step if they wanted to.  It is possible that the Steelers D could play all 60 minutes and still administer a blowout.

Divisional Round
New England Patriots d. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are a fun team to watch, but I do not believe they have the firepower to match with New England.  I think that New England will start their campaign of putting together complete games starting with this one.

Baltimore Ravens d. Pittsburgh Steelers
It is tough for me to pick the Ravens in this one.  I think they have less talent at almost every position than the Steelers and are coached worse.  However, Roethlisberger will still be injured in a way that might let him be contained.  The Ravens D has been waiting for a Steelers team with an immobile quarterback and that is why they have the advantage.  If the Steelers do pull out this game, they are my clear favorites to win the Super Bowl.

AFC Championship
New England Patriots d. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore has yet to win after winning an emotional game this season.  If they beat the Steelers, they will most definitely lose to the Patriots.  I do not believe that the Ravens are as disciplined as in previous years and they really do not have an answer to an elite, healthy quarterback like Brady.  Though the Ravens D is probably the best defense overall this year, they have no playmakers to cover the Patriots offense.  Sadly, the Patriots will not have to play much pass defense because Flacco cannot pass in the postseason.  This will be a defining game for Ray Rice.  If the Ravens pull this out, I do not see how they can win the Super Bowl without Flacco being something different than his playoff record shows.

NFC
Wildcard Round
New Orleans Saints d. Detroit Lions
I would love for the Lions to win here, but I think their lack of maturity and experience will overtake them here.  New Orleans is currently the hottest team in the NFL and are having a special season.  It may be a shootout, a blowout, or even a low scoring game, but the Saints have a few running backs whereas the Lions do not.  All of that being said, the Lions are my sleeper/darkhorse team this year.  If they can beat the Saints, they might be unstoppable until they play the Patriots, Ravens, or Steelers.

Atlanta Falcons d. New York Giants
As a born and raised Cowboys fan, can you really expect me to pick the Giants?  I do not like Atlanta this year at all.  I think they are frauds and somehow played better than Arizona, Dallas, and Seattle.  But they are hot right now and the Giants are playing on fumes.  Though the score indicated differently, the Giants could not stop the competitive spirit out of the Cowboys offense.  If Dallas had a secondary this year, they would not only have won the game, they would probably be a two or three seed.  The Falcons have a much better secondary than the Cowboys.  They also have a power running game, which quickly knocks the air out of a pass rush defense with no linebackers.  Matt Ryan is just good enough with a just good enough offensive line and just good enough receivers to get some touchdowns.  The wildcard in this game is Eli Manning.  The throws he made against the Cowboys should have been embarrassing, but they worked.  Victor Cruz is unstoppable as long as the ball is near him with horrible coverage.  As a player I despise Manning, but I give him respect for this season finally playing like a number one draft pick.  I just do not think anyone on the Giants outside of Manning, Cruz, and the Giants defensive line want to play.

Divisional Round
New Orleans Saints d. San Francisco 49ers
If the 49ers win this game, they will finally have beaten a good team without serious injuries at a respectable time.  Their record is mostly fluff.  Their defense has not had to play many good offenses and their offense has not had to play many good defenses.  I think the Saints will be the first real game and I think that John Harbaugh will lose his first playoff game as a coach.  I love everything Harbaugh has done with his team.  I actually really like Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree and most of the 49ers.  I would love to see them advance and have Alex Smith vs. Aaron Rodgers for the NFC Championship game as a matchup of the two quarterbacks who were drafted in the same year together.  I do not think the defense will stop Brees, the hottest quarterback right now.  I think Frank Gore and Alex Smith will be hit behind the line many times by the unheralded defense of the Saints.

Green Bay Packers d. Atlanta Falcons
I can see the revenge angle from the Falcons from last year’s playoffs.  I just don’t see how they will beat the best quarterback in the league.  If the Giants play the Packers, I would say it would be over by halftime.  The Falcons will make it to halftime within a 12 point margin.  Then, after the first Packer possession, the Falcons will start packing their bags.

NFC Championship
Green Bay Packers d. New Orleans Saints
I really like the Saints this year.  Maybe it is because they cut ties with Reggie Bush.  Brees is the best quarterback that is not named Aaron Rodgers this year.  Cold weather game in Green Bay.  How do the Packers not win this?  Brees cannot afford to have incompletions.  Saints’ running backs will have to average five yards a carry.  The defense will have to play lights out.  Rodgers and Matt Flynn will have to be injured.  That is how the Saints can win this game.  The only other way the Saints can advance is for the Giants to win against both the Falcons and Packers.  Manning might be able to  win on the Frozen Tundra, but not in the Superdome.

Super Bowl
New England Patriots d. Green Bay Packers
I don’t like the conventional pick of the Packers.  They are solid this year, too solid.  I love Aaron Rodgers more than I love Tom Brady right now, but I think this is the game where the Patriots D finally puts together a complete game.  Belichick mentored Romeo Crennel, the only coach to beat the Packers this year.  The Patriots have much more talent than the Chiefs have this year on defense.  They also have more offense.  In a potential shootout between these two teams, I could see a very low scoring game.  Calling it now: Patriots 13, Packers 7

Super Bowl – Scenario 2
New Orleans Saints d. New England Patriots
Coaching wise, I think this game would be a dream to watch.  Belichick vs. Payton.  Unlike Green Bay, I think Brees will score points in this game.  He might even break Steve Young’s touchdown record.  I also see Brady breaking some records as well.  I see this game coming down to the last possession.  The Patriots win if they score with no time left on the clock.  The Saints win if they score with a minute left on the clock.  That is the difference.  For fun: Saints 63, Patriots 56

Super Bowl – Dream Game
Houston Texans d. Detroit Lions
Because it is so improbable, I love this matchup.  Only Denver would have less of a chance than the Texans to win this game.  Maybe at the coin flip, the captains of each team could agree to a tie just to rub the NFL wrong!  This would be the validation Super Bowl.  3rd Stringer vs. 1st year not injured at quarterback (and then Stafford will get injured in the first quarter to make it a bit more fair).  The best receiver of the past decade vs. the best receiver for the next decade (yet neither will catch a touchdown pass).  Half of our defense is injured vs. our defense is pretty much our defensive line.  Wade Phillips winning a Super Bowl!… as a defensive coordinator.  Kubiak proving he is a better coach than his mentor Mike Shanahan because he could make a Super Bowl without a future Hall-of-Famer.  Jim Schwartz loses because of karma.  Suh sets the record for sacks in a game and Super Bowl with 10!  The reason the Texans win?  They have a solid running game, a better offensive line, a secondary, and a not-too-shabby kicker.

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