The 2012 NFL Playoff Wish List
It seems like only yesterday we were fretting over whether there would even be a 2011 NFL season. We got one, and somehow it's already just about finished.
With Week 16 in the books, it is about time to start taking a long hard look at the playoffs.
There are only a few berths left to decide, so Week 17 will be mostly about positioning. The upcoming playoff picture is an interesting one no matter how you look at it, with the Detroit Lions in their first postseason since 1999 and the Houston Texans in their first since—ever.
Between the 12 teams in the playoffs, there are a few possible matchups that should be on everyone's holiday wish list, along with a throng of games that would cause the salivation of NFL fans everywhere.
Here they are.
8. New York Jets vs. New England Patriots Rematch
To say the New England Patriots savagely avenged their 2010-11 Divisional Round loss to the New York Jets would be an understatement.
To say the Jets' chances of even making the playoffs this year are slim would also be an understatement.
Still, no amount of shoddy play by Gang Green can erase their competitive fire in the playoffs—nor the memories of their epic win last winter against the Patriots.
The Jets have some pride to earn back if they make the tournament. To beat New England will be one of the only ways that they can do so.
This would make for a very chippy and interesting game.
7. Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
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It should be easy to see why the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Houston Texans in the playoffs would be magical.
While the NFL has become a pass-happy league, these two teams remain staunchly committed to a grinding defense and conservative offense (at least the Texans are conservative).
This game would see the NFL's No. 2 defense in Houston paired with running back Arian Foster and No. 3 of the Ravens along with Ray Rice going head-to-head.
This game in Baltimore's January weather would create a classic winter slugfest in which maybe 15 points would be scored. Old-school football would be making a comeback.
The question is, would Joe Flacco's playoff experience be enough to outduel T.J. Yates with limited touches for both?
Hopefully we get to find out.
6. New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers Rematch
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Aside from their actual loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers have never come as close to losing during this season as they did against the New York Giants.
They scraped by with a 37-34 win over New York last time. The last time the Giants lost like that against a superior opponent and still made the playoffs is when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl rematch.
The New York Giants do not possess the team they had back then. If they bring any of the intensity they had for the Jets game, this one could get really interesting.
5. New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers Rematch
Remember all the way back to Week 1 of the season? There were a lot of kickoff and punt return touchdowns that week.
More importantly, the season opener between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers came right down to the wire. The Packers had to become flying squirrels to pull out a victory (see above).
Since then, these have been two of the NFL's hottest teams. Drew Brees is about to set the record for passing yards in a single year, while Aaron Rodgers is going to be the highest-rated single-season passer of all time.
Should be a great playoff game to watch if it happens.
4. Tim Tebow in Any Playoff Game
If you followed Tim Tebow at all in college football, then you know that this is a dangerous man in postseason scenarios. He has been lethal in the fourth quarter all season, and that is without the added pressure and intensity of a playoff game.
If Tebow wins a playoff game, then he will be under center in Denver for quite a while. If you thought Tebow-mania had reached its peak, just wait until you see what happens if Tebow plays in a single postseason game.
The man will be a ton of fun to watch in postseason tournament action.
3. Ravens vs. Steelers Rematch in Baltimore
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During the Joe Flacco-John Harbaugh era, the Baltimore Ravens have done a fine job of reaching the playoffs. What they have not done a good job of is getting past the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.
Much of that is due to the fact that they have to play in Pittsburgh for those games.
This year, they have a shot to take care of business at home, where they are undefeated.
The question is, are the Pittsburgh Steelers the better playoff team? Or does home-field advantage play an even bigger role than we thought?
Hopefully we'll find out.
2. San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions Rematch
It's Harbaugh vs. Schwartz, Round 2!
The last time these two teams met, the Lions were 5-0, while the 49ers were 4-1. The 49ers snapped the Lions' early-season win streak and got into their heads badly.
It resulted in a brawl after the game when a jubilant Harbaugh was a little too rough in his handshake with Jimmy Schwartz.
Jim vs. Jim has become legendary. The two teams they are coaching this season have come right out of the gutter to contend.
Two preseason underdog teams slugging it out (both on and off the field) for the NFC championship sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?
1. The Harbaugh Bowl
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Ray Lewis. Patrick Willis.
Terrell Suggs. Justin Smith.
Ray Rice. Frank Gore.
John Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh.
This Super Bowl would be one for the ages. Two brothers coaching separate teams to the big game. And both teams happen to subscribe to old-school football.
The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers rely on their running games to ignite offense. These teams also happen to boast the No. 1 and No. 2 rushing defenses.
A Super Bowl like this between two storied franchises would surely be a fantastic football game.
If you want to pig out on some wings and watch the best possible Super Bowl for 2011-2012, then sit back and hope this game happens.
The only horrible thing is, what do you do if you're the coaches' father, 72-year-old Jack Harbaugh? How do you possibly watch this game?