With the 2012-13 NFL playoffs approaching fast, the excitement over which teams are currently projected to sneak into the postseason via each wild-card spot is through the roof.
There are many teams fighting for the final two playoff spots in the AFC and NFC, and the following weeks will determine exactly where they finish.
All of the following franchises will back into the playoffs via a wild-card spot, but each could make a serious splash before all is said and done.
AFC Wild Cards
While the Indianapolis Colts are still very rough around the edges—a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck and a porous defense—they are still in a great position to sneak into the playoffs this season as an AFC Wild Card.
If the Colts can get any kind of running game to close the season—the emergence of Vick Ballard has been a welcomed addition—Indianapolis could not only sneak into the playoffs, but make a real impact.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers looked terrible without Ben Roethlisberger under center, the fact that the veteran is back and getting healthier by the week will make the team Super Bowl contenders and playoff-bound once again.
The Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals next week, and that will go a long way in deciding which of the AFC North squads steals the final wild-card spot.
If Pittsburgh can protect Big Ben, this team will be a legitimate contender.
NFC Wild Cards
There are still serious protection issues for Jay Cutler that the Chicago Bears must work out, but the strength of their defense and the offensive weapons at Cutler’s disposal make the team a legitimate threat to steal a wild-card spot.
If the Bears can continue to play the stingy defense that has made them a legitimate playoff contender for most of the season, they will not only make the playoffs, but they will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender once they make the postseason.
Despite being an awful road team that will likely be bounced in the first round of the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks are a team predicated on tough defense and a great running game.
That’s a recipe for postseason success.
If the team can minimize how much quarterback Russell Wilson must do to win the game and allow running back Marshawn Lynch to control the clock, there is little doubt that Seattle could sneak into the playoffs via the last NFC wild-card spot.
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