Predicting Every Game of the 2014 NFL Playoffs
Predictions From Wild Card to SBXLVIII
After 17 crazy weeks of gridiron action, the 2014 NFL Playoffs are finally upon us. All 256 regular-season games have come to an end, and now it’s time for the men to separate themselves from the boys. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for – the NFL postseason.
So what can we expect from the 2014 NFL Playoffs? Well, for one, there is bound to be a couple of upsets before all is said and done. It happens every year, and the recent trend has been for lower-seeded teams to get hot and go the distance. While it’s far from a guarantee that will happen again this postseason, it’s safe to assume that some of those wild cards will be looking to make waves in the next month or so.
Regardless of what happens, it’s sure to be an exciting year of playoff football. Considering all of the ridiculous plays, record-setting performances and last-minute heroics the 2013 campaign has had to offer, there’s no reason to expect anything less than amazingness.
So turn on your TV, sit back and hold on tight. It’s going to be a bumpy ride that’s sure to leave NFL fans everywhere wanting more. That’s what makes it such a great sport, though.
Without further ado, here’s my prediction for each game of the 2014 NFL Playoffs. I’ll start with the Wild Card round, work my way through the Divisional round, give the Conference round a go, and finish off with my take on who will walk away from Super Bowl XLVIII victorious.
AFC Wild Card: No. 3 Bengals vs No. 6 Chargers
After sneaking into the playoffs following an overtime win over the Chiefs, the Chargers are just glad to not be on vacation yet. Still, they’re hot right now and appear to be firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the Bengals have been rather inconsistent this season. Their defense won’t be able to slow down Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense, and Andy Dalton will make too many mistakes to keep up.
AFC Wild Card: No. 4 Colts vs No. 5 Chiefs
Right now, these are two completely different teams. While the Colts have bounced back from a mid-season slump, the Chiefs have lost five of their last seven games. After embarrassing Kansas City two weeks ago, Andrew Luck and the Colts will have the Chiefs experiencing a bit of déjà vu.
NFC Wild Card: No. 3 Eagles vs No. 6 Saints
As exciting as the Eagles’ offense has been this season, they don’t have the defense to keep Drew Brees and Co. contained. Even if Nick Foles plays well and LeSean McCoy gets going early, Philadelphia won’t be able to keep up with the explosive offense of New Orleans.
NFC Wild Card: No. 4 Packers vs No. 5 49ers
Even with Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup, the Packers are far from a competitive team. They finished the season 8-7-1, and are having problems all over the field. While they might have the talent to slow down the 49ers’ passing game, Frank Gore should have no problem pummeling their defense into submission.
AFC Divisional: No. 1 Broncos vs No. 6 Chargers
Considering how their season went, it’s a huge win for the Chargers to even make it to the Divisional round. Unfortunately for them, that’s where it ends. San Diego simply doesn’t have the pass defense to slow down Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and the rest of the Broncos’ dynamic passing game.
AFC Divisional: No. 2 Patriots vs No. 4 Colts
The Patriots may have locked down the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, but they’re far from invincible. Tom Brady and Co. have had their fair share of struggles all season long, and will watch what should have been a dominant season fall well short against a red-hot Colts team led by Luck.
NFC Divisional: No. 1 Seahawks vs No. 6 Saints
If the Saints are hoping to play spoiler to the Seahawks’ sensational 2013 campaign, they better think again. Brees will keep it close on the scoreboard, but the Seahawks’ elite pass defense and the tremendous leadership of Russell Wilson should get Seattle through their first test of the postseason.
NFC Divisional: No. 2 Panthers vs No. 5 49ers
One of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, the Panthers will only fall to a dominant performance. Unfortunately, the 49ers simply don’t have it in them. The offense is strong, but inconsistent. The defense is great, but not elite. Luke Kuechly and the Carolina defense will make enough plays to walk away from this one victorious.
AFC Championship: No. 1 Broncos vs No. 4 Colts
When this season first got under way, it looked like the Broncos could make a serious run at going undefeated. Instead, the Colts knocked them off in Week 7 as Luck and Manning met for the first time. In their second go-around, the young gunslinger will again get the better of the future Hall of Famer. It will be Vontae Davis and the Colts pass defense that makes the biggest impact, though.
NFC Championship: No. 1 Seahawks vs No. 2 Panthers
As good as the Panthers have been, they don’t have the offensive firepower to overcome an elite Seattle defense. Cam Newton and Co. will struggle to put points on the board. The Seahawks will neutralize Carolina’s vicious pass rush by pounding them into submission with the help of Marshawn Lynch.
Super Bowl XLVIII: No. 1 Seahawks vs No. 4 Colts
In a showdown between two of the most exciting teams in the NFL, the Seahawks and Colts will battle it out for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Indianapolis will give Seattle everything it has, allowing Luck to connect with T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener early and often. The Colts defense will also put up quite the fight, getting a big pass rush from Robert Mathis as they attempt to get under the skin of Wilson. In the end, though, the Seahawks’ elite defense will be too much for the Colts to handle. The defensive line will give Luck happy feet and force him to make an errant throw or two. One of those will fall into the hands of Richard Sherman, who will run it back for the game-winning touchdown.
Hats off to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, who will be crowned as the new NFL champions.