This blog is the final blog in my 3-part series here at the Camel Clutch Blog where I preview the upcoming 2011-2012 NFL Season. In the first blog I looked at the AFC, in Part 2 I looked at the NFC and finally here, in Part 3, we will look at the NFL Playoffs. Let’s preview the NFL Playoffs and give my prediction of who will be the Super Bowl Champions at Super Bowl 46.
First round bye: Baltimore Ravens & New England Patriots
Division winners: San Diego Chargers & Indianapolis Colts
Wild card teams: New York Jets & Pittsburgh Steelers
The New York Jets have a distinct advantage over the San Diego Chargers in that they play in the AFC East while the Chargers play in the AFC West. The AFC East is much more competitive then the AFC West which brings on closer & better competition. It also doesn’t help that the Chargers have playoff curse Norv Turner at the helm of this coaching staff. The Jets have proven the last two seasons that they are a great playoff team when dealing with adversity.
Pittsburgh Steelers over Indianapolis Colts:
As discussed in the AFC East preview in Part I of the blogs, the Indianapolis Colts will win their division but that doesn’t mean they will be all that good. The days of the Colts being a top AFC team are over right now and I don’t have great faith in the Jim Caldwell being that good of a head coach. Pittsburgh is a strong team that plays in a great division and like the Jets, dealing with that type of competition throughout the year will help them be successful in the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens over New York Jets:
If you think the Jets can make a third straight AFC Championship game then think again folks. The Jets may have reached their plateau as a top AFC team and not winning it all last year hurt their chances of being a consistent threat in the AFC. Getting older and not getting younger in the offseason also hurt their chances in my opinion.
Baltimore is a great team, with an easy schedule and in a great division. Flacco is ready to prove his worth in the NFL and this is the year to do it. If Flacco can’t get it done this season then people will start to wonder if he ever will. He is similar to Matt Ryan in that you can make a case that he is a future Super Bowl winning QB but it’s not as solid as Matt Ryan’s case. Fact is the Ravens are a better team and their defense would give the Jets major problems in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers over New England Patriots:
I went back and forth on this game because you just don’t know who could win if they met in the playoffs as predicted here. I’m going on past practice and how history has shown itself in recent years in that the New England Patriots just don’t seem to ever get the job done in the playoffs. If it happens this year, as I predict, I believe we may start hearing grumblings of whether or not Tom Brady has reached his glass ceiling & the glory days that was the Patriots may be over.
As for the Steelers, when it comes to playoff time they just seem to show up when advertised or needed. Pittsburgh can ride that same wave that the Green Bay Packers & New York Giants did in year’s past by showing up in other people’s houses and advancing in the playoffs. The Steelers defense in playoff conditions will give Tom Brady some major headaches.
AFC Championship Game:
Baltimore Ravens over Pittsburgh Steelers:
This was seriously a tough call to make because these two teams are so evenly matched. I can easily see both teams splitting the season series and going head-to-head with everything on the line for the season’s tiebreaker. The reason why I went with the Ravens over the Steelers is because of two things, I believe the Ravens have a more superior defense that continues not to age like the Steelers did and the fact that the Ravens would be the home team in this prediction.
The Ravens defense always seems to stay consistent over time and continues to add younger players to continue to make it just as dynamic as it was 10 years ago. I have a feeling that if the Ravens make the playoffs then you will continue to hear how this may be Ray Lewis’ swan song. If that’s the case then expect the Ravens to try to win one for their defensive leader & minister.
First round bye: Green Bay Packers & Atlanta Falcons
Division winners: Philadelphia Eagles & St. Louis Rams
Wild card teams: New Orleans Saints & Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints over Dallas Cowboys:
I really like both of these teams in the 2011-2012 NFL Season but not good enough to win their Division this year. Both of these teams would be Wild Card threats to go right through the NFC Playoffs similar to the Green Bay Packers of last season. Since the Cowboys can’t play the Eagles in the First Round of the NFL Playoffs this would be the first round matchup according to my predictions.
