2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: AFC Playoffs (Yanotchko)
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I will post my NFC preseason playoff and Super Bowl picks separately, but here are my predictions for the AFC playoffs:
Wildcard Game 1: Bengals 24-Texans 20
These two teams certainly have a history with each other, as the Texans have knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs the last two years, and they will meet in the wildcard round for a third straight year. This time, however, the Bengals will beat Houston as Cincinnati has loaded up on offensive weapons with Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert, and I love the addition of former Steeler linebacker James Harrison to give them the veteran leadership. Third time will be the charm for the Bengals, as they will finally advance into the divisional round.
Wildcard Game 2: Ravens 31-Chiefs 17
The defending champions will open up their title defense with the surprise wildcard team in Kansas City this year. The Chiefs will have made it this far by steady QB play from Alex Smith, and Jamaal Charles who should have 1,600+ yards from scrimmage this year. The Ravens are the defending champs, and they will shut down the Chiefs offense with Haloti Ngata and Elvis Dumervil making life miserable for Andy Reid. Joe Flacco will add another playoff notch to his belt, as the Ravens will have an easy time at home to start.
Divisional Game 1: Broncos 35- Bengals 27
The Bengals will come into this game full of hope and on a high after finally winning their first playoff game in three years. The Broncos will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC, as they have been torching foes all year with their three-headed passing attack in Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Wes Welker. Although this score looks close, Peyton Manning will have this game in hand by the middle of the third quarter, while the Bengals will get some junk touchdowns late. The Broncos will prepare to host the AFC Championship game at Mile High.
Divisional Game 2: Patriots 21-Ravens 20
It's funny how football works out sometimes, but just like the Texans/Bengals, the Ravens and Pats always seem destined to meet in the playoffs. This year they will meet a week early in the divisional round, but the Patriots will have their revenge at Foxboro. The Patriots will have one of the best balanced attacks in the league, and will actually be riding their much improved defense to victory. Although this game will come down to the wire, in the end Brady will have just enough this year to displace Joe Flacco and the defending champions.
AFC Championship Game: Patriots 35-Broncos 31
This will be one of the most memorable playoff games in recent history, and of course who would not want to watch Manning vs Brady one more time. This game has so many layers of intrigue to it, of course you have the QB matchup, but you also have the Wes Welker revenge factor in play here as well, as he will try to stick it to his former coach. These teams will go up and down the field on each other, as both quarterbacks will be playing for a spot in the Super Bowl. In the end though Bill Belichick will have just enough wrinkles to confound Peyton Manning one more time, and Tom Brady will head to his sixth Super Bowl.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.