NFL Playoff Bracket 2013: Power Ranking AFC Playoff Teams

Austin GreenCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2012

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 30:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 congratulates wide receiver Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos after the two connected for a touchdown during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on December 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The AFC is loaded with Super Bowl contenders, as all six teams bring something special to the postseason table.

From legendary quarterbacks to dominant skill players and fearsome defenders, every team has a few characteristics that make them capable of taking home the title.

While all six teams are dangerous, there is certainly a pecking order within the conference. Here's how my AFC playoff power rankings look right now.


6. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

The Ravens basically defined the phrase "backing into the playoffs." Baltimore has lost four of its last five games, including a 23-17 defeat to Cincinnati in Week 17.

Yes, backup QB Tyrod Taylor played most of that game. But even with Joe Flacco, I doubt the Ravens would have won. They have been playing very uninspired football lately, and I don't see them flipping the switch in the playoffs.

They still have Ray Rice and some great defensive players, so they will be dangerous. But I would be surprised if they make it out of the first round.


5. Houston Texans (12-4)

Like the Ravens, Houston is playing their worst football at the worst possible time. The Texans have lost consecutive games and three of their last four, including a 42-14 beatdown at the hands of the New England Patriots.

With Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and a strong defense, the Texans could certainly string together a run. Just don't be shocked if they get bounced in the first round.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Cincinnati has a solid quarterback in Andy Dalton, one of the NFL's best receivers in A.J. Green and perhaps the best defense in the AFC.

The Bengals' D ranks eighth in the NFL in opponents' points per game (20.0) and sixth in yards allowed per game (319.7). They haven't allowed more than 20 points since Week 9, and they are a major reason why the Bengals have won seven of their last eight games.


3. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

After starting just 2-3, the Colts finished the season 9-2 to reach the playoffs. They also avenged one of those two losses in Week 17, beating Houston 28-16.

Indy doesn't have a great defense or rushing attack, but the abilities of Andrew Luck allow them to overcome their deficiencies. The rookie QB ranks seventh in the league in passing yards (4,373), and his poise clearly inspires confidence in those around him.


2. New England Patriots (12-4)

The Patriots are my pick to win the Super Bowl, but after losing to San Francisco in Week 14 and coming out flat against Jacksonville in Week 15, I can't rank them No. 1 right now.

Of course, they came roaring back to almost beat the 49ers, and they did actually beat the Jaguars, so I'm not too worried about the Patriots. They've also already beaten three of the other five AFC playoff teams, taking down Denver (31-21), Indianapolis (59-24) and Houston (42-14).

I still think Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league, and with his massive arsenal of weapons, I can't see anybody stopping New England in the playoffs.


1. Denver Broncos (13-3)

The Broncos won their last 11 games of the season, and even though they were mostly feasting on bad teams, that streak is why they're ranked No. 1 right now.

Peyton Manning is playing out of his mind, his receiving corps is as good as any, and their defense is one of the stingiest in the league. They also have the advantage of playing at home throughout the playoffs.

Right now, this team is simply playing better than anybody else in the NFL. Don't be shocked if Manning wins his second Super Bowl, and first with Denver.

The postseason action kicks off this Saturday. Here's how the schedule currently looks.


Wild Card Round

Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
Cincinnati Houston 1/5/13 4:30 p.m. ET NBC
Minnesota Green Bay 1/5/13 8 p.m. ET NBC
Indianapolis Baltimore 1/6/13 1 p.m. ET CBS
Seattle Washington 1/6/13 4:30 p.m. ET FOX


Divisional Playoffs

Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
Bal/Ind/Cin Denver 1/12/13 4:30 p.m. ET CBS
GB/Wash/Dal/Sea San Francisco 1/12/13 8 p.m. ET FOX
Wash/Dal/Sea/Minn Atlanta 1/13/13 1 p.m. ET FOX
Hou/Bal/Ind New England 1/13/13 4:30 p.m. ET CBS


Conference Championships

Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info


Super Bowl XLVII

Team 1 Team 2 Date Time TV Info
AFC Winner NFC Winner 2/3/13 TBD