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Aug 31

TABM 2013 NFL Preview: Season Predictions

After our two weeks of previewing what major points of regression will occur and what trends each team will have, it’s time to put some pride on the line with the 2013 NFL Predictions. These predictions were originally made during “Pro Football Preview Show” on Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM. Since then, adjustments were made to compensate for some cuts and personnel changes, made on Sept. 7 at 6pm. Also, the postseason results were adjusted based simply on the changing of seeds, as every postseason prediction was determined by match-up and precedent. The original predictions claimed that the Seahawks would defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVIII. Does this match-up hold? Let’s get to business.

Note: all projected win ranges are created individually. They are created by intuition and regression. There’s no mathematical formula used, and they are not considering other expert opinions.

AFC North Division

Cincinnati Bengals: Projected 8-12 wins
Cincinnati BengalsAndy Dalton owns an 0-2 postseason record, so don’t think about the Bengals making a run to Super Bowl XLVIII. Only three quarterbacks in the NFL history owned an 0-2 postseason record heading into a Super Bowl season (Ken Anderson in 1981, Matt Hasselbeck in 2005 and Eli Manning in 2007). The pass rush should regress. So will A.J. Green. However, there’s no legitimate precedent that shows significant regression. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton’s third-down performance should improve with noticeable impact. This is a balanced team that should win games in several ways. That might be enough to win the division, but it’s anybody’s guess. Prediction: 11-5, AFC #3 seed

Baltimore Ravens: Projected 9-12 wins
Baltimore Ravens
Expect Joe Flacco to continue to build off his monumental postseason, at least in terms of regular season production. However, with the inevitable special teams regression, the Ravens will lose several of their big plays. Also, the Ravens will see some turnover regression, but more so in the form of some particularly bad games. Regardless of the massive personnel changes, this will be a well-coached and balanced team. Joe Flacco will try to become the first ever QB to win a playoff game in six consecutive years, and John Harbaugh will look to be the first head coach to win a playoff game in each of his first six seasons. They have a shot at it. Prediction: 10-6, AFC #5 seed

Pittsburgh Steelers: Projected 8-11 wins
Pittsburgh SteelersMany are lining up to witness the Steelers’ demise. However, it’s simply health and untimely losses that prevented this team from making last year’s postseason. It’s just like with the Ravens. No matter what obstacles are heading this team’s way, expect them to be a well-coached and balanced team. With the Ben Roethlisberger under center, this team will be able to handle the uptick in their strength of schedule for 2013. Instead, what hurts this team is how they can throw away from winnable games. During the team’s “off” years, they have lost games against the Falcons and Raiders (2006), Raiders and Browns (2009), and Raiders and Titans (2012). Prediction: 10-6, AFC #6 seed

Cleveland Browns: Projected 5-8 wins
Cleveland Browns
This franchise needs a winner badly, but they are still limited. The Browns went 5-11 last year against a weak schedule despite unusually great performances in key subsets (third down and close/late situations) relative to their defense. They went 5-11 last year against a weak schedule despite strong place kicking and kick return coverage. Sure, their red zone defense will get better, and the Pythagorean win difference projects this team to improve its record. But can this team truly surpass the other teams in the AFC North? If they don’t put at least a .500 record in the division, they need to truly thrive outside the division. That’s too hard to envision. Prediction: 6-10

AFC East Division

New England Patriots: Projected 10-13 wins
New England Patriots
Another year, another division title. Once again, the Patriots offense will regress. Once again, the team won’t be able to rely on the winning the turnover battle significantly game after game. This team won’t score another 557 points in 2013, but they will still have one of the best offenses. As long as Tom Brady is healthy, he’ll be incredibly tough to beat in the postseason. Plus, who is seriously going to threaten the Patriots to win the AFC East? Given the other quarterback situations, the upside for the competition is quite limited. When that’s combined with a team that rarely losses to mediocre teams in the regular season because the offensive efficiency and pace, that means the favorites prevail. Prediction: 12-4, AFC #1 seed

