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2012 NFL Playoff Picture

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2012 NFL Playoffs

2012 NFL Playoffs
Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 NFL Season has come to an end. Well, sort of...We still have a massive game tonight as the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys. The winner will be crowned the NFC East champion, while the loser will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season (Redskins) or the third straight season (Cowboys). The winner of this game will host the Seattle Seahawks next weekend.

This slideshow article is a look at all four wild-card weekend games, and tidbits on all dozen playoff teams.

The 13-3 Denver Broncos (#1 in the AFC) and the 12-4 New England Patriots (#2 in the AFC) are off next weekend, as are the 13-3 Atlanta Falcons (#1 in the NFC) and the 11-4-1 San Francisco 49ers (#2 seed in the NFC).

Coming into the season I would have thought that the NFC East and the NFC South would each be sending multiple teams to the playoffs. We see now those divisions only have their division winners playing for Super Bowl XLVII.

The AFC is extremely interesting as well. The Cincinnati Bengals are in the playoffs for the second straight season. Bengals fans last enjoyed back-to-back playoff seasons in 1981-1982 (yikes).

The other wild-card team in the AFC is the Indianapolis Colts. The same Colts who were 2-14 in 2011 became Chuckstrong and followed their rookie quarterback alllll the way to the playoffs (wow, impressive turn-around season).

Surprisingly the top dogs all season in the AFC, the Houston Texans, will be in action in wild-card weekend thanks to their current struggles.

Wild-card weekend will see a week 17 rematch as the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Green Bay Packers.

The super-hot Seattle Seahawks are in action for wild-card weekend. They will play the NFC East winner.

@craigballard77

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AFC Top Seeds

AFC Top Seeds
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

The 2-3 Broncos became the 13-3 Broncos thanks to a phenomenal run led by a 36 year young quarterback coming back from multiple surgeries. They have earned the top seed in the AFC so any playoff game they play prior to Super Bowl XLVII will be at Sports Authority Field at Mile High where the Broncos went 7-1.

Peyton Manning had an incredible 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions at Mile High in 2012.

The Broncos will host the AFC winner of wild-card weekend with the worst record.

The Patriots are off wild-card weekend too. They will host the AFC wild-card weekend winner with the best record. At Gillette Stadium they went 6-2 in 2012. The last three seasons the Pats had a total of one home loss so two this season was a lot for them, but we know they are very potent and dangerous at home.

Tom Brady is 74-14 at home. What? Wow...video game numbers.

The Pats are the defending AFC champs. They went 3-1 vs AFC playoff teams this season, and 3-0 at home.

The past five AFC champions have been either a #1 seed or a #2 seed.

@craigballard77

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Colts at Ravens

Colts at Ravens
Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE

The Indianapolis Colts will travel to the AFC North champions, the Baltimore Ravens.

This game will be played at M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens went 6-2 in the regular season. In five of their six home wins the Ravens scored 31+ points, including games of 44 and 55.

The Colts were 4-4 on the road, and went 0-3 on the road vs winning teams. Andrew Luck had a wonderful rookie campaign, but he was very pedestrian (at times downright bad) on the road. Away from Indy Luck had 11 touchdowns and a whopping 13 interceptions. His road quarterback rating is just 70.1.

The Ravens offense has been on-and-off in 2012, but at home they were good. Joe Flacco had 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions at home. This season Flacco had a regular season quarterback rating of 99.0 for games played in Baltimore.

Ray Rice also excelled at home where he romped for eight of his 10 touchdowns (seven rushing and one receiving). The math for the Ravens seems easy enough as Rice averages 23 touches (rushes + receptions) in Baltimore victories, and he averages just 14 touches in games that they lose.

Ray Lewis is likely back. The Ravens rush defense has been unrecognizable in 2012, but they are a bit better vs the pass. The Colts running game is not a threat to expose the Ravens rush defense, so they will have to rely heavily on Luck in this game.

@craigballard77

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Bengals at Texans

Bengals at Texans
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Hard to believe that the Texans will be in action on wild-card weekend. They were the numero uno in the AFC for the entire season, until their week 17 loss to the Colts completed their 1-3 free-fall to end their season. That four game slump hurt as the Broncos and Patriots went a combined 7-1 in that span, and both caught/passed the Texans to be the top 2 seeds.

