2012 NFL Predictions: Preseason Playoff Picks For the AFC

By Benjamin Woodward

Over the next week and a half, I’ll be taking a look at each of the NFL’s individual divisions and offering my thoughts and predictions for how they will fare in the 2012-13 campaign. Today’s edition will feature a look at the entire American Football Conference standings and the potential playoff match-ups created.

The schedule for the 2012 NFL predictions pieces is as follows:

AFC East (09/01/12)

AFC South (09/03/12)

AFC North (09/03/12)

AFC West (09/04/12)

NFC East (09/04/12)

NFC South (09/05/12)

NFC North (09/05/12)

NFC West (09/06/12)

Award Winners (09/06/12)

AFC Playoffs

NFC Playoffs

Superbowl 47/Wrap-Up

First, here is the full projected AFC Standings from each of the division preview blogs, published earlier this week.

1) New England Patriots(13-3) **

2) Houston Texans(11-5) **

3) Baltimore Ravens(11-5) **

4) Denver Broncos(11-5) **

5) Cincinnati Bengals(10-6) *

6) Kansas City Chiefs(10-6) *

7) Pittsburgh Steelers — (9-7)

8 ) Buffalo Bills — (8-8)

9) San Diego Chargers — (7-9)

10) Tennessee Titans — (7-9)

11) Jacksonville Jaguars — (7-9)

12) New York Jets — (7-9)

13) Oakland Raiders — (5-11)

14) Miami Dolphins — (4-12)

15) Cleveland Browns — (4-12)

16) Indianapolis Colts — (3-13)

** = Division Champion

*   = Wild Card Winner

Now, without further ado, my predictions for the AFC Playoffs…..

Wild Card Round

6) Kansas City Chiefs 13 at

3) Baltimore Ravens 23

— In this case, I have the Ravens losing the tiebreaker to the Houston Texans and falling into a 3-6 match-up with the wild card winning Kansas City Chiefs. While I do believe that the Chiefs have enough to put up a fight against the Ravens, I find it hard to pick against Baltimore at home. Even back in 2007 when the Ravens were struggling, they nearly ended the Patriots’ undefeated season in an epic Monday night classic. Behind a suffocating defensive performance, I’d expect Baltimore to pick up a ten-point win over the Chiefs at M & T Bank Stadium.

5) Cincinnati Bengals 27 at

4) Denver Broncos 31

— Write it down, folks. A Broncos-Bengals playoff match-up this January has the potential to surprise many and become one of the best postseason games in recent history. Both teams have explosive offenses lead by gun-slinging quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Andy Dalton and playmaking receivers on the outside with Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green. This one should be a barn-burner and taking a talented Broncos squad to the limit will be a national coming out party for the young Cincinnati Bengals. However, in the end, I’d expect Manning to march his team down the field in the final minute for a game-winning touchdown.

Divisional Round

4) Denver Broncos 23 at

1) New England Patriots 27

— Everyone remembers the Pats and Broncos meeting in the postseason back in January. It was supposed to be Tim Tebow‘s night to outshine two-time Superbowl MVP Tom Brady. Well, if you ask Skip Bayless, that is. It didn’t go the way Tebow and the Broncos had planned when the Patriots ran away with a 45-10 victory. This year’s meeting will be far different. It will be another epic confrontation between Brady and his long-time rival Peyton Manning. The Broncos defense is one of the strongest in the AFC, but lacks the type of big-game experience that it takes to succeed in a game of this magnitude. Brady and the Pats take this one in a thriller down at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

3) Baltimore Ravens 16 at

2) Houston Texans 20

— The rematch. This time on the turf of Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. After being eliminated by the Ravens in the divisional round one year ago, the Texans will be out for revenge in 2012-13. With quarterback Matt Schaub back and healthy, the Houston offense will be significantly improved when compared to the T.J. Yates-lead group that took the field in Baltimore back in January. Expect another closely contested battle between two of the NFL’s toughest teams with the Texans holding on for the win to advance to their first ever conference title game.

Conference Championship

2) Houston Texans 23 at

1) New England Patriots 21

— This is most definitely the toughest game to pick out of any on this list. On one hand, the Patriots have Tom Brady, the best quarterback in the AFC. On the other, the Texans have a slightly above-average signal caller in Matt Schaub. If you were strictly looking at this positional match-up, predicting this game would be a no-brainer. However, as we’ve all learned in the past, success in the postseason is reliant upon much more than just the quarterback. The Texans have the necessary pieces on offense in running back Arian Foster, tight end Owen Daniels and wide receiver Andre Johnson to expose an unproven New England defense and a strong enough defense of their own to limit Tom Brady’s offense to 20-24 points. Ironically enough, former Pats’ place kicker Shayne Graham will boot one through the uprights in the game’s final seconds to seal a Houston victory.

Well, there you have it folks. The Houston Texans are your AFC representative for Superbowl 47 from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Be sure to check back for the prediction piece for the NFC playoffs and for the big game itself.

Thanks For Reading!

Twitter: @_BWoodward

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