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NFL Playoff Scenarios: Which 12 Make Playoffs and Who Wins Super Bowl?

Bailey BrautiganFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2010

NFL Playoff Scenarios: Which 12 Make Playoffs and Who Wins Super Bowl?

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It's that time of year again, folks!

    It's time to start seriously thinking about the NFL postseason. There are plenty of teams who have a shot at making playoff appearances.

    With all of the parity in the league this year, we are sure to be in for some surprises as we near the end of the regular season.

    So which 12 teams will make the playoffs?

    And who will win the Super Bowl?

    Here are my predictions for the entire postseason...

AFC East Winner: New York Jets

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    At the start of the season, I thought that the New York Jets were nothing but hype.

    The Jets became self-proclaimed Super Bowl champs before they even played a regular season game.

    And I will admit that I gave Mark Sanchez a hard time simply because I didn't particularly care for him.

    But Gang Green proved me wrong. And Sanchez has matured before our eyes this season.

    The Jets take the AFC East and the No. 1 seed.

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    You know you saw this one coming!

    The AFC North is an extremely tough division. Even though the Baltimore Ravens are at the top, I expect the Steelers to win the rest of their divisional matchups.

    The Steelers squeak by the Ravens and take the No. 2 seed.

AFC West: San Diego Chargers

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Sure, the Chargers wait until November to get their season rolling.

    But luckily for San Diego, the AFC West is not exactly dominant.

    With the way Philip Rivers has been playing (two straight games with four touchdown completions each), the Bolts should have no problem topping their division and taking the No. 3 seed.

AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    This one is a long shot.

    But the Jags are at the top of their division, and they still have some very winnable games left on their schedule.

    The Indianapolis Colts may be an obvious choice for most. But I'm simply not convinced that this injury-ridden team can make a playoff run.

    The Colts still have to play the Chargers and a Raiders team that would love to play spoiler to Indy's playoff hopes (just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers).

    Don't assume a win over the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas has a new outlook on the season, and they could very well put up a big fight against the Colts.

    The Jags are fully capable of winning each of their final games if they capitalize on their building momentum.

AFC Wildcard 1: New England Patriots

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The New York Jets may take the AFC East, but I will be shocked if the New England Patriots don't make a playoff appearance.

    The Pats have made it through the toughest part of their schedule. It should be relatively smooth sailing moving forward.

AFC Wildcard 2: Baltimore Ravens

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Ravens have also already played most of their most difficult games this season.

    They will be almost neck-and-neck with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the top of the AFC North.

    That loss to the Cincinnati Bengals may keep them from winning their division. But they will finish with a better record than the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts.

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The NFC South is turning into a three-team slug fest between the Falcons, Saints and Buccaneers.

    But I honestly can't see the Falcons losing another game this season.

    The Falcons are the best team in their division, the best team in the NFC and maybe even the best team in the NFL.

NFC East Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Michael Vick has proved to be just what the doctor ordered for the Philadelphia Eagles.

    I can only see this team getting better.

    Explosive on offense. Solid on defense.

    The Philadelphia Eagles are the total package. They will take the NFC East and the No. 2 seed.

NFC North: Green Bay Packers

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    At the beginning of this NFL season, football experts everywhere had the Packers picked to play in the Super Bowl.

    The Pack hasn't disappointed us.

    The Lions and the Vikings have zero shot at the playoffs. The Chicago Bears will run into some trouble with the Eagles, Patriots, Jets and Packers despite some great momentum.

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The NFC West is arguably the weakest division in the NFL.

    But unfortunately, one of these teams will take the playoff spot away from a much better team (I'm looking at you, Tampa Bay).

    The Seattle Seahawks take the No. 4 seed as the top team in the NFC West.

NFC Wild Card 1: New Orleans Saints

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The reigning Super Bowl champs will get a chance at repeating history as they pass up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 2 spot in the NFC South.

    The Saints have a relatively easy schedule ahead of them. They should have no problem taking a Wild Card spot.

NFC Wild Card 2: New York Giants

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    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    With no real playoff contenders left in the NFC West and the Chicago Bears crashing soon, the New York Giants will step forward to claim the final Wild Card spot.

    The Giants started slow. Then they went on to win five games in a row.

    But then they fell to the Cowboys and the Eagles.

    Still, the Giants should beat the Vikings, sweep the Redskins and then add at least one more win for good measure.

AFC Wild Card Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars (4) vs. New England Patriots (5)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    I have to give the Jags props for making it this far.

    But Tom Brady will pick apart the weak Jacksonville secondary.

    The Jaguars will put up a fight with an excellent ground game. However, they won't be able to keep up with the Patriots on the scoreboard.

