September 10, 2012
|NFC Playoff Teams|
|NFC West||San Francisco 49ers|
|NFC North||Green Bay Packers|
|NFC South||New Orleans Saints|
|NFC East||Philadelphia Eagles|
*NFC Wild Cards: Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys
The NFC will be loaded with competitive teams this year, with a few teams capable of making the playoffs given the right circumstances. Other than the 49ers, the others teams will face stiff competition in order to win the division crown. The Eagles will have the toughest time out East, having to battle the Cowboys and the defending champion New York Giants. On paper, Philly is the class of the NFC East, but they must shore up the 38 turnovers (2nd most in the NFL) that plagued them last year. Green Bay also won’t have an easy rode to the playoffs. The NFC North is loaded this year with talented teams like the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.
Picking the Wild Cards teams in the NFC was tough. The Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Carolina Panthers are all capable of reaching the postseason, and with all the variables that occur within a NFL season it is very possible. I think the Bears, with the addition of Brandon Marshall will give their offense some punch to compliment their stellar defense. Marshall was Jay Cutler’s teammate in Denver, where they put up some impressive numbers. In their last year as teammates, Cutler threw for over 4,000 yards and they both made the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys have made significant improvements in the secondary, one of their glaring weaknesses, over the offseason. They picked up a solid veteran CB Brandon Carr via free agency and drafted standout rookie Morris Claiborne out of LSU. The Cowboys have a loaded roster this year and barring injuries, they should make the playoffs.
I have the 49ers winning the NFC, and advancing to the Super Bowl. They already have the best defense in the conference, and with a few key additions on offense they should finally be able to put up some points consistently. San Francisco added WRs Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to boost the receiving core. They already had weapons in place with Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore and a stellar TE in Vernon Davis. QB Alex Smith had a solid season last year, and will be even more effective with all these weapons at his disposal.
|AFC Playoff Teams|
|AFC West||Denver Broncos|
|AFC North||Baltimore Ravens|
|AFC South||Houston Texans|
|AFC East||New England Patriots|
*AFC Wild Cards: Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills New York Jets
The AFC is not as strong top to bottom as the NFC this year, so the division winners will have it a little easier in the AFC. I really expected big things out of the Texans this year. Their push for the playoffs lost momentum when their star QB Matt Schaub was lost for the year due to injury. They still managed to make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs, losing in a close contest with the Baltimore Ravens. Houston’s defense will be stifling once again, and the offense will be sharp with RB Arian Foster and a healthy Matt Schaub in the fold. The Denver Broncos will reach the playoffs for the consecutive years, but this time as division winners. 4-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning replaces Tim Tebow at QB, which solidifies their offense. Manning presence alone will increase the Broncos win total by at least a few games.
I have the Kansas City Chiefs making the wild card mainly because of their coach. I have been a fan of Romeo Crennel since his days as a defensive coordinator in New England. Since he took over the Chiefs last year, the team seems to rally around him and maximize their abilities. While I’m not sold on Matt Cassell, I do trust RB Jamaal Charles, and WR Dwayne Bowe. They also have playmakers on defense with DB Eric Berry returning from injury and LB Tamba Hali once he returns from suspension. I initially picked the Buffalo Bills to make the final Wild Card playoff spot, but after watching the first half of the Bills/Jets game I quickly changed my mind. Yes, I cheated, so what? Sue me! But I digress… I was really impressed with Mark Sanchez yesterday. Other than the horrible interception, he really showed command of the offense. Tebow was a non-factor (5 carries, 11 yards) but wasn’t the distraction I thought he would be. The defense was it’s usual dominant self, forcing 4 turnovers and made life miserable for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Houston Texans will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Top to bottom they have the most complete team in the conference. J.J. Watt will make sure Texans fans won’t miss Mario Williams, and their defense will be just as effective as last year. The key for this football team will be Andre Johnson’s health. At full strength he is a top 5 receiver, and a dominant force. Johnson, coupled with heavy doses of RB Arian Foster will be too much to handle for the rest of the AFC.
Super Bowl XLVII Pick
The San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans will square of in New Orleans for the Lombardi Trophy. Ultimately I believe the 49ers will emerge victorious. Both teams matchup very well, but I believe it will be head coach Jim Harbaugh that leads them to the promised land. In his first year with the team Harbaugh proved to be a master motivator, and transformed an average team into a championship contender. He has revived QB Alex Smith’s career and now is ready to unleash him with a plethora of weapons on offense. This team is ready to take the next step after a gut wrenching loss the Giants in last year’s NFC Championship. With all the pieces they have in place, the 49ers looked primed to win it all in the Big Easy.