Miami Dolphins: Projected 5-9 wins
Miami DolphinsThis season leans much on the success of sophomore quarterback Ryan Tannehill. While not a favorite of the TABMathletics quarterback projection system, Tannehill did some things very well as a rookie. Don’t expect the defense to be as hard-nosed as it was last year, but the signal caller can compensate for such regression by bolstering the offense. At least with Mike Wallace, they will get much better production out wide. This team could be a playoff team — with an easier schedule. However, Miami faces a tough AFC North and an even-tougher NFC South. They would need to split those games to have a chance, and that’s tough to see. Prediction: 6-10

New York Jets: Projected 4-8 wins
New York Jets
People might be a bit too low on this team. Sure, the offense looks like a joke, but Mark Sanchez still held his own just enough to allow the defense to do its job. That defense can win games. As regression speaks, the defense was usually bad in key spots last year relative to its overall success. Meanwhile, the running game was too flat in the big-play department, and that shouldn’t happen again. They won’t fumble as much either. With the growing efficiency of offenses, this team might be stuck in neutral. But the Jets will still stick out a few unexpected victories. Don’t buy into the Doomsday scenarios. This is quite simply a run-of-the-mill below-average team. Prediction: 5-11

Buffalo Bills: Projected 4-7 wins
Buffalo Bills
That Buffalo defense last year was REALLY bad at times. However, with now EJ Manuel as the primary signal caller, the offense won’t have the explosiveness it had with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Not that Fitzpatrick was particularly good, but he could put together some drives. What results with the regression and the personnel change is an unfortunate evening out for a mediocre-to-bad team. This team’s long-term projection probably improved, but for now, the playoff drought should continue. One can’t expect the team to serious challenge the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Saints or Falcons. That’s probably at six losses. Can this team truly do better than .500 against the rest? Prediction: 5-11

AFC South Division

Houston Texans: Projected 9-12 wins
Houston Texans
The Texans were for long one of the elite teams last year. Suddenly, by season’s end, the total package looks like one that screams regression. The run defense won’t be as strong in 2013. Andre Johnson won’t replicate his production from last year after 100+ receptions and 1500+ yards. Finally, there’s no way to expect JJ Watt to repeat his “G.O.A.T. tier” season from 2012. What stands out worse is that 5-0 record in one-possession games (6-0 if the postseason gets included). Also, one can’t expect the team’s offensive health retain, after only the right guard situation impact the team’s continuity. However, they will have a weak schedule once again. Prediction: 10-6, AFC #4 seed

Indianapolis Colts: Projected 6-9 wins
Indianapolis Colts
This Colts should be better all around, save for the place it matters the most. The 2012 Colts were an 11-5 team that got outscored in the regular season. How did that happen? A big part of it was the team’s ridiculous 9-1 record in one-possession games. This included seven game-winning drives by Andrew Luck. The defense and run game will ease pressure off of Andrew Luck, but that won’t prevent the “plus-seven” curse that the team exposed themselves to when going from 2-14 to 11-5. Just say the team will play another 10 close games. If they go 5-5 in those games, this team is 7-9. Some of those close games will be comfortable wins, because Luck will be better overall. Prediction: 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars: Projected 3-7 wins
JaguarsPoor Jacksonville. At best, the Jaguars will be try-hard team that plays nothing more than a spoiler to the postseason-bound teams. At worst, they become the new Rams. Yes, those Rams that went 15-65 in a five-year span from 2007 to 2011. This Jaguars team won’t be thoroughly abused in the trenches in the passing game like they were last year. The running game will also improve, especially if Maurice Jones-Drew plays healthy this season. Finally, expect some elasticity after a strong defense in 2011 turned to a poor defense in 2012. Maybe they’ll earn a spoiler win or two. But this team needs to rehaul its quarterback situation if it wants to get out of the doldrums. Prediction: 5-11

