NFL Playoffs 2012: Predicting the Road to Super Bowl XLVI

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NFL Playoffs 2012: Predicting the Road to Super Bowl XLVI
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Someone will take the Vince Lombardi Trophy away from the 2010 Green Bay Packers.

History tells us it is not likely to be the 2011 Green Bay Packers: Only one time in the last 12 years has the previous champion repeated, and that has not happened since 2004.

The first week could have changed my predictions from those I did for each division (click these links to read previews of the NFC West, NFC South, NFC North, NFC East, AFC South, AFC West, AFC East and AFC North). After all, statistics show that over twice as many teams winning in the first week make the playoffs than teams losing since the league went to the 16-game format.

If we were to take something away from the first week, it would be that the NFC North is vastly superior to the more highly-touted NFC South, winning all three games head-to-head (including the season kickoff reviewed at the link). So based on that pattern, no one from the NFC South is likely to make the playoffs.

The truth is that a lot of the game has changed in the last few years. For instance, last season, seven teams that won their season-opener failed to finish above .500, and six opening week losers managed to win more than half their remaining games.

Thus, there are only two change I will make from my original picks in the above links:

1. Houston will beat out Indianapolis in the AFC South, not because of their win head-to-head, but because Peyton Manning will miss at least half the season.

2. San Diego will beat Kansas City in the AFC West. As I said in my NFC North preview, watching the Chiefs play changed my mind about their readiness...

"Sure, they won last year and got better in the offseason, while the vastly overrated San Diego Chargers got worse for the second year in a row. But if you have to play some of your starters a full game to get them going, you do not have a winner’s mentality. If those players cannot even beat Packers who were cut, you do not have winner’s talent."

I will ignore the rest of first week and stick with my original predictions, with each slide being a game of the playoffs...

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