The NFL playoffs are upon us. Our Kansas City Chiefs will be watching from their couches with the rest of us. A disappointment? Maybe. If you were one of the few, like me, who picked the Chiefs to win 10 games and represent the AFC West in the playoffs for the second consecutive season, then yes, 2011 was a disappointment.
However, if you were part of the masses who picked the Chiefs to win 4-6 games due to their “tough” schedule, you can be nothing except satisfied and enthusiastic for 2012. Seven wins to close out the season for the Chiefs, one shy of the division title without the best two players on the roster (Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles), missing the starting quarterback for nearly half the season, starting tight end for the entire season and the now-underrated Jon McGraw to fill in for the missing Eric Berry for a chunk of the season, all in all is not too bad.
Without our Chiefs, who do you like to win the Super Bowl? Here are my predictions:
Remember, the NFL reseeds matchups after every round, so the highest seed always plays the lowest
1 New England
6 Cincinnati @ 3 Houston
I really like how Cincinnati has played in 2011, a shock, actually. The very young Bengals have come together quickly after kicking Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens out of town. Rookie QB Andy Dalton is my pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but it is hard to leave rookie WR AJ Green out of that conversation as well. I’m taking Cincinnati to upset.
5 Pittsburgh @ 4 Denver
Is there really anyone who follows football who believes Denver can win this game? The Broncos don’t deserve to be in the playoffs and have no chance to advance. Honestly, I believe Denver is the worst team in the AFC West, right now.
5 Pittsburgh @ 1 New England
Pittsburgh simply seems to be the team year after year that wins regardless of pitfalls. The o-line is torn to shreds, Ben Roethlisberger is ALWAYS banged up and RB Rashard Mendenhall is lost to a torn ACL. That being said, Pittsburgh still has one of the toughest defenses in the NFL and goes up against New England, with one of the softest defenses in the NFL. I will take Pittsburgh to assist Tom Brady in laying a goose egg… No, not points… Production.
6 Cincinnati @ 2 Baltimore
It has been a nice ride for the Brengals, but the Ravens will be too much for them. Baltimore looks really good to me right now and if Joe Flacco keeps playing at his current level, the Ravens may be Super Bowl bound.
5 Pittsburgh @ 2 Baltimore
A defensive matchup in the AFC Championship. It’s this type of game old-school purists dream of. As mentioned previously, I like the Ravens right now and even less of a running game than the norm in 2011, will mean defeat for the Steelers.
1 Green Bay
2 San Francisco
6 Detroit @ 3 New Orleans
Most likely the highest scoring Wildcard Weekend game… Of course, now that I’ve said it, we will be watching a 6-3 showdown. Seriously, though, I hope this game just rolls offensively from beginning to end. Both teams have stellar offenses and can score on anyone at any time. The game may come down to the final possession. In that case, I will take the Saints to make at least one stop in this game and win.
5 Atlanta @ 4 New York
I usually am not a New York Giants fan, and the same holds true now, but the Giants have looked fantastic in weeks of late. Victor Cruz has become a legit NFL stud as an undrafted rookie WR. Oh ya, by breaking nearly every New York Giants receiving record. The Falcons have looked horrible on many occasions in 2011. I like the momentum of the Giants to keep going.
4 New York @ 1 Green Bay
Nearly perfect on the season. A repeat trip to the Super Bowl is the only thing that wouldn’t mean failure for the Green Bay Packers. This team is amazing, even with one loss, may be the best ever in the NFL. The Green Bay defense gives up a ton of yards, but comes away with a lot of turnovers. Green Bay advances.
3 New Orleans @ 2 San Francisco
For the last handful of years, experts, analysts and fans alike have picked the 49ers to break-out and succeed in the NFC West. 2011 was finally that year. A stout defense and ball protecting offense have given the 49ers the #2 seed. This, however, is where it ends. Alex Smith is not even close to good enough to match the offense of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Frank Gore looks as if he has hit a wall, becoming nearly inconsequential toward the end of the regular season. Saints roll.
3 New Orleans @ 1 Green Bay
Converse to the AFC, in the NFC we have an all-world offensive matchup in the Conference Championship. Another game that could come down to whoever has the ball last. Again, I like the Packers… But this one should be exciting!
2 Baltimore v. 1 Green Bay
Well, football fans, here is you chance to prove you’re right when you say defense wins championships, or the other way around if you believe defense is for “old timers.”
This should be an exciting matchup for any fan. I like the offense of the Packers to play well (duh), but that is not what will win the Packers the game. I believe the game will be relatively low scoring for the Pack, and the game will come down to Joe Flacco making a critical mistake… Remember way back, I said Joe Flacco and Matt Cassel are pretty much the same QB… You wouldn’t pick Matt Cassel to win the Super Bowl, would you?
Let me know who you are picking in the comments below!