Tennessee Titans: Projected 3-7 wins
Tennessee Titans
The TABMathletics quarterback projection system isn’t a huge fan of Jake Locker. Worse yet, he plays for a team that was quite frankly lucky to 6-10 last year. Tennessee scored eight return touchdowns. They were outscored enough to be worse than 5-11. Remember, that’s what some 2-14 teams in history can say. The defense should be better, especially in the first quarter. Also, the offensive line should be healthier, which will be a huge factor for Chris Johnson. However, there’s just not much confidence is this team to “put it all together.” Meanwhile, most expect the Jaguars or Raiders to have the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. It’s a hunch, but I say Tennessee will do that. Prediction: 3-13

AFC West Division

Denver Broncos: Projected 10-13 wins
Denver Broncos
The Broncos’ 11-game winning streak to end the 2012 regular season truly was unappreciated. That mark in net yards per drive, which was the best since the 2007 Patriots, won’t happen again. There should be slight regression for Peyton Manning after a team 100+ passer rating. But the defense will suffer some regression as well. Those 50+ sacks will take a dip. That elite third-down defense won’t be as strong. The rush defense will allow more touchdowns or allow over 100 yards per drive. Finally, there’s the negative turnover margin from last year that suggest regression, since no team with 12+ wins and negative margin improved their record the following season. Don’t expect 13-3 again. Prediction: 12-4, AFC #2 seed

San Diego Chargers: Projected 7-10 wins
San Diego ChargersThe Chargers suffered from bad breaks last year, most of which were created by themselves. With a 3-5 record when they led at the half, through the final 12 games, San Diego certainly was a better team than 7-9. Also, the team went 1-5 in game decided by seven points or fewer. Does that mean it translates to an improvement in record this year? That much isn’t a given, simply because of the coaching change and the minimal Pythagorean difference of note (the Chargers’ expected record was exactly 8-8 via the Pythagorean win percentage). Regression leans towards “yes” for that answer, especially when red zone defense is considered. Don’t sleep on this team. Prediction: 8-8

Kansas City Chiefs: Projected 6-10 wins
Kansas City Chiefs
This team seems to be getting all the love as a turnaround team. After a 2-14 campaign last season, there is much regression to be had in 2013. Turnover margin… passer rating differential… scoring offense… take your pick. All three should regress on the merit of those stats’ poor numbers alone. But this regression will be full-fledged. Not only did the team turnover the ball over too much, but it failed too often to create turnovers. Meanwhile, both Offensive Passer Rating and Defensive Passer Rating should regress. It’s a near lock that this team will improve significantly. However, the question is if this team will make the extra step and make that magical “plus-seven” improvement. I’ll pass. Prediction: 7-9

Oakland Raiders: Projected 2-7 wins
Oakland Raiders
Let’s go bold and say that this team will DEFINITELY NOT hold the first overall pick. With the decision to put Terrelle Pryor, the read option will be used. That will slow down the game, and make it easier to pull off the upset. This team won’t need to go possession-for-possession against the mediocre team. They can beat them with an efficient running game instead. Meanwhile, Pryor surprises teams with his arm, this team could even threaten for a playoff spot for a while. Also of note, the passing defense should regress. Unfortunately, the options are still limited for this team. The rest of division looks to be better, so expect this team to still struggle immensely. Prediction: 4-12

NFC North Division

Green Bay Packers: Projected 10-14 wins
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay will be just like New England and Denver. The quarterback play simply is too strong to expect anything fewer than 10 wins. The Packers won 11 games last year despite serious injury issues. They also had some untimely misses in the field goal department, with a 67 conversion percentage that won’t happen again. This means regression should be favorable for the team. The offense should drop a notch once more, but it won’t be by much. The team’s passer rating will still be in the higher 90s at worst. Aaron Rodgers should up another 30+ touchdowns and a personal 100+ rating. The NFC North may present one challenge for the division throne, but no more. Prediction: 12-4, NFC #2 seed

