NFL Playoff Picks for the 2013-14 Season
NFL Playoff Predictions
With last season's Super Bowl champs kicking off the season against this year's Lombardi Trophy favorites, football is officially back. The regular season is 17 weeks long, but it's never too soon to start thinking about which teams might make it to postseason play.
The Baltimore Ravens, who topped the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans last February have been hit with a number of notable defections. The question that must be asked, is if the Ravens are even a playoff lock in the upcoming season. In the NFC and AFC, there promises to be plenty of teams ready to knock off the Ravens, and to make their way to the playoffs and ultimately to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The way recent history has gone for the New York Jets and head coach Rex Ryan, the team will be nowhere near MetLife Field on February 2 for Super Bowl XLVIII. In fact, Ryan is already on the hot seat, and the team hasn't even played a regular season game. It seems it's only a matter of time before veteran Mark Sanchez gets clipped from the roster altogether. Perhaps MetLife co-tenants the New York Giants, though, could be angling for a return to the playoffs.
Which young players will emerge in the coming weeks? Will rookie running backs like Monte Ball in Denver or Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers become the Doug Martin of this season? Might Ryan Tannehill take the next step and help lead the Miami Dolphins to the postseason? Will any of the young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson tumble into a sophomore slump?
There are so many storylines to follow as the NFL kicks off, but pardon me while I jump ahead and preview how the regular season all shakes out. Here's a look at the 12 teams that will make the playoffs this season.
AFC East: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots had a brutal offseason, but with the sideshows now cast off, it's time for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to get back to doing what they do best: winning football games.
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens were league champions last year, but this season the Cincinnati Bengals figure to top the AFC North. The Ravens locked up Joe Flacco, but lost quite a bit of leadership on the defensive side of the ball, which gives the edge to the Bengals.
AFC South: Houston Texans
The Houston Texans should have no problem winning what should be one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. 2013 top pick DeAndre Hopkins has been highly touted, but the receiver is questionable for Week 1 with a concussion, a less than auspicious start to his pro career.
AFC West: Denver Broncos
The Broncos should run away with yet another less-than-strong division. Wes Welker has been added, but Von Miller has been subtracted, at least for the first six games.
AFC Wild Card 1: Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck's best attribute is that he's a ridiculously smart football player. He impressed in his rookie campaign, and this year he just might break out for the Indianapolis Colts.
AFC Wild Card 2: Miami Dolphins
With Mike Wallace added, and Brian Hartline in place, Miami is surrounding quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the pieces to help the Dolphins make the jump to postseason play. It's possible the Dolphins could even overhaul New England for the division.
NFC East: New York Giants
This division could easily be one of the best or worst in the league. With the Dallas Cowboys seemingly always finding a way to implode, and serious questions about RBII's knee, the Giants seem to be the most steady pick. Don't rule out the dark horse Philadelphia Eagles, though, where the combination of Chip Kelly and Michael Vick could be explosive or very short lived.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
The NFC North is one of the better divisions in football. However, with Aaron Rodgers, an upgraded running game and a rock-solid defense, the Green Bay Packers are still the favorites.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton is back, and the coach sure has had a lot of time to draw up plays for Drew Brees. It might just be a tough season for the Atlanta Falcons in what will be a fiercely competitive NFC South.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh has already proven himself to be a lyrical genius. This season, he'll have the chance to prove himself as a football genius as he'll once again lead his team in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.
NFC Wild Card 1: Seattle Seahawks
With a defense that is, perhaps, only second best to that of their divisional rivals, the Seattle Seahawks will be among the best teams in the entire conference. Wild card or not.
NFC Wild Card 2: Carolina Panthers
This is a big stretch, but there are serious question marks about the Atlanta defense. After a rough second season, Cam Newton could be in line for a huge year, and the Carolina Panthers could be the big beneficiary.