When comparing these two teams and the variable of the Saints being the home team, it’s safe to say that New Orleans would be the favorites and winners in this one. It’s so hard to beat the Saints in the Superdome, let alone in the playoff season. New Orleans advances in this potential playoff matchup.
Philadelphia Eagles over St. Louis Rams
There is no question in my mind who would win this matchup. Once again the Eagles can’t play the Cowboys in the First Round of the Playoffs, hence the reason why for this playoff matchup. The Eagles are a team of destiny in the minds of many and the schedule that they play outweighs the competition the Rams will see this season. Add that to the Eagles being the home team and this would be a pretty easy win for the Eagles in the First Round of the Playoffs.
I don’t even think the Rams could hold a candle to the Eagles in this potential playoff matchup which makes it pretty easy for me to pick the Eagles in this one. St. Louis is still climbing as a good team in the NFL but it isn’t right now. Philadelphia would clearly advance in this predicted playoff matchup.
Green Bay Packers over New Orleans Saints:
Out of every predicted playoff matchup I have done (and will do) this is the most intriguing and interesting of the predicted playoff matchups. These two teams are so good and so dynamic that this matchup would be incredible to watch in a playoff-type atmosphere. It would be the last two defending Super Bowl Champions looking to add another Lombardi trophy to their franchise.
When you compare the two teams and look at the area of where one team is better then the other you have to go to the Defenses. The Green Bay Packers have a better D then the New Orleans Saints and I would say they have slightly better offense then the Saints as well. The Saints were the trendsetters in the type of offense the Packers mastered last season on the road to the Championship. It would be a close game but the Green Bay “D” would control the New Orleans offense.
Atlanta Falcons over Philadelphia Eagles:
This is another intriguing and interesting playoff matchup simply because it would be two of the best teams in the NFL (similar to Packers/Saints) vying for a continuation of their drive to be Super Bowl Champions. While the Eagles are poised by some to be a team of “destiny” I just don’t see Michael Vick being able to beat Matt Ryan who has a lot more to prove then Vick does. Ryan has a growing monkey on his back that he can’t get the job done in the playoffs, I victory over this Eagles team would prove he can handle the pressure.
I believe the Falcons offense would be able to spread out the Eagles defense that is supposed to be so good. They would cause problems for the Eagles defense and would make it too hard to control the powerful Falcons defense. Another reason why I believe the Falcons would beat the Eagles in this matchup is because I don’t believe any team led by Michael Vick can win the Super Bowl, despite what he did last season, it will be very hard for him to do it again.
NFC Championship Game:
Green Bay Packers over Atlanta Falcons
A rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional Game. A game in which the Atlanta Falcons were supposed to own and win over the 6th seed & injured Green Bay Packers; not only did that not happen by the Packers embarrassed the Falcons on their home turf. It would be a major opportunity for the Falcons to avenge the loss from last year’s playoffs. Only problem in this scenario is that Green Bay is healthier then last season and poised to be a strong team that could be on the verge of a mini-dynasty.
While Matt Ryan will show he can win in the playoffs I believe the pressure of playing for the NFC Championship and in Green Bay would prove too much for the young Quarterback. It would serve as one more learning curve for the young QB as he continues to build himself into a monster NFL QB that will win a Championship soon. Green Bay is much too good and has an offense that can hurt the Falcons defense (again), while Atlanta improved their offense, the defense is still a weakness for the great Atlanta team.
Super Bowl 46:
Green Bay Packers over Baltimore Ravens:
They proved everyone wrong, become the Super Bowl Champs and proved they have the heart of champion. This is one of the only defending Super Bowl Champions that I think could repeat because of the potential dynasty we are starting to see build. They everything click correctly for this Packers team and can become Super Bowl Champs again, for the 2nd year in a row.
The Baltimore Ravens will definitely give the Packers a run for their money but I’m not sure even the Ravens “D” could stop the Packers offense on the big stage of the Super Bowl. When you look at the other side of the coin I believe the Packers “D” could control the Ravens offense which does not hold a candle to the Packers offense. It would be another great Super Bowl but I predict the title to return to Title Town once again.
Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!
Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.
Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.
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