Chicago Bears: Projected 6-11 wins
Chicago Bears
This team could be the ultimate wild card. The offense last year prevented the team from making the playoffs and perhaps even making a Super Bowl run. The defense last year made big plays at an unattainable pace for 2013. So with one unit tracking up and another tracking down, where will this team go? The common theme you will find in these predictions is that the projections tend to look at offense as the more consistent group. After all, the defense is reactionary. This should not be considered a slight to Mark Trestman. Regression just doesn’t look good for Marshall, after last year he became the most-targeted wide receiver (percentage-wise) in two decades. Prediction: 7-9

Detroit Lions: Projected 6-9 wins
Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford’s victory against Seattle last year is his lone career victory against a winning team. The could loom big, as the Lions WILL improve their record in 2013 by an unknown amount of games. Regression likes this team to be better, as the team should’ve been 6-10 or 7-9 last year. But can this team really be much better than that? Getting Reggie Bush helps the team to be more balanced offensively, but the play of Stafford honestly was suspect save for his 2011 season. This team will still make more mistakes than usual, simply by design of the roster and the coaching staff. The Lions probably will take a back seat to the deep NFC playoff picture. Prediction: 6-10

Minnesota Vikings: Projected 4-8 wins
Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson can claim until he’s blue in the face that he will surpass 2500 rushing yards this season. It simply won’t happen. That’s not to cast any negative light on his “G.O.A.T. tier” season in 2012. This is just regression speaking. Like the Colts, the Vikings are more or less guaranteed to drop in the standings. However, the Vikings don’t have a winner and future elite quarterback like Andrew Luck. They are instead with Christian Ponder, who has been nothing more than an efficient game manager at his best. They will also not have the unheralded production from kicker Blair Walsh again after he put an improbable 10-for-10 from over 50 yards. Prediction: 5-11

NFC East Division

Philadelphia Eagles: Projected 6-11 wins
Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly most likely will use something offensively that opponents will struggle to adjust to immediately. In the NFL, that might be the best way to go from worst to first. However, regression also favors the Eagles. They were in Chiefs territory when it came to turnover ineptitude. Meanwhile, the pass defense can’t any worse when it comes to allowing touchdown passes. When the Eagles could only win one turnover battle last year, it was clear they were doomed. The Eagles might be able to run teams tired early in the game, and then allowed the regression-boosted defense to make enough big plays to get the team to some unexpected victories. It’s got to happen to somebody. Prediction: 10-6, NFC #4 seed

Dallas Cowboys: Projected 7-11 wins
Dallas Cowboys
Here at TABMathletics, we love to look at subsets. They generally tell us where or when a team might regress. Unfortunately for Dallas, they’ve had one stubborn subset that won’t regress. Just look at Tony Romo’s quarter-by-quarter statistics. His and the team’s struggles in the first quarter continue to put stress on the team to win close games. Good thing for Dallas that their defense will experience some positive regression in the turnover battle. They will absolutely need that after Romo put together five comeback in the fourth quarter last year. They oversold themselves at 8-8. Ultimately, until there’s better first-quarter play, this time will miss the playoffs. Prediction: 9-7

Washington Redskins: Projected 6-10 wins
Washington Redskins
Whether Robert Griffin III had off-season knee surgery or not, regression was coming for the quarterback and his passing offense. Now that there is knee surgery, this team could quickly have the wheels fall off. The TABMathletics quarterback projection system absolutely loved Griffin coming into last year. Trust that “the Third” will still have his great games. Even if the read option gets snuffed out, he’s a poised passer and a natural leader. The pass defense will improve, while the run offense will regress. That makes it a wash in terms of Griffin’s support. Ultimately, this team will have to wait until 2014, but this prediction still gives the deserved respect to Griffin. Prediction: 8-8

