2012 NFL Playoffs: Why There Is No Clear-Cut Super Bowl Favorite This Season

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: The Vince Lombardi Trophy is help up after the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For a season that seemed unlikely to happen several months ago, it sure did not disappoint.

Jared Allen, Jason Babin and DeMarcus Ware terrorized quarterbacks all season. Three quarterbacks eclipsed the 5,000-yard mark, including Drew Brees shattering Dan Marino's long-standing record. Tim Tebow mania became rampant. Jerome Simpson, Victor Cruz, Rob Gronkowski, Aldon Smith, Von Miller and Laurent Robinson became household names. 

This year's NFL season was defined by individual breakout performances. 

As the playoffs near, the one thing this season was missing has begun to stick out; the playoffs lack a dominant team. All 12 teams in the field appear to have a legitimate shot of going to and winning this year's Super Bowl. 

With the two best records this season and having two of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL at their disposal, most would argue Green Bay and New England have the easiest path to the big game. Others may argue that New Orleans will be the NFC representative, and Baltimore or Pittsburgh will be the AFC representative. 

If Tebow's season of "luck" or—rewinding back a few years—the Arizona Cardinals' surge to a Super Bowl appearance in 2008 has taught us anything, it's that the NFL is very unpredictable.

Nobody thought Seattle would beat New Orleans in last year's playoffs, but they did. Outside of diehard fans, very few think Detroit can go into the Superdome and defeat New Orleans this weekend. The same goes for Denver as they prepare to face Pittsburgh. 

Playing against a solid defense can hurt the high-powered offensive teams. The what-ifs are plentiful. It simply comes down to who gets hot and makes the big plays at the right moment.