Heading into week 14 the playoff picture is beginning to take form. The Texans, Falcons, and Ravens are pulling ahead of the pack, while the Chiefs, Jets, and Panthers are competing to be the worst teams in the league.
In the wacky world of football the key for success is consistency, which has been lacking this season. Major blowouts in headline games such as the 49ers manhandling of the Bears or the Giants beating of the Packers, caused critics to question the power of the best teams in the NFL. At one point, the Belichick/Brady-led Patriots had a losing record, which is unheard of since the early 2000s. But all is falling back together now, right?
Wrong. The end of this season should prove to be explosive with emerging talent and playoff spoilers. The NFC, specifically, is so boggled up that six or more teams may fight for the last two playoff spots. Easy playoffs picks, such as the Falcons and Bears are obvious contenders, but what about Seattle and New Orleans? Those teams will be a thorn in the side of top contenders looking for home field advantage.
The Green Bay Packers are likely to have as hot a run into the playoffs as they did in their 2010 Super Bowl season. Aaron Rodgers returned to MVP form when he threw for six touchdowns and 342 yards against the Texans. Their huge test will come week 15 in Chicago. The Colts could end up being a surprising wild card team. Andrew Luck put up record setting rookie numbers while bringing the Colts from a two win team to a playoff contender. If the Colts make the playoffs as a wildcard, they may be destined for a matchup against Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the first round. If Luck, who replaced Manning, gets a shot at taking down the master, the television ratings would be huge.
In the end, the best team wins the big game. The New England Patriots will face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Why, you ask? Because these teams are the best. The Patriots have the best offense in the league, averaging over 400 yards and 33 points per game. The 49ers have the best defense, ranking first in the NFL and giving up only 14 points per game. They are also top five against the pass and run. This is a matchup of superstars. Linebacker Patrick Willis against quarterback Tom Brady, it would be the most balanced clash of teams since the Colts and Bears matchup in 2007. Sophmore QB Colin Kaepernick will have his time to shine against the Patriots, but the pure firepower of the Patriots offense combined with a probable slip up from the 49ers young QB will turn into a 28-20 Patriots victory.
~Josh Henry, design editor