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NFL Playoffs 2013: Complete Guide to Entire Postseason

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystOctober 1, 2015

NFL Playoffs 2013: Complete Guide to Entire Postseason

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    It seems like it just started, but the 2012 NFL regular season is already in the books.

    The excitement is only just beginning, however, as next week begins the postseason tournament that will culminate February 3 when two teams meet in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.

    There is sure to be plenty of action and surprises galore once the NFL's final 12 teams get together to battle for the Lombardi Trophy. Here's an in-depth playoff preview, from TV schedules to projections for each round and more.

NFL Playoffs TV Schedule

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    The 2013 NFL Playoffs kick off on Saturday, January 5 and conclude with Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Sunday, February 3, featuring approximately 37 hours of pregame coverage in total.

    As usual, the first two rounds of the playoffs will feature action both Saturday and Sunday and the 2013 Pro Bowl, lost in the postseason hype, will be played on the weekend between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

    All times are ET and subject to change

    Wild Card Round

    Date

    Time

    Away

    Home

    TV

    1/5/13

    4:00 P.M.

    Cincinnati Bengals

    Houston Texans

    NBC

    1/5/13

    8:00 P.M.

    Minnesota Vikings

    Green Bay Packers

    NBC

    1/6/13

    1:00 P.M.

    Indianapolis Colts

    Baltimore Ravens

    CBS

    1/6/13

    4:30 P.M.

    Seattle Seahawks

    Washington Redskins

    FOX

    Divisional Round

    Date

    Time

    Away

    Home

    TV

    1/12/13

    4:00 P.M.

    TBD

    Denver Broncos

    CBS

    1/12/13

    8:00 P.M.

    TBD

    San Francisco 49ers

    FOX

    1/13/13

    1:00 P.M.

    TBD

    Atlanta Falcons

    FOX

    1/13/13

    4:30 P.M.

    TBD

    New England Patriots

    CBS

    Conference Championship

    Date

    Time

    Away

    Home

    TV

    1/20/13

    3:00 P.M.

    TBD

    TBD

    CBS or FOX

    1/20/13

    6:30 P.M.

    TBD

    TBD

    CBS or FOX

    Super Bowl XLVII

    Date

    Time

    Away

    Home

    TV

    2/3/13

    6:30 P.M.

    TBD

    TBD

    CBS

AFC Wild Card Round Preview

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    Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4): With 12 wins, the Houston Texans had their best season in franchise history but, after losing three of their last four games, the Texans squandered both home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and a bye week this week.

    Instead, they set themselves up for a rematch of last year's Wild Card game between the Texans and Cincinnati Bengals, a game that the Texans won handily in what served as defensive end J.J. Watt's coming-out party, as the then-rookie ran an interception back for a score and recorded both a sack and pass defensed.

    There's no reason to think this year will be much different.

    Projected Winner: Houston Texans

    Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6): This game is a shining example of how much can change in one NFL season.

    At the beginning of the year, the question of who would win a game between perennial playoff contender Baltimore and an Indianapolis Colts team that won all of two games last year would have elicited a chuckle.

    No one's laughing now, as the Colts have ridden the emotion of their coach "Chuckstrong" and the arm of rookie Andrew Luck to 11 wins, while the Ravens backed into the postseason, having lost four of their last five.

    These are two teams trending in opposite directions and the Ravens have too many injuries on defense to be able to slow Luck and the Colts' aerial attack.

    Projected Winner: Indianapolis Colts

NFC Wild Card Round Preview

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    Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5): Much like the Indianapolis Colts, the Minnesota Vikings made great strides in 2012 with a young talent base, going from three wins last year to 10 this season.

    That they were able to do so with an offense reminiscent of 1950's-style football is even more remarkable.

    Running back Adrian Peterson may not have broken Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, but the sixth-year pro's 199 yards on the ground in Week 17 was enough to propel the Vikings past the Green Bay Packers and into the playoffs.

    That sets up another game against the Packers next week at Green Bay and, while the Vikings were able to top the Packers at the Metrodome, doing so two games in a row is an awfully tall order - even for "All Day."

    Projected Winner: Green Bay Packers

    Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6): The dominant storyline entering this game will no doubt be the quarterbacks, as two of this season's scintillating rookie signal callers will face off: Robert Griffin of the Redskins and Russell Wilson of Seattle.

    However the game will also showcase two of the NFL's best bruisers at running back in the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch and Washington's Alfred Morris. Indeed, the game may come down to who does a better job stopping the run and avoiding costly mistakes.

    For that reason, the Seahawks should emerge with the win, as they're flat out the better team on the defensive side of the ball.

