When making 2013 NFL playoff predictions, don’t underestimate wild-card teams.
The 2010 Green Bay Packers, 2007 Giants and 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers were all wild-card teams.
Everyone starts with a clean slate in the postseason. And the underdogs with a chip on their shoulder have gotten hot too many times to write them off again.
Here are the teams who have either secured a wild-card spot or will attempt to in Week 17 and their Super Bowl odds.
Fifth Seed: Indianapolis Colts
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers
Indy is arguably the least talented team in the entire playoffs, even out of the teams that haven’t clinched yet. It actually surrenders an average of 2.8 more points per game than it scores. The Colts only have a winning record because of a handful of Andrew Luck magic acts.
But those magic acts won’t win them four straight games against the league’s best.
Super Bowl Odds: Try Again Next Year
Sixth Seed: Cincinnati Bengals
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: Washington Redskins, New York Giants
Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a single team that’s clinched a playoff spot going into the season finale. The Bengals are 6-1 in their last seven, though.
Combine the Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection with a top 10 defense and, unlike Indianapolis, they actually have the talent to go the distance.
Super Bowl Odds: Miracles Happen
Fifth Seed: Seattle Seahawks
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers*, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers
Seattle is one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and the Seahawks have outscored their last three opponents 150-30.
After the Seahawks’ latest streak, fans in Seattle have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Super Bowl Odds: Realistic As Snow in Buffalo
Fifth Seed: San Francisco 49ers
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots
All the 49ers have to do to clinch the NFC West is defeat the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, which should be a cakewalk. But if they do choke, it still isn’t difficult to imagine Jim Harbaugh lighting a fire under his team and them going all the way.
San Francisco is inconsistent, but it has more than enough talent to win four straight games.
Super Bowl Odds: Shock of Zona Loss > Shock of Super Bowl Victory
Sixth Seed: Minnesota Vikings
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans
If the Vikings defense played like it did against the Houston Texans, with Adrian Peterson on the other side of the football, they can beat anyone. It’s still difficult to imagine a team led by Christian Ponder with the 20th-ranked pass defense going the distance.
Minnesota still has to defeat the Packers, which will be difficult enough.
Super Bowl Odds: Miracles Happen, but They Won’t
Sixth Seed: Chicago Bears
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings
Chicago has the No. 2-ranked defense and the offensive talent in Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte to win the world title. However, Cutler and Forte haven’t played up to their potential this season. Until they do, the Bears won’t make it out of the first round.
Super Bowl Odds: If Lightning Strikes Jay Cutler and Cures Interception Syndrome
Sixth Seed: Washington Redskins
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens
Washington has won six straight games. When he’s on, Robert Griffin III is unstoppable. Because of that, the Redskins offense can keep pace with any team in the league.
Washington would make the playoffs as a wild card if it suffers a letdown to the Cowboys but the Vikings and Bears lose as well—which is less likely than them winning the Super Bowl as the NFC East champ.
Super Bowl Odds: Realistic As Rain In Phoenix (It Happens!)
Sixth Seed: New York Giants
Wins Over Playoff Contenders: San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers
New York needs the Vikings, Bears and Cowboys to lose just to get in the playoffs. And it must beat the Eagles on Sunday.
The Giants should just start looking forward to the draft.
Super Bowl Odds: When Rob Ryan Flies
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.