Crystal Ballin' It: NFL Playoff Predictions 2013
“The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!”
The 2013 NFL season kicks off tonight from sunny Denver, Colorado in a rematch of last year’s playoff game where eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, marched into Sports Authority Field at Mile High and knocked Peyton Manning off his high horse.
No pun intended!
(Side note: The corporate sponsorships are getting out of control. What happened to Mile High Stadium? That was such a classic name!)
It is quite possible this is a preview of the AFC title game, as early season experts have the Denver Broncos reaching Super Bowl XLVIII, where those same experts are critical of playing an outdoor game in New Jersey in February. Let them whine! I’m sure the players are still going to suit up and play. Snow/rain/sleet/hail/locust swarms will not stop NFL players from getting their shot at a ring in the biggest game of the season!
As with every new NFL season, some favorites will fall, some bottom feeders will rise, and Vegas sports books will pay dearly!
Here are my 2013 NFL playoff predictions:
AFC division champs:
- West: Denver Broncos (Will Broncos fans get over the Joe Flacco posters by tonight?)
- East: New England Patriots will win this division by default!
- North: Baltimore Ravens (probably the second-toughest division in football. Cleveland is not close, Pittsburgh is starting Isaac Redman at RB, and Cincinnati, well, they’re still the Bengals!)
- South: Indianapolis Colts (This will be a great battle with the Texans, as the Colts should not fear the Jaguars or Titans.)
- Wild Cards: Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans
The AFC team that could make a surprise playoff appearance is the Kansas City Chiefs. New head coach Andy Reid will have an impact on every aspect of the Chiefs organization, especially new QB Alex Smith. With a terrific RB in Jamaal Charles and an underrated defense -- thanks to so many high draft picks the past several years -- KC will make vast improvements this season. That means instead of having a top draft pick, look for them to pick somewhere in the high teens.
Kansas City has a favorable schedule and gets to feast upon the Oakland Raiders twice! Other than playing Denver twice and the NFC East, there aren’t many other games where they should struggle. I’m not convinced San Diego is as good as some experts claim, so look for the Chiefs to pick up a victory or two against their AFC West rivals.
NFC division champs:
- West: San Francisco 49ers (They play a very similar schedule as the Seahawks, and they get to beat up on each other in Week 2. The NFL doesn’t wait to showcase excellent match-ups, does it? The Niners open Sunday night football at home against Green Bay!)
- East: Dallas Cowboys (I know everybody is picking the Redskins, but Robert Griffin III’s knee’s are as shaky as a 90-year-old grandma walking back from Subway!)
- North: Green Bay Packers (The Vikings and Bears still have subpar quarterbacks, but watch out for the Lions, as explained below!)
- South: New Orleans Saints (Rated as having the easiest schedule in football. Here are their final four games: Carolina, St. Louis, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. They also get to play the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, and Cardinals. Yeah, they’re playoff bound!)
- Wild Cards: Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks
Surprise NFC playoff team: tie between the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers.
I really wanted to put the St. Louis Rams in this group, but their schedule is brutal; they have to play the Seahawks and 49ers twice, as well as the AFC South. The Rams also get to play the Falcons, Saints, Bears, and Cowboys. So much for having an schedule tailor-made for missing the playoffs!
Detroit has 'way too much talent not to at least push the Packers for the NFC North division crown, but Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers. Calvin Johnson broke the single-season receiving yards record (1964) formerly held by Jerry Rice and has set a goal of 2000 yards receiving for 2013. And Megatron’s season will be more highly anticipated than the new Transformers movie set for release next summer!
Carolina’s season hinges on enigmatic QB Cam Newton. They, too, have a boat load of talent. Unfortunately, they play in the toughest division in football, the NFC South. There is just no way that Carolina passes New Orleans or Atlanta and takes one of the playoff spots. Look for things to improve drastically in Charlotte and, like the Chiefs, will be picking in the high teens in the 2014 NFL draft.
In the AFC, look for another Brady-vs-Manning AFC title game. This time, the Broncos will get the No 1 seed, so no games at Foxboro in January. Although, there could be two feet of snow in Denver that time of year!
The NFC title game could go so many different ways, as this is clearly the superior conference. It’s possible we could see a 10-win team not make the playoffs. Remember, it's happened before. New England went 11-5 in 2008 and missed the post-season! With the Saints having home field advantage because of their easy schedule and the return of Sean Payton, I see New Orleans having the No 1 overall seed. However, the 49ers will win another road game against an NFC South team and represent the NFC again in the Super Bowl.
So there you have it, a rematch of Super Bowl XXIV when Joe Montana and Jerry Rice torched the John Elway-led Denver Broncos on that fateful January day in 1990.
This time, Peyton manning will have his revenge and hoist another Lombardi Trophy for his collection and for the city of Denver to enjoy!
Oh, yeah ... and the Oakland Raiders are on the clock for the 2014 draft.