Full Playoff Predictions including Super Bowl XLVI Winner
Yesterday, the other EDSFootball.com contributors and I released all individual game predictions for the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Here are my picks for the full playoffs from this point:
(1) Packers over (4) Giants
(2) 49ers over (3) Saints
NFC Championship Game (historical results): (1) Packers over (2) 49ers
I know this is actually complete chalk in terms of seeds, but most people will have the Saints over the 49ers and possibly even the Packers. I also suspect a fair amount of people will take the Falcons over the Giants in the first round. I'd love to go another way than the Packers, but they've been hands down the best team in football this year in my eyes, and if they can play to their potential, I don't see anyone beating them.
(1) Patriots over (5) Steelers
(2) Ravens over (3) Texans
AFC Championship Game (historical results): (1) Patriots over (2) Ravens
I'm not a Patriots fan, so I'd like to see myself be wrong here, but the Patriots are the best team in the AFC. They have come out flat in a lot of games this year, and then ended up just pouring it on and winning the game easily. Since losing to the Giants, the Patriots have won eight games in a row. Their offense is as good as any in the league, and their defense, though 31st in the league in yards, is 15th in points allowed. The poor defensive numbers are a little misleading though, as they are with Green Bay's 32nd-ranked defense. Though I wouldn't call either defense "good," they are victimized by such strong offenses. The defense is on the field more often with less rest when the offense can score as quickly and efficiently as these offenses do. I do think the Ravens can pose a challenge, but in New England, it's hard to pick against Brady and Belichick, the winningest coach/player combination in league history.
Super Bowl XLVI (historical results): Packers over Patriots
I know I'm not exactly going out on a limb picking the 15-1 Packers to win the Super Bowl. That said, it certainly isn't going to be an easy road. The Saints are perhaps the hottest team in the league, and it will take a lot to get by them if need be. The 49ers have a great defense that would likely slow down the Packers' offense. And while San Fran's offense is not great, Green Bay's defense is obviously their weak point. Even the Giants are capable of knocking the Packers off, given that Eli Manning led a drive in the final minutes of the game they played earlier in the year to tie them with less than a minute to go. Rodgers was able to one up Eli and march down the field in a matter of seconds to get into field goal range and get the win, but ever since the Chiefs upset Green Bay, they certainly were exposed as beatable.
The Patriots are also beatable, as they fall behind early far too often. Although their offense seems like they can score at will, their defense is quite vulnerable, and if they fall behind to a good playoff team, the Patriots certainly could go down. Every team has their flaws, though. The Ravens have been inexplicably bad at times this year, the Steelers have injury problems and can't beat the Ravens, and the Texans lost their number one quarterback earlier in the season, realistically taking them out of top contention in the eyes of most.
As for the game itself, the Packers are just the better overall team. You can flip a coin on Brady and Rodgers, and it's likely that whoever gets the ball last will be the team to triumph. But between the Packers defense being the better group in my mind and the Patriots problems with falling behind early, I like the Packers to come out on top. In this day and age, it's difficult for a team to repeat as champion, but the Packers are good enough to do just that. And I expect that they will.