    Projected Winner: Seattle Seahawks

AFC Divisional Round Preview

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    (Teams in Italics are projected winners from Wild Card Round)

    Houston Texans (12-4) at New England Patriots (12-4)

    Not only did the Texans lose their week off by falling to the Colts in Week 17, but that defeat also sets up a much harder path to New Orleans for the Texans. It now goes through New England, a place that Houston likely isn't in any hurry to return to after getting blasted by the Patriots 42-14 in Week 14.

    That lopsided loss exposed a Houston secondary that is their Achilles heel on defense and, at home in the postseason, Tom Brady will feast on Houston's secondary yet again in an easy win for the Patriots.

    Projected Winner: New England Patriots

    Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Denver Broncos (13-3)

    Well this is just going to be weird.

    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is enjoying an MVP-caliber season in 2012 and Denver's blowout win over the Kansas City Chiefs (the team's 11th straight) affords the Broncos home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

    Still, as great a season has Manning has had, you have to think it will feel strange for Manning to line up under center, look up at his opponent and see the Indianapolis Colts on the other side of the ball.

    At least it will for a moment, before Manning gets down to business, carving up a Colts secondary that ranked a mediocre 19 in the NFL against the pass this season.

    Projected Winner: Denver Broncos

NFC Divisional Round Preview

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    (Teams in italics are projected winners from Wild Card round))

    Green Bay Packers (11-5) at San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)

    Football fans everywhere should be hoping for this matchup, because it would be a treat.

    The Packers' loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17, coupled with a 49ers win over the Arizona Cardinals, handed San Francisco the NFC's second seed and a first round bye, giving the team an extra week to prepare for this rematch of a Week 1 thriller.

    That game was won by the 49ers due in large part to a stellar effort from their formidable defense but, at some point, a team is going to go on the road in the Divisional Round and win a game.

    The best bet to do that this season would appear to be the Packers, who have an offense capable of scoring on anyone and a defense that will likely throw packages at 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick that the youngster has never seen on a football field.

    Projected Winner: Green Bay Packers

    Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

    Even after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17, the Atlanta Falcons enter the 2013 playoffs as the top-seed in the NFC, yet many fans of the team are probably just a little terrified.

    They have reason, as the team was in the same situation in 2010 and got absolutely drilled 48-21 in their first playoff game by the Green Bay Packers.

    Unfortunately for the Falcons, the matchup gods have not been at all kind this season, assuming that the Seahawks survive the Wild Card round.

    If there's one team in the NFLthat can match up with Atlanta's talented wide receiver duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White, it's the Seahawks, who possess a pair of big, physical cornerbacks in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner along with Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas.

    Upset special.

    Projected Winner: Seattle Seahawks

Conference Championships Preview

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    New England Patriots (12-4) at Denver Broncos (13-3): You know it had to come to this: Tom Brady of the Patriots vs. Peyton Manning of the Broncos, with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.

    The future Hall of Fame quarterbacks have met twice in their careers under similar circumstances, each winning once, so you can just add that to the approximately 9,000 subplots this matchup would have.

    The Broncos lost to the Patriots 31-21 in New England back in Week 5, but not only is this a much different Broncos team than it was earlier in the year, but that was the last time Denver lost a game.

    With the way they're playing, it might not happen again this season.

    Projected Winner: Denver Broncos

    Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Green Bay Packers (11-5): Speaking of subplots, an NFC title game between these two teams would be dominated by one: The "Fail Mary".

    The infamous play that decided the Week 3 matchup between these two teams would no doubt be the hot topic of discussion leading up to the rematch, with pundits dissecting the effect that that one blown call had on both teams' seasons.

    Then the game would start and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers would go to work carving up a Seattle team that I just can't see winning three playoff games in a row on the road.

    Projected Winner: Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl XLVII Preview

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    Denver Broncos (13-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (11-5): This game would provide an exciting Super Bowl matchup for a number of reasons.

    In Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, you have arguably the top two quarterbacks in the National Football League going at it, each with a receiving corps that enables them to light up opposing defenses seemingly at will.

    Then you have linebackers Clay Matthews of the Packers and Von Miller of the Broncos, two of the NFL's top young pass rushers, with 13 and 18.5 sacks, respectively. They would be charged with keeping those prolific passers under wraps.

    It's a game that could easily become a back-and-forth shootout won by whichever team last puts the ball in the hands of a signal caller in search of his second Super Bowl title.

    Much to little brother Eli's chagrin this year, that will be Manning.

    Projected Super Bowl Champion: Denver Broncos

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