2014 NFL Playoff Schedule: Odds and Predictions for Every Team Left Standing

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2014

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws in the first half against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The 2014 NFL playoffs are finally here and 12 teams are left standing, all vying for a chance to become the next Super Bowl champions.

Every journey to the big game in New Jersey this February will be different, with some roads being much easier than others. However, any team that has the will and determination to rattle off a winning streak can be crowned champion, regardless of what the odds say.

Those odds are still worth noting and knowing, though, whether you plan to use them to bet on a potential champ or just to assess the chances of your favorite team making a title push.

Let’s take a look at the complete schedule for the upcoming postseason, highlight the odds of each team remaining winning the Super Bowl and check out my bold predictions for how the playoffs will shake out.

2014 NFL Playoff Schedule
RoundDate (Time)Visitor (Seed)Home (Seed)Broadcast/Stream Info
Wild CardJan. 4 (4:35 p.m. EST)Kansas City Chiefs (5)Indianapolis Colts (4)NBC
Wild CardJan. 4 (8:10 p.m. EST)New Orleans Saints (6)Philadelphia Eagles (3)NBC
Wild CardJan. 5 (1:05 p.m. EST)San Diego Chargers (6)Cincinnati Bengals (3)CBS
Wild CardJan. 5 (4:40 p.m. EST)San Francisco 49ers (5)Green Bay Packers (4)Fox
DivisionalJan. 11 (4:35 p.m. EST)Lowest NFC SeedSeattle Seahawks (1)Fox
DivisionalJan. 11 (8:15 p.m. EST)Highest AFC SeedNew England Patriots (2)CBS
DivisionalJan. 12 (1:05 p.m. EST)Highest NFC SeedCarolina Panthers (2)Fox
DivisionalJan. 12 (4:40 p.m. EST)Lowest AFC SeedDenver Broncos (1)CBS
AFC ChampionshipJan. 19 (TBA)TBATBACBS
NFC ChampionshipJan. 19 (TBA)TBATBAFox
Super Bowl XLVIIIFeb. 2 (6:30 p.m. EST)TBATBAFox
NFL.com
2014 Super Bowl Odds and Predictions
TeamOddsPrediction
Seattle Seahawks11-4Super Bowl Runner-Up
Denver Broncos11-4Lose in AFC Championship
San Francisco 49ers7-1Lose in NFC Wild Card Round
Carolina Panthers10-1Lose in NFC Championship
New England Patriots10-1Super Bowl Winners
Green Bay Packers14-1Lose in NFC Divisional Round
Philadelphia Eagles14-1Lose in NFC Divisional Round
Cincinnati Bengals18-1Lose in AFC Divisional Round
Kansas City Chiefs22-1Lose in AFC Wild Card Round
New Orleans Saints25-1Lose in NFC Wild Card Round
Indianapolis Colts25-1Lose in AFC Divisional Round
San Diego Chargers33-1Lose in AFC Wild Card Round
Bovada.lv

 

Predictions

Biggest Disappointment: San Francisco 49ers Falter in Wild Card

The Niners had an incredible season in a loaded NFC West, winning 12 games behind an elite running game and a dominant defense. Unfortunately, they are saddled with the No. 5 seed in the conference thanks to the 13-win Seattle Seahawks. That means a Wild Card Weekend road trip to Green Bay to take on the Packers in what may be one of the coldest games to ever be played.

According to Anna Fogel of NESN.com, the projected high at Lambeau Field on Sunday is a mere 2 degrees. It gets worse, however, as the expected low is down to minus-18 degrees with a wind chill making things feel close to minus-30 degrees.

Dec 1, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh talks to a referee between plays against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Rams 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In that kind of weather, throw all conventional knowledge and expectations out the window. While the Niners would undoubtedly win this one if was in a neutral territory and conditions were better, the combination of bitter, extreme cold weather and a rowdy crowd will doom them to an early playoff exit.

San Francisco is just 1-5 straight up away from Candlestick Park over its last six playoff contests. The team has struggled in recent years when forced to play on the road in the postseason, and the outcome should be a familiar one in a game that will be played in arctic temperatures.

Dec 22, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA;  Jeff Kahlow dressed up for the game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Remember, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb are back in action, and that alone should be enough to swing the game into Green Bay’s favor. While the two were clearly rusty in the season finale against the Chicago Bears, they connected on a critical 48-yard touchdown in the waning moments that secured a playoff berth for the Packers.

NFL on ESPN noted that Green Bay, unsurprisingly, is a better team when its starting signal-caller is on the field:

While Rodgers was in the lineup when the Packers faltered on the road to the Niners to open the 2013 campaign, things are much different now. The NFC North champions lost by only six points in that game and now have weather and home-field advantage (traditionally given a value of at least three points by bookmakers) in their favor.

Don’t be surprised when the Packers pull the upset and knock out the Niners in what should be one of the most intriguing and coldest games of all time.

 

Biggest Surprise: New England Patriots Win Super Bowl

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick holds The Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6, 2005.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Pats may not be the offensive juggernaut of years past, but they are a gritty, determined team that can beat anyone in the NFL when they are firing on all cylinders.

Even head coach Bill Belichick admitted this group is competitive, although in his usual cryptic nature, he declined to elaborate on where it ranks amongst teams he has overseen, per Howard Ulman of the the Associated Press (h/t SouthCoastToday.com):

We've had other tough, competitive teams. I don't know where one ranks or the other ranks but I certainly think this team has shown examples of that many times. ... I think we're going to need it going forward.

Being able to adapt to the situation at hand and close out games is what separates the wheat from the chaff in the playoffs, and no team has done that better than New England in 2013.

The team earned seven of its 12 wins by a touchdown or less and was in position to tie or take the lead in the final moments of each of its four losses.

Quarterback Tom Brady deserves much of the credit for his team’s success in these contests, stealing victories and displaying his poise by engineering a number of scoring drives in the last minute. 

Even more impressive, Brady has been doing it all without five of his top receiving options from last year. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead are all no longer playing for this team (although Gronkowski is just injured and should return next season) and left Brady with an unfamiliar, inexperienced receiving corps at the start of 2013.

He not only survived, but he also thrived after a rough start. While Brady’s numbers aren’t amazing, he has been getting the job done and has his offense looking more than capable enough to win a Super Bowl.

The road is tough, with an AFC Championship showdown in Denver likely, but this determined, persistent club can get the job done.