The Texans are scuffling on offense. In his last 11 quarters Matt Schaub has as many touchdown passes as you or I have, which is to say - zero. Prior to that he had been great at home. On the season he has 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions at Reliant Stadium (101.7 QB rating at home).

Andy Dalton has been pedestrian on the road. He has 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the road.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis sat out week 17, but he still has a career-high with 1,094 rushing yards in 2012. He is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry on the road, but he does have four of his six touchdowns away from home.

The Bengals defense is under the radar. There are a small handful of teams who have top 10 overall rankings vs both the pass and the run. Mike Zimmer has his defense at #10 vs the pass and #8 vs the run. Impressive.

Both defenses have been wonderful with sacking the opposing quarterback. Both are in the top-5 for sacks. The Texans have 24 sacks at home, and the Bengals have a whopping 29 sacks on the road (that is as many or more than eight other NFL teams have in total...wow).

@craigballard77

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NFC Top Seeds

NFC Top Seeds
Daniel Shirley-US PRESSWIRE

The Falcons will play all of their NFC playoff games at the Georgia Dome where they went 7-1 this season.

Atlanta had the same set up in 2010 as the #1 seed, but they were trounced by the visiting Packers in their first game. Last season they were bounced from the playoffs right away. This season Atlanta will be off for wild-card weekend and then host the NFC wild-card weekend winner with the worst record.

Matt Ryan is an incredible 33-4 at home in his career. This season he was much better on the road than at home.

Michael Turner saw his production dip for the third straight season, but he did average 4.4 yards per carry in the Dome.

The 49ers repeated as NFC West champs under Jim Harbaugh. The Niners are an impressive 24-7-1 under Harbaugh, and they were thiiis close to representing the NFC in last years Super Bowl.

The Niners went 6-1-1 at home this season. Frank Gore earned his sixth season of 1,000+ rushing yards and he is averaging a whopping 5.7 yards per carry at Candlestick Park.

San Francisco's defense has been much better on the road than at home, but of course they would still prefer to play in front of their home crowd.

@craigballard77

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Seahawks vs NFC East Champ

Seahawks vs NFC East Champ
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Despite scuffling in their finale to the St. Louis Rams we know the Seahawks are hot these days. In their three games prior to that week 17 narrow victory they were averaging a 50-10 victory. Wow.

The Seahawks have been great at home, but as the #5 seed in the NFC their playoff run will be on the road. Their only chance to host a playoff game is if the NFC title game is Minnesota at Seattle.

Russell Wilson has been significantly better at home than on the road for the entire season, but lately he is hot anywhere the Seahawks play. He has just nine touchdowns and eight interceptions on the road, but in his last eight games overall he has 20 touchdowns (16 passing and four rushing) and just two interceptions (wow).

Marshawn Lynch averages a whopping 5.3 yards per carry on the road.

The Seahawks are #5 vs the pass and #11 vs the run, but their defense is much better at home where the 12th man is a legit asset and contributor to their success. This defense will play a hot offense whether it be the Redskins or Cowboys.

The Cowboys went 4-4 at home, but they have a hot connection of Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant going on. The Redskins are 4-3 at home and would have to win tonight to make the playoffs so would be 5-3 at FedExField.

The Seahawks are going to rely on big production from Lynch to win in the playoffs, and Wilson can beat you with his legs too so they likely would prefer to face a Cowboys defense that is ranked #17 vs the rush as opposed to the Redskins who are a top-5 rush defense.

@craigballard77

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Vikings at Packers

Vikings at Packers
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

This game is a week 17 rematch. The Packers needed to win to avoid playing in wild-card weekend, and the Vikes needed to win just to join the party. A 37-34 Vikings victory sets the stage for wild-card weekend.

The Packers will host at least one game at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers has a 34-9 record at home, and this season he tossed 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions at home.

The Packers got Rodgers sacked a ton in 2012, but only 17 times at home.

The Vikings won their final four games to make the playoffs. They have a very underwhelming roster, but they surely get full marks for being a surprise playoff qualifier.

Minny did not make the playoffs on the strength of their road play. The Vikes were 7-1 at home, but just 3-5 on the road.

Adrian Peterson had over 1,000 rushing yards on the road alone (wow wow wow). All Day averages a whopping 6.5 yards per carry on the road, but to be honest there is not enough after him on this team to really worry the Packers this weekend (in my opinion anyway).

Thank you for reading my work. Rant Sports has your NFL playoffs covered

@craigballard77

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