Predictions for 2013 NFL Divisional Round Playoff Games And Super Bowl XVLII

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Road To The Super Bowl

Denver Broncos
Jim O' Connor - US Presswire

There are eight teams left in the race for Super Bowl XVLII and it will not be an easy route for anyone at this point in the season. If you lose, you go home. It’s always nice to be Super Bowl favorites and to receive first-round byes, but does that week off usually help teams reach the Super Bowl? Not really.

In six of the last seven years, one of the Super Bowl participants didn't get a bye to begin the postseason and five of those teams wound up winning the NFL title. So looking at the last six or seven years it would be easy to say that the chances of reaching the Super Bowl from a first-round bye as well as from the Wild Card are about 50/50.

As it is always nice to skip the first round and to get a week off before you play at home, it could help to play on Wild Card weekend and get momentum going heading into the divisional round of the playoffs. You will never be able to convince teams that they should not want the bye, but hey, it may be better. Again, five Super Bowl winners in the last seven years played in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Here is a look at which teams I think will come out on top in the divisional round of the playoffs after their first-round bye and the ones that will fall. I have also predicted my AFC and NFC championship round games and my Super Bowl winner.

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Broncos vs. Ravens

Denver Broncos
Mitch Stringer - US Presswire

The Denver Broncos are one team that should always benefit from a week off. They have coaches and a QB in Peyton Manning who are masterminds of the game. The longer they have to prepare, usually the better.

The Broncos have already defeated the Baltimore Ravens just a couple weeks ago, 34-17, but there are some differences this time. Ravens LB Ray Lewis will be playing in perhaps his last game and Jim Caldwell has now been the offensive coordinator longer than just one week.

These changes may improve the Ravens, but it won't improve their chances of a victory. Tune in Saturday because it will be the last time you see Lewis do a motivational pregame dance on the field.

Prediction: Broncos 37, Ravens 20

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Patriots vs. Texans

New England Patriots
Michael Ivins - US Presswire

It has only been about five weeks since the New England Patriots embarrassed the Houston Texans 42-14 on Monday Night Football. The Texans haven't played well at all since then and are not getting any respect.

I think the Texans will bounce back in a very strong way, but will still fall short to the high-powered Patriots offense. Plus, the Patriots defense has played pretty solid the last half of the season and has shored up two cornerback spots with the emergence of rookie Alfonzo Dennard and the trade for Aqib Talib.

I see the Texans falling short on a fourth-quarter rally by Tom Brady.

Prediction: Patriots 34, Texans 27

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Falcons vs. Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks
Steven Bisig - US Presswire

This game is going to be a good one, but I think that the Seattle Seahawks defense is solid enough from top to bottom to pull it out again. RGIII showed that he could have beaten the Seahawks with his legs until he couldn't use them anymore and then the game changed and the Washington Redskins couldn't score.

I can promise you Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan will not beat any team with his legs, but what he can do is use WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones put up points in a hurry. He also has a TE by the name of Tony Gonzalez who may be the best ever. That's a pretty good receiving corps and it should give the Seahawks a few problems.

Ryan usually finds a way to lose a big game while the Seahawks defense and rookie QB Russell Wilson usually find a way to win. The Seahawks defense will score at least one touchdown, which will prove to be just enough to knock off the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Prediction: Seahawks 30, Falcons 27

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49ers vs. Packers

Green Bay Packers
Benny Sieu - US Presswire

I'm going to have to go with the Green Bay Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers in this one. I mean come on, you've got San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick versus Rodgers. There's no way I could bet against Rodgers in this situation.

Kaepernick is solid and the 49ers defense should allow him to just control to ball and not have to do too much, but this is the playoffs now and QBs have to do a lot when the opposing offense is clicking.

I just don't think the 49ers defense is good enough to keep the Packers from scoring in the high 20s and I don't think Kaepernick can lead the 49ers to enough points to beat the Packers.

On a side note, QB Alex Smith should have never lost his starting spot due to injury in the middle of the season. Yes, I like Kaepernick better, but Smith gives them a better shot to win during these playoffs because of his experience and Kaepernick's lack thereof. The move should have been made to start the season next year.

Prediction: Packers 31, 49ers 23

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Broncos vs Patriots AFC Championship

Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy - US Presswire

In my mind, this is the Super Bowl. The winner of this game will go on to win it all. I think that the Patriots offense may have the edge in this one, but the Broncos defense will rise to the challenge. Neither team has a big enough advantage in any phase of the game to easily pick a winner.

I'm going to have to go with the Broncos to come up with a few big sacks and another great play or two on defense that will change the entire game.

We all know that both QBs just need the defense to make a few big plays and they will handle their responsibility when they get the ball in their hands.

It will definitely be a game of who has the ball last and which defense can make one of these future Hall of Fame QBs make a mistake. We very well could be watching the last time that two QBs that are arguably the best ever to play in the NFL play against each other in the postseason.

Prediction: Broncos 34, Patriots 31

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Seahawks vs. Packers NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers
Joe Nicholson - US Presswire

Ok here we go. We all remember and may never forget what happened early in the season when these two teams met. Yes, the Seahawks won and no, they shouldn't have because the replacement refs cost the Packers the game on the last play. We will never forget.

Neither will the Packers. Sorry, Seahawks, but that one play that won the game for you may cost you this game. The Packers will really want to prove that they are better than the Seahawks and they will. Wilson will not be able to keep up with Rodgers in a shootout and Green Bay will get revenge.

The Seahawks defense is tough, but they won't be tough enough to stop the Packers from scoring 30-plus points.

Prediction: Packers 34, Seahawks 24

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Broncos vs. Packers Super Bowl

Denver Broncos
Brace Hemmelgarn - US Presswire

A rematch of Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 when the Broncos and QB John Elway defeated the Packers and QB Brett Favre, 31-24.

A lot has changed since then and these teams have been through some ups and downs, but what is the same this year is that you have two of the greatest to have ever played the quarterback position going at it again.

Manning will be playing in his third Super Bowl and looking for his second victory while Rodgers will be playing in his second hoping to remain undefeated on the game's biggest stage.

This game will be a fight to the end by two evenly matched teams. The Packers probably have a few more weapons on offense, but I give the Broncos the edge on defense and they say defense win championships.

It's hard to go against a Manning who is determined to prove that the Indianapolis Colts made a mistake not keeping him around for a couple more seasons.

Prediction: Broncos 30, Packers 27

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