Predicting the 2012 NFL Playoff Brackett
The 2012 NFL playoff bracket won't be filled out for another six months. That shouldn't stop us from having fun and looking ahead to how it will all play out.
New entrants such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears will crash the party like they did in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals will take a step back. The North divisions will prove too strong for these up-and-coming teams to repeat their recent success. Their time is coming, though.
Click through to see how the 2012 NFL playoffs will unfold.
AFC Wild Card: Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
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The Buffalo Bills will win enough games to snatch the last Wild Card in the AFC.
However, they'll leave their winning ways in the regular season.
Tom Brady has been participating in playoff games for a decade. There is little chance that nerves will keep him performing well.
Throw in a ridiculous bevy of receiving talent that includes Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, and it's safe to say that the New England Patriots will be capable of overwhelming the Bills' defense.
The Bills are a fun team that will have little problem stopping the run. They just can't score enough points to keep up with the Pats' aerial attack.
New England Patriots 31, Buffalo Bills 17.
AFC Wild Card: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
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The Kansas City Chiefs have the talent to win the AFC West. They just don't have enough playmakers to counteract LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chiefs will engage in an epic defensive battle that will delight old-school football fans.
And as most fans know, few teams can match up with the Steelers in a defensive struggle.
Without Jamal Charles being able to run roughshod against the tough Steeler defense, Matt Cassell won't be able to use the play-action game. That's a large advantage for Pittsburgh as Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown will take care of the rest.
Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Kansas City Chiefs 10.
NFC Wild Card: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
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The NFC North is too tough to produce a bye week recipient and will threaten to include half of the NFC's playoff teams.
In the end, the Chicago Bears will end up with the same record as the Dallas Cowboys but be relegated to the last seed due to losing the regular season matchup.
After splitting the season series, the Green Bay Packers will ride Aaron Rodgers to a playoff win over their longtime rival. The home-field advantage will be too much to overcome as the game devolves into a high-powered shootout.
Green Bay Packers 35, Chicago Bears 28
NFC Wild Card: Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons
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Both the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons have plenty of exciting weapons on offense.
The difference between the two teams will come on defense.
The Dallas Cowboys' revamped secondary includes Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. These additions and the ever-reliable DeMarcus Ware will be enough to disrupt any rhythm between Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Dallas Cowboys 24, Atlanta Falcons 17.
AFC Divisional Round: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans
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The Houston Texans are an advanced version of the Kansas City Chiefs.
And the Pittsburgh Steelers are somewhere between the two teams.
Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Arian Foster form a trio that's a couple years ahead of the KC version. The Steelers won't roll over, but their young offensive line will have trouble handling J.J. Watt and company.
Houston Texans 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 14.
AFC Divisional Round: New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens
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Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens will be foaming at the mouth for a rematch of the previous year's AFC Championship Game.
Unfortunately, Tom Brady will see it as his personal redemption game.
The Ravens' defense fared well, but the New England Patriots' offense has replaced Chad Ochocinco with Brandon Lloyd to go along with a more experienced Rob Gronkowski.
Brady won't make the same mistakes twice.
Is Joe Flacco capable of matching that? Doubtful.
New England Patriots 35, Baltimore Ravens 24.
NFC Divisional Round: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
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Don't worry, Dallas Cowboys haters, Tony Romo will crash back to Earth quickly.
Justin Smith will ensure it.
The San Francisco 49ers will earn a week of rest by bullying their way through the NFC West. The defense has more talent in their front seven than some teams have in their starting 22.
The Cowboys won't be ready for them.
The Niner offense is improved enough that the team will win regardless of whether the defense pitches shutouts or not.
San Francisco 49ers 27, Dallas Cowboys 10.
NFC Divisional Round: Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
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The Green Bay Packers drafted Nick Perry to help Clay Matthews generate a consistent pass rush.
Yet, that's only part of the problem when dealing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
LeSean McCoy will be the key to this matchup. Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will reap the benefit of Green Bay's divided attention if the Pack focus too much on McCoy.
If Green Bay decides to focus on the passing game, McCoy will rack up yardage and keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands.
Joseph Heller described this as a Catch-22.
Andy Reid describes it as the secret to success.
Philadelphia Eagles 38, Green Bay Packers 28.
AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans
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The Houston Texans will reach new heights in 2012.
They will venture to the top of the AFC mountain after they dispose of the New England Patriots.
The task won't be simple. The same weapons that pushed the Pats past the Baltimore Ravens will test the young and athletic Texans' defense.
However, the Texans will be able to rely on Arian Foster to keep the ball away from Tom Brady, similar to when he dominated against the Cincinnati Bengals last season.
Houston Texans 27, New England Patriots 21.
NFC Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers
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This game is the most difficult to peg out of the entire bracket.
The San Francisco 49ers have a defensive front capable of bothering Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy.
The Philadelphia Eagles have the cornerbacks to neutralize the Niners' receiving additions while DeMeco Ryans engineers the run defense against Frank Gore.
When in doubt, take the best quarterback.
Vick is the easy selection over Alex Smith and will continue his ride to the pinnacle of the profession.
Philadelphia Eagles 24, San Francisco 49ers 13.
Super Bowl XLVII: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans
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In many ways, the 2013 Super Bowl will involve a couple similar fan bases.
Neither has gotten to hold the Lombardi Trophy, but has had teams that seemed destined for better things.
The Warren Moon-led Oilers broke fans' hearts by allowing backup quarterback Frank Reich to engineer an incredible comeback.
The Philadelphia Eagles spent the majority of the early 2000s threatening to win it all only to lose in dramatic fashion.
The Eagles' faithful will finally be rewarded for turning on their team. Michael Vick will upset millions of casual fans as he holds the Super Bowl MVP trophy high above his head while flashing his trademark smile.
Philadelphia Eagles 31, Houston Texans 21.