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NFL Playoff Picture 2013: 1 Roadblock in Each Team's Path to the Super Bowl

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 1, 2013

NFL Playoff Picture 2013: 1 Roadblock in Each Team's Path to the Super Bowl

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    There is always that one pesky roadblock that hurts a team's chances to make the Super Bowl. 

    Sometimes, the roadblock comes in the first round; in other instances, a team faces its toughest opponent in the conference title game.

    Who knows—if the New Orleans Saints could have tackled Marshawn Lynch on his epic and rather thunderous touchdown run a few years back, maybe Drew Brees would have won another championship. 

    Let's look at the most difficult roadblock for every team this postseason. 

Minnesota Vikings

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    Roadblock: San Francisco 49ers

    Certainly, the Minnesota Vikings won't have an easy time slowing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the opening round, but we saw in the season finale that Adrian Peterson and Co. are capable of beating the NFC North champs. 

    With Peterson spearheading the Vikings' offensive attack, the 49ers are the toughest roadbloack for Minnesota. 

    San Francisco allowed a mere 3.7 yards per rush on the ground in 2012 and would likely zero in on stopping the MVP candidate, thereby placing more responsibility on the sporadic Christian Ponder. 

    Yes, the 49ers were defeated by the Vikings earlier this year, but Jim Harbaugh's team has a different feel with Colin Kaepernick under center, and one has to imagine alterations to its game plan would be made. 

Green Bay Packers

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    Roadblock: Minnesota Vikings

    Adrian Peterson has averaged 200 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers this year, and in the cold confines of Lambeau Field in the opening round of the playoffs he certainly won't be any easier to tackle. 

    Teams like the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers would be difficult matchups for the the Pack, but with the Vikings riding high off their improbable run to the postseason and Peterson's magical campaign, Minnesota will carry an abundance of confidence into their playoff tilt with Green Bay. 

    Because they'll be dealing with a hot team that boasts a legit MVP candidate at the running back position, the Packers' toughest road block is Minnesota. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    Roadblock: Green Bay Packers

    The 49ers were the better team in Lambeau in early September, but much has changed since then. Aaron Rodgers is absolutely clicking, and he has his full complement of pass-catchers back. 

    The running game has received a jolt of life from DuJuan Harris. 

    The defense hasn't been stout, but with Rodgers operating the offense as efficiently as he has been with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb, Green Bay can beat anyone. 

Washington Redskins

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    Roadblock: Seattle Seahawks

    The Washington Redskins are cooking; however, they'll face their stiffest competition in the first round. 

    The funny thing is, the Seattle Seahawks bear a striking resemblance to the Redskins themselves. 

    Russell Wilson is as effective orchestrating his offense down the field as Robert Griffin III is, and they both have become terrors with the read-option. 

    According to Football Outsiders, only the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots scored more touchdowns per drive than the Redskins in 2012, but the Seahawks defense is downright nasty and likely has a firm grasp on what Washington will try to do offensively. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    Roadblock: San Francisco 49ers

    The Seahawks destroyed the 49ers in Seattle in Week 16, but San Francisco played without Justin Smith who is the most important piece along the defensive line. 

    With Smith presumably back, and playing at home, San Francisco is the team that knows the Seahawks the best. The 49ers handled Seattle earlier in the year at Candlestick Park.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Roadblock: Seattle Seahawks

    This one is easy. 

    The Atlanta Falcons are a very good team—winning 13 games in the regular clearly indicates that. 

    However, they struggle to stop the run and rely heavily on their passing attack to move the football. 

    Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch led the league's third-ranked running attack, an offense that averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 2012. 

    On defense, big and physical cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman would make everything extremely difficult for Julio Jones and Roddy White all game.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Roadblock: Houston Texans

    The Texans gashed the Bengals 31-10 in the playoffs a year ago, and although Cincinnati is better prepared this time around, the matchup still isn't a good one for Marvin Lewis' squadron. 

    J.J. Watt and the Houston defensive line can disrupt the sometimes shaky Andy Dalton, and the run-heavy offensive attack led by Arian Foster can undoubtedly wear down a defense. 

    At home, the Texans are a much better, more spirited team and will pose a formidable task for the Bengals in the opening round. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    Roadblock: New England Patriots

    The New England Patriots embarrassed Andrew Luck and the entire Indianapolis Colts club earlier in the season, and although Chuck Pagano's presence could add more defensive creativity to the team, Indianapolis simply doesn't have the talent on defense to slow down Tom Brady and Co. 

    It's that simple. 

Baltimore Ravens

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    Roadblock: New England Patriots

    A few controversial calls aided the Ravens in their win over the Patriots early in 2012 regular season, but with the way they've been playing now, New England is their toughest roadblock. 

    Baltimore's defense would have a significantly arduous time slowing down the Pats' rapid offensive attack, and New England's creative blitz packages would send Joe Flacco into one of his spells of ineptitude, especially playing in Foxborough. 

Houston Texans

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    Roadblock: New England Patriots

    The Patriots smacked around the Texans in prime time in New England. They gashed the defense and made Matt Schaub look average under center.

    While it's hard to envision New England thoroughly dominating Houston once again, it's even harder to see the Texans going into Tom Brady's house and beating him, isn't it? 

Denver Broncos

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    Roadblock: New England Patriots

    Peyton Manning's greatest postseason adversary is Tom Brady. He's the only quarterback that truly can play to his preeminent level in the most vital moments. 

    Brady's Pats beat the Manning's Broncos earlier in 2012, but Denver's play has drastically improved since then on both sides of the ball. 

    Hosting the Patriots would help the Broncos, but we all know Brady is capable of winning on the road, even in a hostile playoff atmosphere. 

New England Patriots

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    Roadblock: Denver Broncos

    Peyton Manning has been Tom Brady's greatest challenger for the last decade, and that hasn't changed this year. 

    Having to travel to Denver to face Manning will be tough for the Patriots, and not just because the Broncos' offense is on fire. 

    Von Miller poses a considerable threat on the edges, and John Fox's team lost only one game at home this season. 

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