    Score

    Patriots 31, Jaguars 24

AFC Wild Card Matchup: San Diego Chargers (3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (6)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The San Diego Chargers are known for making big moves late in the season.

    The Ravens will be hungry for a shot at the Pittsburgh Steelers. But this matchup is extremely favorable for the Chargers.

    The Bolts have a better offense (especially through the air). Even though the Baltimore Ravens are known for their historically tough defense, the Chargers have the best overall defense in the league.

    The Bolts win this one, and it won't even be close.

    Score

    Chargers 35, Ravens 17

NFC Wild Card Matchup: Seattle Seahawks (4) vs. New Orleans Saints (5)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Didn't we just see this game?

    The Saints just defeated the Seahawks 34-19. We will be having Deja vu in the postseason.

    The Seahawks were able to put up some serious passing yards against one of the most talented secondaries in the league. But they could only score a single touchdown.

    New Orleans is explosive on both sides of the ball, and the Seahawks' playoff run will be short-lived.

    Score

    Saints 31, Seahawks 17

NFC Wild Card Matchup: Green Bay Packers (3) vs. New York Giants (6)

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    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    We will get a preview of this game in Week 16, and it will be the best game of the week!

    Two great quarterbacks.

    Two solid defenses.

    Forget best game of the week. This will be one of the best games of the season.

    In the end, the Giants' defense and ground attack will be too much for the Pack, and New York advances.

    Score

    Giants 24, Packers 20

AFC Divisional Matchup: New York Jets (1) vs. New England Patriots (5)

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    It is always exciting when the Jets play the Patriots.

    But mix in a shot at the Super Bowl, and you have a good, old-fashioned bloodbath.

    Even though this will be the third meeting between these two teams, who cares?

    These are two of the best teams in the league with two of the best coaches.

    So who gets the win?

    The Jets have struggled against the pass quite a bit this season. Then again, so have the Pats.

    New York looks better on paper. However, the Patriots will pull off the win in a very close game.

    Score

    Patriots 27, Jets 24

AFC Divisional Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers (2) vs. San Diego Chargers (3)

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The Steelers will be well-rested, and the Chargers may be a little banged up after defeating the tough Baltimore Ravens.

    But the Steelers have struggled against the pass all season. They will be well-matched on both sides of the ball.

    Pittsburgh's best bet will be to rely on their strong running backs. And the Steelers need to put some serious pressure on Philip Rivers.

    The Steelers will be a greater challenge than the Ravens were for the Chargers. But the outcome will be about the same.

    Score

    Chargers 21, Steelers 17

NFC Divisional Matchup: Atlanta Falcons (1) vs. New York Giants (6)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The New York Giants are a solid team on both sides of the ball.

    They are statistically better than the Falcons.

    But the Falcons are awesome at home. Matt Ryan will be in his element with some extra time off, and the Falcons will get the win.

    Score

    Falcons 31, Giants 24

NFC Divisional Matchup: Philadelphia Eagles (2) vs. New Orleans Saints (5)

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    This game will be all about offense.

    The Saints through the air and the Eagles on the ground.

    Drew Brees will do what he does best against the No. 13 pass defense in the league. Michael Vick will take turns with LeSean McCoy running over the No. 13 rush defense in the league.

    These two teams are definitely well-matched, but the Eagles have that "it" factor this season.

    This will be one of the Eagles' closest games. But as long as Michael Vick is still healthy, Philly gets the win.

    Score

    Eagles 34, Saints 31

AFC Championship: San Diego Chargers (3) vs. New England Patriots (5)

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The AFC Championship game will showcase two of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL.

    Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are both future Hall of Famers. This really could be anybody's game.

    As of right now, the Chargers look better statistically. But the Patriots have played some much tougher opponents.

    Stats are nice, but the Pats just know how to win football games.

    Score

    Patriots 27, Chargers 21

NFC Championship: Atlanta Falcons (1) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (2)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When these two teams met earlier in the season, the Eagles gave the Falcons a spanking (and that was with Kevin Kolb at quarterback).

    But this will be another home game for Atlanta.

    The Eagles defense simply won't be able to contain Matt Ryan, Roddy White or Michael Turner.

    The Falcons will win yet another close game in the Georgia Dome.

    Score

    Falcons 28, Eagles 24

Super Bowl: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    It makes sense that the best team in the AFC will meet the best team in the NFC for this season's Super Bowl.

    The young Falcons will be riding their high into Dallas. But the Patriots have been here before.

    Tom Brady will make sure that this game is not a repeat of Super Bowl XLII.

    He will earn his fourth ring.

    Score

    Patriots 31, Falcons 21

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