New York Giants: Projected 6-11 wins
New York Giants
The last team to host the Super Bowl and make the playoffs was the 2000 Buccaneers. Of the 41 Super Bowls to held at a stadium that an NFL team calls home, the hosts have 26 losing seasons. Remember what happened to teams in recent years. The 2010 Cowboys saw Tony Romo’s season end prematurely. The 2011 Colts never had Peyton Manning step foot on the field. The 2012 Saints never had their head coach on the sidelines. While this team in sneaky enough to be the first true host of 42 to make the Super Bowl, we’re going to trust this bad luck streak for the hosts. After all, there will be regression in yards per point differential for a team that went 9-7 last year. Prediction: 8-8

NFC South Division

New Orleans Saints: Projected 9-12 wins
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is one of four elite quarterbacks that should be good enough for double-digit wins. However, he hasn’t gotten the support that even the unbalanced Patriots and Packers can appreciate. That was certainly apparent in last year’s 7-9 campaign. Good thing for Brees that his defense pretty much can’t get any worse. It starts with an easier schedule and should go from there. Even if Brees put up another 40+ touchdown season, he probably shouldn’t need it. Rob Ryan might be a mediocre defensive coordinator, but Brees is a better winner than Tony Romo. Even more so, Sean Peyton is a better head coach than Jason Garrett. Prediction: 11-5, NFC #3 seed

Carolina Panthers: Projected 6-11 wins
Carolina Panthers
The Panthers can’t seem to get a break, even if part of it has to do with Ron Rivera hurting his own team. His piss poor game management last year cost team at least Week 4 loss in Atlanta and probably did so as well the following week at home in Seattle. With those games turning into wins, maybe this team fights for a playoff birth. Expect something better than the 2-12 mark in games decided by seven points or fewer. That’s the team’s record under Rivera through two seasons. After back-to-back 2-6 starts, this team could wonderfully use a strong start. Meanwhile, the Cam Newton-run read option seems to be less regressable than those in DC or San Fran. Prediction: 10-6, NFC #5 seed

Atlanta Falcons: Projected 8-11 wins
Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons seem to love the even-numbered years. They go 11-8 in 2008, en route to a surprising playoff birth. They then go 13-3 in 2010 and 2012, with Matt Ryan playing like a comeback king. There’s just one problem with Ryan’s comeback heroics: it regresses the following year, and that likely means the team will drop in the standings. This team snacked on the league’s easiest regular season schedule last year. The pass defense will suffer from some regression this year. The Falcons won’t be 7-2 again in games decided by seven points or fewer. Don’t fool yourself, though. This team will compete for playoffs and will be Super Bowl-level dangerous if they get there. Prediction: 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Projected 5-8 wins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Freeman should be recognized as the league’s most inconsistent quarterback. He can make the big plays in close games. He can be statistical demon in select games. He can make the team better than they should. Then again, he can be a turnover machine. He can be inaccurate. He can lose to the 2012 Eagles after September. The team should be better with its pass defense, but it will regress negatively on the run defense. The problem here is the offense’s need to rely on big play due to Freeman’s inconsistencies. With a consistent elite offense in New Orleans and one of the most solid-run franchises in Atlanta, this just won’t work out for a division title. Prediction: 6-10

NFC West Division

Seattle Seahawks: Projected 10-14 wins
Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson will undoubtedly regression, just like with Robert Griffin III. However, Wilson will be healthy enough to limit such regression. Meanwhile, this team actually significantly outperformed its record, with positive Pythagorean regression looming. Couple that this front seven got better and the home-field advantage will remain as palpable as ever. If there was somebody to “start” the Seahawks bandwagon, it came last year from yours truly. It’s an all-around strong team. Heck, it’s biggest weakness might be the head coach, and Pete Carroll does some great things schematically on defense. This team probably would’ve been 13-3 last year if not for Wilson’s early slumber as a rookie. Prediction: 13-3, NFC #1 seed

