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NFL Playoff Predictions 2013: Predicting AFC Wild Card Round

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 23:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Pete SchauerCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2012

Week 16 of the 2012 NFL season saw the AFC's six top teams officially assure themselves of a playoff appearance.

While the seeding can still change in Week 17, we know which six teams will be playing January football, and thus can make playoff predictions for the AFC Wild Card Round.

I like the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos to hang onto their first-round byes with wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs in the final weekend of the regular season.

The New England Patriots will get a win over the Miami Dolphins to remain the No. 3 seed, while the Baltimore Ravens find a way to take down Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals to keep their four seed.

Since I have the Colts and Bengals each losing in Week 17, that means they will remain at their current seeds, with Indy being the five and Cincinnati being the six.

Assuming those are the final seeds entering the Wild Card Round, here's how I see it playing out:

 

Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots

As much as I like what Cincinnati is doing defensively, I can't go against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

New England has won eight of its last nine and has too much offense for Dalton and the Bengals offense to keep up with.

Cincinnati is No. 10 against the pass but New England boasts the fourth-best passing offense in the NFL, and in this case, I like the offense to overpower the defense.

The difference in this game will be that the Patriots actually have a running game (No. 8 in the NFL), which will keep the Bengals defense on their toes.

Dalton and the Bengals have been impressive this year, but it's all Brady and the Pats in this matchup.


Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts 

This game is interesting because Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens are extremely inconsistent while the Indianapolis Colts seem to be surrounded by magic and the heart behind the Chuck Strong movement.

On paper, it would appear that the Ravens should win this game, but in all honesty, I'm rolling with Andrew Luck and the Colts.

Luck is more mobile than many give him credit for and he's shown that he doesn't shy away from the big stage.

Indianapolis should key in on stopping Ray Rice and making Flacco beat it through the air.

If the Colts defense can force a couple turnovers, I like Luck's chance to lead Indy to the next round.

 

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