NFL Playoff Predictions: Saints, Packers, Patriots or Steelers in Super Bowl
The 2011 NFL season was full of surprises, shockers and a few things we all expected. The Packers continued their hot streak and nearly went the entire season without a loss, and the Steelers and Ravens once again were their dominant selves.
On the flip side, the Detroit Lions finally became relevant again, the 49ers dominated on defense and Tim Tebow answered God's calling and put the Broncos in place to make the playoffs despite completing less than half of his passes.
As the season comes to a close and the playoff picture becomes clearer, I take a stab at predicting how the playoffs will turn out. Of course, we still don't know who the final teams in the tournament will be or who will play where, but that doesn't matter too much as the cream will rise to the top regardless.
Here we go.
AFC Wild Card
AFC Wild Card Games
After many years of knocking on the door, the Houston Texans finally made it into the playoffs with a division win and even get to host a game in the Wild Card Round. If the Bengals can beat the Ravens and sneak in, they will give the Texans a run for their money. If they lose, expect the Texans to win easily.
Either way, I'll give this game to the home team.
Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos or Oakland Raiders
Pittsburgh and Baltimore (along with the Patriots) have been the class of the AFC for most of the year, and whichever team fails to claim the division will have to go out west and play the pesky Broncos or the mediocre Raiders.
Tim Tebow has definitely been a huge story this season, and the Carson Palmer trade mortgaged the Raiders future, but neither QB has much of a chance against these bad boys.
Pittsburgh or Baltimore advance
NFC Wild Card
NFC Wild Card Games
Detroit has played like a respectable team all year long, and with the young and healthy Matt Stafford behind center, the Lions have a great chance at advancing. If they finish as the wild-card team with the better record, then they have the luxury of playing a team from the East. Whether it's the Cowboys or Giants, I still like the Lions to get an extra game in the tourney.
If they have to go to New Orleans, forget about it.
If you saw Monday Night Football where the Saints ran rampant against the overmatched Falcons, you'd be hard pressed to pick Atlanta in this one. The Saints are hot, and that offense looks unstoppable. Unfortunately for them they have one loss too many, and are forced to play in the first round.
If this is a rematch of Week 16, the Saints once again dominate. However, if the Falcons can get a win and Detroit loses in Week 17, then the Falcons have a shot.
AFC Divisional Championship
AFC Divisional Championships
Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens
Houston had a great run this season. Their defense was superb, and the running game was on point. But without their quarterback or Mario Williams, I just don't see them competing up north in the cold, pressure-filled stadium regardless if they face James Harrison or Ray Lewis.
The Steelers and Ravens have both been there before and they will be there again.
Steelers or Ravens win
Steelers or Ravens at New England Patriots
The Patriots have the worst defense in the NFL, but when you have one of the best quarterbacks in the history scoring at an unstoppable rate, it makes it tough for other teams to keep up. Joe Flacco has played at an average pace this year, and I think the Pats would like revenge after losing to the Steelers early in the year.
Either way, I give this to the home team.
NFC Divisional Championship
NFC Divisional Championships
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Although the Lions are playing hot (and coming off a win at Green Bay in the last game of the season), I still think the Packers are the better team namely because Aaron Rodgers is throwing the ball as good as anyone ever has.
Whether this is the Falcons, Giants, Cowboys or Lions, I give the win to the defending champs.
New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have had one heck of a year, and their defense deserves most of the credit, along with their rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh. Despite being considered a low-middle-of-the-road contender when the season started, San Francisco was able to earn a bye week ahead of the potent Saints. However, the Saints are playing lights out, and I find it hard to believe that anything except weather stops Drew Brees and company, and unfortunately for SF, the weather ain't that bad.
If they get down at any point, I just don't see Alex Smith and Co. being able to come back. Brees is on fire.
AFC Conference Championship
AFC Conference Championship
Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
This is the second week in a row that a tough, hard-nosed team from the North comes into Foxboro and it's the second week in a row they go home losers.
Patriots advance to the Super Bowl
NFC Conference Championship
NFC Conference Championship
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
The MVP of the season goes to Aaron Rodgers, but nobody doubts that Drew Brees played well enough to deserve it as well. This is the prime-time showdown that we have all been waiting for.
Many have the Packers cruising into their second consecutive Super Bowl. Not me. With all the weapons on the Saints, and with the injuries on the Packers, I just don't see Green Bay getting by New Orleans.
The Saints have the passing game, a plethora of runners and although their defense isn't great, it is as good or better than the Packers. The run stops here.
Saints advance to the Super Bowl
Super Bowl in Indianapolis
New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots
This is a matchup of two high-powered offenses on teams with weak defenses, and as a bonus, the game is played indoors. Don't be surprised if this is the highest-scoring Super Bowl ever. Drew Brees will absolutely pick apart the weak New England secondary, and that is going to be the difference.
Expect Tom Brady to go off as well, but I see the Saints coming up with a stop of two, while the Patriots won't be able to stop the little QB that could.
Brees might not have won the regular season MVP award, but he will get the one that matters most.
Saints win their second Super Bowl