2013 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14 Edition
Who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl - Broncos, Patriots or Field?
Kevin Hanson (follow on Twitter): Broncos
Before the season began, I predicted the Texans to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII so I'm not sure I'm the most qualified to make this prediction; then again, that hasn't stopped me before.
It's hard to imagine the Broncos and Patriots not hanging on to the top two seeds, which gives each time a first-round bye and home games in the divisional round of the playoffs. Assuming (at least) one of those teams wins its home game, the AFC Championship Game will be in Denver or Foxborough.
With four games against teams with a losing record, I expect the Broncos to hold on to the No. 1 seed and the Broncos and Patriots to hold serve in the divisional round, which gives us a Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning rematch. Except this time around, the game will be in Denver and the Broncos won't blow a 24-point lead.
And unfortunately for Manning, he's going to have to brave the elements and winds in the Meadowlands to get his second Super Bowl title, but that's a topic for a different day.
John Trifone (follow on Twitter): Broncos
The AFC seems to be a two-team race between the Broncos and Patriots. I still think the Bengals could peak at the right time, but as of right now, they're not quite on that level yet.
I know we saw Peyton play poorly in New England two weeks ago, but I'm still going to take the Broncos. They just have so many weapons, and right now, it looks like only the Patriots can score with them. I think New England is more likely to lose to another team, prior to facing the Broncos. I also think that Peyton is likely to play better in Denver, which as of right now, is where the AFC will go through.
* Enter DraftStreet's Week 14 $1,000 Freeroll: FREE entry and $1,000 in prizes.
Sean Beazley (follow on Twitter): Broncos
As much as it pains me to say it, I think Peyton Manning and the Broncos represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I can't see a scenario where the Patriots walk into Denver and win the AFC Championship, especially after what happened in their last meeting. There really isn't a team in the AFC that I think can beat Denver in Mile High.
I think the NFC representative will end up winning the Super Bowl, assuming the team comes from either the NFC South or NFC West.
Dan Yanotchko (follow on Twitter): Field
This year's AFC representative will come from the field, although it does appear that New England and Denver have the best chances.
The Patriots are just missing too many important pieces on defense, as without Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, teams can gash them up the middle with their running games. The Broncos are a flawed team on defense as well, and of course, Peyton Manning's struggles are well-documented once the calender and weather hits January.
Although my preseason prediction was for the Patriots, and my half-season prediction jinxed the Bengals into losing Leon Hall and Geno Atkins, I would say either the Bengals or Colts will emerge in the playoffs.