In the NFL, it's not how you start that matters most—it's how you finish.
The Seattle Seahawks are ready for a second-half surge that will propel them into the playoffs, and given the makeup of this team, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see it make a deep run.
The Seahawks aren't the only team I'm expecting big things from in the second half of the 2012 season, though. These three teams are going to blow the hinges off the rest of the 2012 season to earn a spot in the playoffs.
The Seahawks have already started their second-half surge in earnest, winning their last two games to get the second half started with a bang.
Now, they'll take a week off to rest, get healthy and prepare for a final push that will at least earn them a wild-card spot in the playoffs—if not the No. 1 seed in the NFC West.
Russell Wilson has been on fire the past month, discounting his one miserable performance in San Francisco against the 49ers, throwing 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His ability to use his legs to either stretch the play for a big pass or take off altogether for a big gain on the ground have made him a dangerous weapon for Pete Carroll's offense.
Combined with a non-stop assault on the ground with Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, the Seahawks' offense has started catching up to the team's elite defense.
The Seahawks have a couple of tough road tests coming up on the schedule after their bye, with games at Miami and Chicago. After that, it's smooth sailing, with three of four games at home—where they haven't been beaten in 2012 and where they should win—and one against San Francisco.
Prediction: The Seahawks will win four of their remaining six games, finishing the season with a record of 10-6 and a wild-card spot in the playoffs, where they'll be a tough team to beat.
The Steelers are primed for a second-half explosion that will see this team take first place away from the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.
Ben Roethlisberger is having another exemplary season. He and his teammates on offense seem to be taking to Todd Haley's leadership more and more each week. Once Rashard Mendenhall comes back from his injury, this offense will be even more dangerous.
Combined with another solid Steelers defense, this team has the makings of a Super Bowl contender.
The Steelers have yet to play the Ravens this season, and this team will face AFC North opponents five more times before the end. There isn't a single game left on the schedule the Steelers can't win.
Prediction: Steelers will win seven of their remaining eight games, finishing the season with a record of 12-4.
It's hard to believe that Peyton Manning is playing as well as he is after four neck surgeries last year.
He has the Denver Broncos surging, along with an ever-improving defense, and the team's second-half schedule is as soft as it comes.
Von Miller has become one of the game's truly elite players at any position. His ability to cover ground and make plays in open space is impressive, and his ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks is off the charts.
Out of the team's seven remaining games, four are against the AFC West and one is against the Cleveland Browns (all of which the Broncos should easily win). The other two will be a bit more of a challenge, as they'll host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will hit the road to face the Baltimore Ravens.
Prediction: The Broncos will win six of their last seven, finishing the year with a record of 12-4.
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