|Logo of the National Football League Playoffs, 2011–present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I am disappointed that my Steelers flopped this year and didn't make the playoffs, but I felt like they got what they deserved. In my opinion, the losses to the pitiful Raiders, Browns, inconsistent Cowboys, and the hated Thugs a.k.a. Titans earned them an offseason at home. I did watch the last two weekends of games intently, though, because the outcomes would impact playoff seeds. When it was all said and done, my pick for Super Bowl Champ is a no-brainer, at least to me. So, I could make this a short post and just put it out there, but where would be the fun in that ?
NFC Wild-Card Games
- #6 seed
Washington DC (Photo credit: ktylerconk)
- #5 seed Seattle Seahawks @ #4 seed Washington Redskins - I think this matchup could be the best game of the playoffs. Both teams come in red-hot with the Seahawks winning their last five games and the Redskins winning their last seven led by rookie quarterback Archie Griffin III and rookie running back Alfred Morris. The 'Skins and 'Hawks ranked 1st and 3rd in rushing offense this year. The 'Skins defense was good at stopping the run, while the 'Hawks defense was better against the pass. RGIII is not yet 100%, so I think the 'Skins will pound the ball on the ground against The Birds. Couple that with having homefield advantage, and I'll take Washington in a close one.
- #3 seed Green Bay Packers @ #2 seed San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers have been a bit "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydish" this year. They've beaten Green Bay at Lambeau and New England in Foxboro. However, they've struggled in losses to the Giants and Vikings, had a close win and a blowout loss against the Seahawks, and a loss and tie against the lowly St. Louis Rams. However, I'm not sure the Packers have got what it takes to avenge their loss to the 49ers earlier in the season, especially since they are playing in San Fran. The 49ers defense has played well carrying the team at times. So, I'm gonna take the 49ers in this game.
- #4 seed Washington Redskins @ #1 seed Atlanta Falcons - This game is almost too easy to pick. Over the last few years, the Falcons have consistently had a great regular season and the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. However, they have also consistently "laid an egg" in the playoffs. There's no use taking much time to break this game down. This year is no different. The 'Skins will scalp the "Dirty Birds" in Atlanta to advance to the NFC Championship for the first time in 20 years.
NFC Championship - Washington Redskins @ San Francisco 49ers
As mentioned above, the 49ers have been a bit inconsistent this year. When you couple that with Frank Gore's slipping production at running back and the red-hot Redskins 8-game winning streak coming in, I think the 49ers are in trouble. The Redskins will "out-physical" the 49ers in a close game pulling off a big upset and preventing the 49ers from getting a shot at tying my Steelers with six Super Bowl titles.
I have been hard on the Redskins the last few years, referring to them as the "Deadskins" on multiple occasions. However, they have peaked at the right time. Perhaps all that money that Dan Snyder has spent over the years is finally paying off.
AFC Wild-Card Games
- #6 seed Cincinnati Bengals @ #3 seed Houston Texans - The Bengals are another team that is red-hot. They've won 7 of their last 8 and their last 3 in a row, which includes wins over their arch rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore just to get into the playoffs. The Texans, on the other hand, have crashed hard losing 3 of their last 4, including a 42-14 lashing by the Patriots in Foxboro. This game is a rematch of Wild-Card Weekend last year when the Texans won by three touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Texans, after starting the season 11-1, their crashing continues and 2012 will be known as "The Season That Could've Been." They are one and done getting a bad case of cat scratch fever from the Bengals. The Bengals next stop is Denver.
- #5 seed Indianapolis Colts @ #4 seed Baltimore Ravens - The Colts could be the surprise of the NFL this year. They've went from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 this year and made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback (Andrew Luck). The Ravens lost 4 of their last 5 to end the season. Until I learned of Ray Lewis' announcement that he would retire at the end of the Ravens playoff run, I intended to pick against the Ravens in this game. However, even though I can't stand Lewis due to being a Steelers fan, he has been the team's emotional leader for a long time. As much as I'd love to see Peyton Manning against the Colts in the playoffs, I think Lewis will get his team up for this game, Andrew's "Luck" will run out, and Baltimore advances to play the Patriots in Foxboro.
Patriots World Champions banners at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- #6 seed Cincinnati Bengals @ #1 seed Denver Broncos - Just as the Colts turnaround this year has been monumental, the Broncos improvement with the addition of Peyton Manning has been incredible as well. The Broncos made the playoffs as, in my opinion, a mediocre team last year. The team's decision to kick the non-NFL material quarterback named Tebow to the curb was the smartest thing the franchise has done in years. Manning's addition immediately turned them into a championship contender. The Bengals will be no match for the Broncos. "The Stallions" run wild all over "The Pussycats" by at least two touchdowns. Denver will host Baltimore in the AFC Championship.
AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos
|English: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis at the 2008 regular season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Peyton Manning is pissed over how the Colts threw him out on his butt after his neck injury. He has a chip on his shoulder after carrying that franchise on his shoulders for years. Personally, I felt like he was done wrong. He has proved this year he can still play and is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL.
In this game, Manning will dissect the aging Ravens defense and undersized secondary handily leading to Ray Lewis' retirement beginning at the conclusion of this game. Manning earns a trip to his third Super Bowl with a chance to win his second if he can beat the re-hot Redskins.
Super Bowl XLVII
vs. Denver Broncos
|Quarterback Peyton Manning talks with the press after the Indianapolis Colts met with President George W. Bush during their visit where they were honored for winning the 2007 NFL Super Bowl. Head coach Tony Dungy is behind Manning to the left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The answer is simple - no way, no how - absolutely not. Once the Broncos earned the #1 seed in the AFC, I knew who the Super Bowl XLVII Champion would be. It became a no-brainer. The Redskins have had a great, great run. Nobody expected them to get this far. However, as I mentioned earlier, Peyton Manning is pissed and taking it out on opposing defenses. The only thing that will make him happy is his second Lombardi Trophy. The game will be tight early, but Manning will eventually shred the "Deadskins" defense and teach RGIII a thing or two about playing quarterback in the NFL.
If Peyton Manning is not the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, I don't know who is. In Super Bowl XLVII, justice will be done. Peyton Manning will win his second Super Bowl, be awarded his second Super Bowl MVP, and bring the Broncos franchise it's third Lombardi Trophy.
Mark it down. You heard it from The Sheepdog first.