San Francisco 49ers: Projected 9-13 wins
San Francisco 49ers
Let’s officially put the Super Bowl losers’ curse to rest. It reached its pinnacle in the 2000s, but as of late, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. The 2010 Colts won their division. The 2011 Steelers went 12-4. The 2012 Patriots broke the losers’ 15-year string when they earned a postseason victory. This team looks every bit as strong as any other team in the league. Colin Kaepernick is well-coached and talented enough to work through the inevitable regression. The defense will still fight through Aldon Smith’s sack regression. The only hang up is health, after last year only eight missed games of note besides Kaepernick moving under center mid-season. Prediction: 10-6, NFC #6 seed

St. Louis Rams: Projected 5-10 wins
St. Louis Rams
The Rams earned some impressive victory last year, but ultimately went to waste. After going 2-1-1 against the Seahawks and 49ers, they only finished 7-8-1. The pass rush won’t be as strong, and there isn’t strong precedent to suggest the offense will make up for it. Also, there could health issues to worry about for 2013. Only four players finished on Injured Reserve last year. Expect that to increase moving forward. The Rams should be happy to see the AFC South instead of the AFC East, but the schedule isn’t going to be that much easier. The Rams simply aren’t impressive enough to beat out a deep playoff field in the NFC. Prediction: 6-10

Arizona Cardinals: Projected 4-9 wins
Arizona Cardinals
This team was more polarizing than the Bears. They finished best in Defensive Passer Rating, but put together one of the worst offensive seasons ever. Especially with what will be an easier schedule to face defensively, the Cardinals should see more points and passing efficiency come into play. However, Ray Horton is gone as defensive coordinator. Again, a theme here is to trust offensive consistency over defensive consistency. This isn’t a bad team at all, but there has to be some team that suffers heartbreaking losses. As you can see, every team in the NFC is max projected to finish .500 or better. Begrudingly, the Cardinals will be the sacrificial lamb as the team that hits minimum projection. Prediction: 4-12

Wild Card Weekend

AFC #3 Cincinnati Bengals over AFC #6 Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh SteelersExpect Andy Dalton to avoid the select the bad company of starting 0-3 in the postseason. How funny it must be. This season has the most hype for any season in Cincinnati since the 2005 squad lost at home in the #3 v. #6 match-up to Pittsburgh. Perhaps this is the one where the Bengals finally break through. The Bengals are just a bit more talented and deeper all around. AJ Green works better than Antonio Brown. The Bengals’ front seven is better now than the Steelers’.

AFC #4 Houston Texans over AFC #5 Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans
Baltimore RavensAs already mentioned, no quarterback has yet to win a postseason game in six consecutive seasons. Joe Flacco gets a chance to become the first, but the Texans will be a bit too much on both sides of the ball. Remember, the Texans blowout the Ravens at home last year. Like Baltimore, the Texans can do pretty much everything well. Baltimore’s best advantage from 2012 was special teams, but those two will see those units converge in quality. Finally, the magic runs out.

NFC #6 San Francisco 49ers over NFC #3 New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ersNew Orleans SaintsThe Saints lost to the 49ers in the 2011 Divisional Round at Candlestick, then again in New Orleans last year in a pivotal regular season game. I think the balance San Francisco has truly exposes what the Saints lack. Rex Ryan’s defenses struggled in Dallas, but they especially faded as the season progressed. In the postseason, the balanced teams tend to thrive while unbalanced teams finally learn that they can’t hide their shortcomings. This will be the case as the 49ers earn another playoff victory.

NFC #4 Philadelphia Eagles over NFC #5 Carolina Panthers
Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina PanthersNeither team seems like a particularly favorable candidate to win a playoff game. Thus, the home team with the element of surprise will end of being the victors. By this time, team will some of Chip Kelly’s tricks, but not all of them. Meanwhile, Kelly will make some adjustments to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Neither Cam Newton or Michael Vick seem like the particular Super Bowl type, but Vick has a few playoff wins on his belt. Add another one if this match-up occurs.

