The regular season is over and it’s time for the NFL’s second season: the playoffs.
In the AFC, I’m going with the top seeds except for the Texans, who are currently in free fall. Otherwise, I think the home teams will win, and the Broncos will extend their winning streak all the way to New Orleans:
Bengals (6) at Texans (3): Bengals
Colts (5) at Ravens (4): Ravens
Ravens (4) at Patriots (3): Patriots
Bengals (6) at Broncos (1): Broncos
Patriots (2) at Broncos (1): Broncos
The NFC is trickier as the two hottest teams—Washington and Seattle—play each other this Sunday. One of them has to lose. In contrast with my midseason prediction, I’m expecting Atlanta to go one and out. Either the Redskins or the Seahawks should play them close on the turf in a dome, and Atlanta still needs to prove that they can win the big game. But once we get to the Conference Championship, unless the Vikings can pull an upset at Lambeau, the winner of the Packers-Niners game will host and probably win the NFC title. Here’s how I see it going (and I’m a lot less confident on this side):
Vikings (6) at Packers (3): Packers
Seahawks (5) at Redskins (4): Redskins
Packers (3) at 49ers (2): 49ers
Redskins (4) at Falcons (1): Redskins
Redskins (4) at 49ers (2): 49ers
Which brings us to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, LA, and a rematch of Super Bowl XXIV guaranteed to be a closer and far better game.
And the winner is:
The Denver Broncos, with Peyton Manning winning his second Super Bowl MVP and second ring.
A confession: I am having a hard time not picking the Redskins to go all the way. They’re on a seven-game winning streak—longest in the NFC—and could just keep rolling until they run out of game to win. That said, the Redskins have exceeded my “optimistic” expectations all year. I picked them to go 8-8 at the beginning of the season when many “experts” thought they’d only win two or three games. Now the same experts think Seattle will win handily on Sunday. I hope they’re just as wrong this time as they were before.
So I could give in and go with the team I want to win over the safer and saner choice, but why jinx it now? I’ll stick with my cautious optimism and hope they exceed it again. Hail!