Playoff Predictor: Broncos vs Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVII

The 2012 NFL PLayoffs are set and with the Wild Card round starting this Saturday, here’s a breakdown of the match-ups and my Bold predictions:

 

AFC Wild Card: Houston Texans vs Cincinnati Bengals Saturday at 4:30pm

Houston (12-4) will probably feel a sense of Deja Vu as they play the Bengals (10-6) on Saturday as the two tangoed in last years playoffs. The game marked the first time the Texans had made the playoffs resulting in a 31-10 drubbing of Cincy.

Houston Playmakers RB Arian Foster, DE J.J. Watt and WR Andre Johnson were keys to victory against the Bengals last year and will be relied on again come Saturday. Also the Texans will have starter Matt Schaub this year (Schaub was injured last season late).

For Cincinnati, second year studs QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green will be the X factors for Cincy on Saturday. Also, to the Bengals credit, their defense has been solid all season finishing the year with the 7th best passing defense (212.5 yards per game) and the 12th best rushing defense (102.5 yards per game).

Prediction: I foresee a more competitive contest between these two teams in this go-around. The game will ultimately come down to turnovers. Andy Dalton threw 3 interceptions in last years wild card game. The Texans committed no turnovers. I have the Texans winning 21 to 17 over the Bengals.

Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis Colts Sunday at 1:00pm

The Ravens (10-6) will take on the surprising Colts (11-5) in a game that will be high with emotions on both sidelines. The Ravens were a few different play calls away from making it to the Super Bowl last year, and went on a campaign to prove themselves this year in the AFC (though they slowed down at seasons end). The Colts came into this season with little to no expectations at all. A rookie quarterback leading a team that went 2-14 the season before didn’t exactly add up to a winning season. However, Andrew Luck and Co. fought their way into the post-season game by game. Not to mention doing so while watching their head coach, Chuck Pagano, battle Leukemia .

The Ravens will be led by QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice as they’ll attempt to mix their power running game and passing attacks together to try and overwhelm Indy’s defensive schemes.

The Colts will no doubt rely heavily on the shoulders of potential Rookie Of the Year winner Andrew Luck. Luck broke Cam Newtons rookie record for passing yards in a single season finishing with 4,374 yards.

Prediction: I see the Baltimore Ravens winning this contest, but not without a fight from Indy. While the Ravens defense hasn’t been up to snuff with the loss of Ray Lewis and Co. I still believe the Ravens have the upper hand in this one. Luck and the Colts have had a phenomenal season, no doubt about it, but I believe the magic ends this Sunday as Luck cracks under the pressures of post-season play. Ravens win 28-13.

NFC Wild Card: Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings Saturday at 8:00pm

The Packers (11-5) were stunned by the New York Giants in last years NFC Divisional Round and have an opportunity in this years post-season to prove their still as good as they were when they won it all in 2011. The Minnesota Vikings were similar to the Indianapolis Colts this year in the sense that they weren’t expected to make the playoffs. With second year QB Christian Ponder at the helm, and Adrian Peterson coming back from a knee injury, Minnesota had a few questions marks to say the least. Well, Adrian “All Day” Peterson had a response…run…a lot. Led by Adrian Peterson’ stunning season, becoming only the 7th NFL rusher to reach 2,000 yards (he finished with 2,097 yards), the Vikes find themselves in the post-season.

Green Bay will no doubt be led by the likes of QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews, and WR Greg Jennings, etc. The Packers started shaky at 2-2 but finished strong going 10-2 to close out the season.

The Vikings will no surprise call an number 28 to once again carry the load and the team on his shoulders in this one. The Vikes could stand a chance in this one seeing as they did beat Green Bay to close out the season 37-34. This one, however, I have going to Green Bay with the Packers winning 21-7.

Seattle Seahawks vs Washington Redskins Sunday at 4:30pm

The Seahawks (11-5) and the Redskins (10-6) are nearly mirror images of one another. Both teams sport sensational rookie QB’s in Seattle’ Russell Wilson and Washington’ Robert Griffin III. Both teams are in the top 5 in the NFL for rushing yards per game, Washington leading the league with 169.3yds and Seattle in 3rd with 161.2yds. The only edge Washington has over Seattle is that the Skins made the playoffs by winning the NFC East division in a season finale this past Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite both teams having play-makers on both sides of the ball, this games outcome will be determined by the play of two men. The performances by Seattle’ Russell Wilson and Washington’ Robert Griffin III will decide who moves on and who goes home.

I predict a shootout in this one with both rookie QB’s trading punches all game long. I have Seattle edging out Washington 31-28.

Divisional Rounds and Super Bowl Pick:

The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots earned a first round bye, same for the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. Both the Broncos and Falcons earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the picks I made above the Broncos would play the Ravens with the Patriots playing the Texans in the AFC. In the NFC, based on my picks, the Falcons would play the Seahawks and the 49ers would play the Packers.

