Playoff predictions; final power rankings

Playoff predictions; final power rankings
January 2, 2014, 6:30 pm
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Happy 2014, everyone. Two things are bound to happen at the turn of every New Year: People make resolutions they can’t keep (including your's truly), and the NFL Playoffs get started. Call me brilliant (unlikely) or call me crazy (I’ve heard it many times before), here’s how I believe it’ll play out.

Wild Card Round
Saints over Eagles, 49ers over Packers, Colts over Chiefs, Bengals over Chargers

Divisional Round
Seahawks over Saints, 49ers over Panthers, Patriots over Bengals, Broncos over Colts

Conference Championship
Seahawks over 49ers, Patriots over Broncos

Super Bowl XLVIII
Patriots over Seahawks

Now … on to our final Power Rankings of the Season

Rank Team Record  

1.

LW: 3

 (12-4)

There are too many factors working in their favor to pick against them: Tom Brady’s excellence in the postseason, a defined running game (three-headed monster of Ridley, Blount & Vereen), and Bill Belichick knowing how to get the most out of his defense.

2.

LW: 1

 (13-3)

It’s hard to envision the Seahawks blowing a game at home this postseason. But they will have to go on the road for the Super Bowl, where they’ll fall shy of another World Championship.

3.

LW: 2

 (13-3)

Look, I like Peyton Manning. He’s one of the best of all time. But I’m also a HUGE Tennessee Vols fan, and have seen him choke in big games (he was 0-4 vs rival Florida, and the Vols had a much better team in two of those meetings) since he started playing in them. He won’t beat Tom Brady.

4.

LW: 4

 (12-4)

They’ve been there before and the 49ers defense will step up when the offense sputters. I just don’t think they’ll have enough to top the Seahawks in Seattle.

5.

LW: 6

 (12-4)

They’ll have their time in future postseasons, but 2014 will be a learning experience for Cam Newton & company.

6.

LW: 7

 (11-5)

New Orleans must pick up a running back they can give the ball to 15-20 times a game. Mark Ingram’s days as a Saint are all but over.

7.

LW: 12

 (11-5)

They’re a solid team, but outside of A.J. Green, the Bengals lack elite playmakers, which is the difference between good and great in the NFL.

8.

LW: 10

 (11-5)

Andrew Luck will soon be the standard by which QBs are judged, but right now he’s still learning from the Manning and Brady.

9.

LW: 11

 (10-6)

Chip Kelly is a heck of a coach, and he’s only going to get better in his second year with the Eagles.

10.

LW: 5

 (11-5)

The Chiefs simply ran out of gas at the end of the season after starting 9-0.

11.

LW: 16

 (8-7-1)

Expect the Packers to return to double-digit wins next season. They were ravaged by injury throughout 2013.

12.

LW: 15

 (9-7)

The steal of last year’s draft had to be Keenan Allen. It’s mind boggling he fell into the third round.

13.

LW: 8

 (10-6)

No doubt the best team to miss the playoffs. If they find a dynamic running back, look out.

14.

LW: 17

 (8-8)

This team went 8-4 in the last 12 games of the season and put up tons of points after buying into Todd Haley’s offense.

15.

LW: 9

 (8-8)

The Ravens missed the veteran leadership of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed when it mattered most – December.

16.

LW: 18

 (8-8)

It’s now a mental hurdle for the Cowboys after failing on their fourth-consecutive “win and in” game.

17.

LW: 13

 (8-8)

Acquiring players who are adept at stopping the run should be priority number one in the windy city.

18.

LW: 24

 (7-9) The window seems to be closing on Eli Manning and the Giants.

19.

LW: 20

 (7-9)

Seven wins in the best division in football is impressive. The Rams also have two picks in the top 13 of May’s draft.

20.

LW: 14

 (8-8)

The Dolphins scored just seven points in the final two weeks of the regular season when they controlled their playoff destiny. That’ll sting for a while.

21.

LW: 23

 (8-8)

Say what you want about his demeanor and antics, but Rex Ryan can coach. Most “experts” believed the Jets were one of the worst teams in the league entering the season.

22.

LW: 19

 (7-9)

So much talent. So much disappointment.

23.

LW: 21

 (7-9)

It’ll be interesting to see what the Titans do with Jake Locker this offseason.

24.

LW: 22

 (5-10-1)

The Vikings were in nearly every game in 2013 and won two of their final three games.

25.

LW: 26

 (6-10)

Kiko Alonso is a great player to watch. The linebacker racked up 159 tackles in his rookie season.

26.

LW: 25

 (4-12) Yes they lost two straight to end the year, but they were close losses to the 49ers and Panthers. The Falcons' defense, however, is awful.

27.

LW: 27

 (4-12)

Smh.

28.

LW: 28

 (4-12)

Lovie Smith will be able to get results out of the quality players Greg Schiano didn't in 2014.

29.

LW: 29

 (4-12)

It’s clear management believes in Gus Bradley’s vision for the future.

30.

LW: 30

 (4-12)

The Raiders' punch line continues.

31.

LW: 31

 (3-13) It’s embarrassing to be a Redskins fan these days.

32.

LW: 32

 (2-14)

Welcome to the Bayou City, Bill O’Brien.