As evidenced in an earlier post, my preseason NFL predictions were pretty bad. But that is why there are erasers on the end of pencils; we all make mistakes, in my case I make plenty of them. Now is the time for redemption however, because here are my NFL playoff predictions:
AFC Wild Card: Kansas City over Houston, Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
The Chiefs defense is criminally underrated, and when the chips are down, I'd take Alex Smith over Brian Hoyer (yuck), because of that. The Texans have a great defense too, but they have more weapons to shut down than the Chiefs do, although that weapon is the best on the field. And in the Steelers-Bengals rubber match, expect Big Ben to throw it a lot without a running back to hand the ball off to. A.J McCarron has been decent enough for the Bengals to beat two bad teams in San Francisco and Baltimore, but won't be enough to beat the Steelers. The Cincy playoff hex will continue.
AFC Divisional Round: New England over Kansas City, Pittsburgh over Denver
The Chiefs are going to give the Pats everything they can handle with the defense they can throw at Brady and his weak offensive line, but in the postseason the Pats usually find ways to win, and they will do that again this time. Peyton Manning will start for the Broncos, but the battle will be won with Denver's defense going up against the Steelers offense. The Steelers won the first battle back in December, and it's hard to imagine the second not going Pittsburgh's way either.
AFC Championship Game: New England over Pittsburgh
Once the Pats get some of their weapons back and get healthy enough, they will have enough to overcome the Steelers and their offense. The Pittsburgh defense will have to step up at some point if they are to make a 2005/06 style run to the Super Bowl, and they just don't have it. The Pats are back in the Big Game.
NFC Wild Card Round: Seahawks over Vikings, Washington over Packers
The cold is a factor, and not having a discernible running back is also a problem, but the Seahawks boatraced the the Vikings in Week 13, and even though Minnesota has the defense to keep them in the game, and Adrian Peterson, playoff games come down to QB play, and there just isn't that much confidence in Teddy Bridgewater making that one play to put the Vikings over the top. Momentum is usually thrown out the window coming into the postseason, but with the Packers you have to take it into account. If it wasn't for a Hail Mary in Week 13 against the Lions, they may well not even be here. Washington has won four in a row, has confidence, and was 6-2 at FedEx Field this season. They pull off the "upset".
NFC Divisional Round: Panthers over Seahawks, Cardinals over Washington
The Seattle/Carolina game might well be the best game of the entire postseason, because you know the Seahawks don't fear the Panthers and Carolina finally got the Seattle monkey off their back after a myriad of losses against them. A similar Seattle team was tripped up in the Divisional Round on the road against an NFC South opponent back in 2012/13, and this Carolina team will be rested, if not a little weary of what the Seahawks can do, and for good reason. With Carolina at home, Cam Newton will take over and win this game. Arizona may have been blown out by Seattle in the final game, but they also blew out Green Bay the week before. Great offense, opportunistic defense and a great coach means they should take it easily over Washington.
NFC Championship Game: Cardinals over Panthers
Last year, John Skelton started this game in the postseason. Carson Palmer will likely start this one. The defensive matchup here is going to be fantastic, and how Carolina and Josh Norman attempt to shut down the Cardinals offense will be a battle of wills. Something tells me though that this might be Arizona's year...
Super Bowl 50: Cardinals over Patriots
Tom Brady, in his hometown, with a chance to pass his idol Joe Montana in Super Bowl's won... the narratives would be amazing if fulfilled. But that's why Arizona is here. To spoil all of them.
So sorry to the Cardinals in advance for ruining your season. At least you have three chances to lose unlike the four for eight other teams.