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.

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Johnson briefly exited Sunday's game against the Bills in the fourth quarter. He said after the game that he was "fine," but felt a "pop" in the ankle. ...
Oct 1 3:41PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Foster is likely going to miss plenty of practice reps this week before being a game-time decision against the Cowboys on Sunday. Foster said he wasn't 100 percent in Week...
Oct 1 3:38PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (meniscus) has resumed jogging, and hopes to return in a "few... Sidelined since September 7, Clowney was given a 4-6 week timetable upon going down. That makes a "few weeks" attainable, but not ahead of schedule. The Clowney...
Sep 30 3:18PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Texans coach Bill O'Brien referred to Arian Foster (hamstring) on Monday as "day to... Foster himself acknowledged he wasn't 100 percent in Sunday's win over the Bills, managing six yards on eight carries. He'll likely continue to be limited in practice all...
Sep 29 4:20PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Following Sunday's win over the Bills, Arian Foster (hamstring) admitted he "just wasn't... Foster rushed eight times for six yards while playing on just 54.1 percent of the snaps, but did salvage his box score a bit with seven catches for 55 yards. The good news...
Sep 29 8:42AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson said the ankle injury that briefly sidelined him Sunday is "fine." "I was more scared than anything because I felt a pop, so I went in and got checked," Johnson said. We never like to hear about pops, but Johnson did come back...
Sep 28 5:37PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught three passes for 28 yards in Week 4 against the Bills. He was targeted five times. Graham is on pace for just 36 catches and 380 yards this season, but should be more involved going forward now that he's healthy. He was used in...
Sep 28 5:25PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue had nine carries for nine yards in Week 4 against the Bills. With Arian Foster playing through a hamstring injury, Blue was used in a committee and finished with more carries. He added two catches for 16 yards on three targets. Blue...
Sep 28 5:22PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 4 win over... Hopkins beat Corey Graham for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. He finished with just six targets despite Andre Johnson missing time with an ankle injury....
Sep 28 5:03PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster totaled 61 yards on 15 touches in Sunday's Week 4 win over Buffalo. Foster was held to six yards on eight carries, but was targeted 10 times by checkdown artist Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was clearly running at half-speed and looked sluggish...
Sep 28 4:07PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions... Fitzpatrick's only notable play was a 35-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins at the end of the first half. He managed the Texans to a win without any help from Arian Foster or...
Sep 28 3:55PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson left Sunday's Week 4 game against the Bills with an ankle injury. Johnson came up lame on a pass in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room. He was able to jog off under his own power and later returned to the game. Johnson...
Sep 28 3:01PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Arian Foster (hamstring) is moving with a slight limp... Per Breer, the Texans will "monitor his hamstring early in the game, determine his workload from there." It's similar to what was reported by beat writer Tania...
Sep 28 11:40AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) is active for Week 4 against the Bills. Foster will be available for a full workload after sitting out last week. He's Rotoworld's No. 12 running back against the Bills' top-five run defense. Inactive for the...
Sep 28 10:33AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to the Houston Chronicle, Arian Foster will "definitely" play in Sunday's... The chronic hamstring issue Foster has been battling for two months is good to go. "Foster would't be active if he wasn't 100 percent. That means he'll get a full...
Sep 28 10:03AM Read More