With the NFL season having just wrapped up, early playoff predictions for 2012 are going to look a lot like the 2011 season, at least until free agency gets underway.
As Super Bowl champions, the Giants automatically make the cut, especially considering the manor in which they persevered in order to reach the playoffs this past season. Finishing with a 9-7 regular season record after losing four straight from Week 10 to Week 13, New York won seven of their last eight games.
The New England Patriots are another “gimme” considering the unmatched success Brady and Belichick have had as a coaching-quarterback duo. It may seem that Eli Manning has the upperhand on Brady, but he is still not a player to bet against when it comes to the playoffs.
For the rest of the NFC, as long as free agency goes as planned, look for the Saints to again be in the playoffs in 2012, along with the Packers, Lions, and 49ers, with the Panthers as the surprise team, and the Bears and Falcons on the outside posing the most threat.
Looking at the AFC, the Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers all have what it takes to again put three teams in the playoffs for the North. With Schaub back, the Texans should have the upperhand to come out of the South, and San Diego will be the team to redeem themselves and round out the pool.
Other teams in the AFC who could earn spots, strongly depending on quarterback play, are the Broncos, Jets, Colts and Bills.
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