January 3, 2013 by ussportsfanuk
The NFL Playoffs are here and there are some very interesting games in the Wildcards, with the prospect of some great games to come in later rounds.
In the opening weekend, all the games have an intriguing side story. The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings meet up again one week after the Vikings beat their Division rivals to get into the Playoffs. Two of the form teams in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins go head to head with a battle between two of the star rookie QB’s, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. The Indianapolis Colts, with the other star rookie QB Andrew Luck, go back to their original home to face the Baltimore Ravens and the improving Cincinnati Bengals visit the Houston Texans who slipped from the No. 1 seed No. 3 following a poor finish to the season.
Looking at the Playoffs as a whole, the AFC seems fairly clear in the path to the Championship Game. Despite their poor finish, the Texans should be too strong at home for the Bengals but I think that the Colts may go in to Baltimore and win. This would leave the Texans visiting the New England Patriots and the Colts going to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos definitely appear to be the team to beat in the NFL at the moment. There only defeats were to three of the strongest teams in the league this year and all came early in the season. Even with a potential side issue of Peyton Manning playing his former team, the Broncos would surely be too good for the Colts. As for the Texans at Patriots, it is very difficult to bet against the Patriots at home, especially in January, and the Patriots have already handled the Texans easily once. So this would leave the Patriots at the Broncos. Brady vs Manning in the AFC Championship Game!
The NFC does not appear to be so clear-cut. The teams in this Conference have been more inconsistent and even the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons haven’t convinced many people. Similar to the Patriots, it is difficult to back against the Packers at home in January. The Vikings obviously showed they can beat the Packers in a big game last week but I think it will be a different story at Lambeau Field. As for the Seahawks at Redskins, this is difficult to call. It could ultimately come down to which rookie QB can handle the pressure. I think the Seahawks have been as good as anybody the last few weeks though and they could win a close one. The next round would then have the Packers going to the San Francisco 49ers and the Seahawks visiting the Falcons. Although the Falcons had the best record they didn’t always look convincing and have been in this position before and failed in the Playoffs. I actually think this could happen again and that Seattle may cause an upset, although it would be very tough to call. The Packers and 49ers could be a great game and, although it wouldn’t surprise me for it to go either way, the 49ers could just have enough to win. So I think the NFC Championship game could be an all NFC West tie between the Seahawks and 49ers.
So to the Championship games. In the AFC it would be another great game between Brady and Manning but I think that home field advantage will be enough for Manning and the Broncos to win. In the NFC, despite the Seahawks blowout of San Francisco a few weeks ago, I don’t think they can win three road games and the 49ers will have learnt from their defeat and win this time.
My Super Bowl prediction then is a repeat of Super Bowl XXIV, the Denver Broncos vs the San Francisco 49ers. The game may be a repeat but I don’t the result would be as this time I think it will be the Denver Broncos lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Finally I would like to mention Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens who has announced his retirement. Legend is a word used to freely these days but there is no doubt the Lewis will go down as a true NFL Legend. He is one of, if not the best, LB to ever play the game. His drive and leadership were always evident and he was the leader and inspiration of some of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. Offenses may be able to breathe a little more easily than they could before now! The NFL is undoubtedly a poorer place following Ray Lewis’ retirement.