Divisional Round

AFC #1 New England Patriots over AFC #4 Houston Texans
Houston TexansNew England PatriotsDuring the WGLS prediction, I said we’re not getting a new Manning v. Brady playoff game this year. Then, the Broncos were the #3 seed, so they lost to the Bengals in the Divisional Round. Instead, the Broncos are the #2 seed and host the Bengals. Do we get Brady-Manning XV now? Again, these postseason match-ups tend to favor the more balanced teams. However, I more staunchly believe in Bill Belichick being able to significantly outcoach Gary Kubiak. The latter was outclassed twice in 2012.

AFC #2 Denver Broncos over AFC #3 Cincinnati Bengals
Denver BroncosCincinnati BengalsPeyton Manning isn’t going to get his ninth one-and-done. Between these two teams, Cincinnati would only win at home for Dalton’s first playoff win. He won’t be able to do on the road without that extra ounce of desperation. The problem for Cincinnati would be trying to keep up possession-by-possession with Denver. The Broncos can get the job done on both sides of the ball, so that should certainly help out Manning. Again, this is the year getting a playoff win for Cincinnati. It’s not plural.

NFC #1 Seattle Seahawks over NFC #6 San Francisco 49ers
Seattle SeahawksSan Francisco 49ersBoy, this rivalry is going to heat up. However, we saw last year in Week 16 what the Seahawks can do at home. They thrashed the 49ers, 42-13. Colin Kaepernick is a very quick dual threat, but the Seahawks are fast enough to keep up with him. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson is a rare breed of composure and leadership. He’ll handle the pressure cooker front seven but than Kaepernick, especially in the great Northwest. Plus, we won’t see a Super Bowl loser win multiple playoff games.

NFC #2 Green Bay Packers over NFC #4 Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers
Philadelphia EaglesThis will definitely be the weaker of the two NFC postseason games. Green Bay will simply shred through Philadelphia, as I don’t see what the defense can do to have consistent success this year. Sure, Green Bay’s defense was last seen being run off the field by Colin Kaepernick, but he does a better job of protecting the ball than Michael Vick. Plus, the Packers now know what they need to do to at least slow down the quicker quarterbacks who can run and throw.

Conference Championships

AFC #1 New England Patriots over AFC #2 Denver Broncos
Denver BroncosNew England PatriotsSo what matters more: precedent or balance? Denver seems to have the more balanced team, but we all know there’s going to be that one rough postseason game for Peyton Manning.  Can the Broncos compensate for it? Considering the elements of late January in Foxborough, I tend to think that this will be set back game for Manning. I wasn’t a fan of going with so much chalk last week, and I’m not a fan now. However, the precedent holds bigger favor than balance here. Brady wins one back.

NFC #1 Seattle Seahawks over NFC #2 Green Bay Packers
Seattle SeahawksGreen Bay Packers
This will an equally mass media-hyped conference championship game. In the rebirth of the “Fail Mary” game, the primary key to last year’s Week 3 win for Seattle will come into play. Remember, the Seahawks sacked Green Bay eight times in the first half in the game. Green Bay simply doesn’t have good enough pass protection to hold up against an elite defense. Meanwhile, if Aaron Rodgers gets slowed down, what will the Green Bay D do to stop Russell Wilson and the ‘Hawks run game?

Super Bowl XLVIII

Seattle Seahawks 27, New England Patriots 20
Seattle Seahawks
New England PatriotsRussell Wilson doesn’t have Tom Brady’s overall experience, but he’s already established the qualities of a steady performer and an elite-level leader. It’s tough to predict a second-year quarterback to win it all, but Wilson is a rare breed. No moment seems to big for him. Doesn’t that seem quite familiar? Remember, Tom Brady came in as a second-year quarterback in 2001. He had the more balanced team and upset the high-octane Rams. The Seahawks are the best team all around, so they win.

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