My Picks:

I have the divisional rounds and championship rounds going down something like this:

Patriots vs Texans: The Pats send Matt Schaub and the Texans home as they win 24-14 in style led by Tom Brady and Co.

Ravens vs Broncos: Peyton Manning and the Broncos make it look easy in Mile High Denver as they beat Baltimore 28-14.

AFC Championship Broncos vs Patriots: Peyton Manning gets the better of Tom Brady and leaves New England fans heart broken as Denver wins it at Mile High by a score of 24-21.

Falcons vs Seahawks: In an absolute shocker, I have the Seahawks upsetting the Dirty Birds as Russell Wilson and Seattle find a way to keep Matt Ryan and Atlanta at bay winning 17-14.

Packers vs 49ers: The Colin Kaepernick show continues, with help from the defense and a solid rushing performance by Frank Gore, as San Fran sends Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers packing with a final score of 28-24.

NFC Championship 49ers vs Seahawks: In an NFC West battle for the ages I have the Seattle Seahawks pulling off another upset and catapulting themselves into their first super bowl appearance since 2006. The Seahawks recently walloped the 49ers back in week 16 42-13 and split the season series 1-1 with a 13-6 loss to San Fran in week 7. It could happen.

Super Bowl XLVII Broncos vs Seahawks: Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos win the franchises first Super Bowl since 1998 (The Denver Broncos had home-field advantage in 1998 also) as Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks heroics aren’t enough with Denver winning 31-21. Manning wins Super Bowl MVP.

Final Thoughts: I want to here from NFL fans and Pats fans on this one. Can the Patriots win their first Super Bowl since 2005? How do you see the playoffs panning out? Leave a comment below.

AL East Position Matchup: Catcher

Spring training is around the corner and it looks like all the rosters are pretty much set in the MLB. I will begin to evaluate how the Red Sox matchup against their four counterparts in the AL East in different positions.

First up will be catcher (remember this is primarily based on projected starters):

1. Matt Wieters, Baltimore
2. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
3. Russell Martin, Yankees
4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
5. Jose Molina, Rays

Wieters was a no brainer here in the first slot. He was a can’t miss prospect since he was drafted 5th overall in 2007. He is not the superstar people once believed after a monster first year in the minors (.388 BA), but he provides decent pop (22 HR’s last year) and won a Gold Glove last year.

The next three were tough to call. I went with Arencibia next after his breakout campaign last year. He provided a bad batting average, but hit 23 Hr’s and had 78 RBI’s in 129 games in his rookie season. Arencibia is still a pretty raw talent, but with his good arm behind the plate and incredible power, he should have a pretty decent career. Third on the list is Russell Martin, who is not the player he was in the beginning of his career with the Dodgers. He has battled through knee and hip injuries since he broke out as a youngster in ’06-’08. He has had a declining batting average since ’08, although he saw in increase in HR and RBI’s for the Bronx Bombers last year. Even though Martin says he is healthy this year, I find it hard to believe he is a better option than Arencibia.

The Red Sox and Saltalamacchia are rated fourth due to the muddled cloud over the position and also an attempt to not be biased in this column. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the clear number one on the roster right now, although I think Ryan Lavarnway is the better long term solution. The Red Sox also signed Kelly Shoppach over the offseason, which confused me in terms of Lavarnway’s spot on the team. First off, Salty had a huge year for the Red Sox last year. He was a low risk young guy who had an incredible amount of confidence issues (to the point of him struggling to complete throws back to the pitcher). It looked like he found the stroke and confidence that he had as a good prospect growing up in the Braves farm system. Salty and Varitek combined to be some of the worst at throwing out runners last year (25.1% and 23.1%, respectively), and Shoppach should provide some defensive help. The true value of the Sox catcher situation lies in how they deal with Lavarnway. Lavarnway is a 6-4, 225 prospect with a very solid baseball IQ, which is very important behind the plate. The Yale-alum has average catching skills, but has a solid bat and could even provide some help from the DH spot. Sox fans immediately fell in love with Lavarnway when he provided 2 HR and 4RBI’s in a must win game on the second to last game of the season last year in which the Sox won 8-7. This was real impressive in such a high pressure situation in his rookie year and hopefully he will get a chance to build on his progress throughout this season. Also, as an end to the Red Sox section, I see Jason Varitek’s roster spot on the Red Sox gone. I hope they treat him in a similar manner as the Patriots with Kevin Faulk, by keeping him in the organization as a leader but not taking up a valuable roster spot with his declining abilities.

Lastly, the Rays are clearly the bottom of the pile here. I see them making some changes either in the season or during these last few weeks before camp. Right now they have 36 year old Jose Molina slotted behind the plate and he has never even had more than 268 AB’s in a season. Most Sox fans remember him from his days as a Yankees backup. He provides some help defensively (threw out 32.4% of runners), but it is always a good sign for opposing pitchers when he is in the on deck circle.

Stay tuned for more position evaluations throughout the next few weeks.