1. New England Patriots
The AFC is a tough conference to predict. Every team has their holes and concerns. That is why I’m going with the Patriots as the No.1 seed going into the postseason; they are the safest pick. They have a good young defense and they can run the football. Oh yeah, they also have Tom Brady. New England is the model of consistency in the NFL.
2. Denver Broncos
Yes, Von Miller is a big part of the Broncos defense, but they’ll be able to muster up a good record without him. After all, the Broncos have Peyton Manning under center. Their offense is more than good enough to hold up the team. This team is going to be fine, in fact, they’ll probably be better than fine.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Everybody wants to know if the Bengals are for real. Trust me, they are not to be overlooked. If Joe Flacco can win a Super Bowl, so can Andy Dalton. The Bengals have a stout defense, and an offense that keeps getting better.
4. Houston Texans
I can’t see the Texans going to the next level. I don’t see Matt Schaub taking a team to a Super Bowl. Although, this year could be better than any for Houston to sneak into the Super Bowl. Every possible playoff team in the AFC has its concerns, but honestly the Texans may have the least of all teams. Maybe just maybe, Houston fans will finally see their team in the big game.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
There’s way too much talent on the Steelers roster in order for them to miss the playoffs again. Ben Roethlisberger will put up career numbers, and so will a couple of the Steelers receivers. Their defense will be rock solid as usual. You have to wonder if changes will come to the coaching staff, if the Steelers end up on the outside looking in again.
6. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have the potential to be better in 2013 than they were in 2012. I don’t think a lot of turnover on the defensive side of the ball will hurt this team that much. Nonetheless, I still believe they’re the third most talented team in the AFC North.
AFC Championship Game:
Bengals Def. Patriots 28-24
1. Seattle Seahawks
I fell in love with this team in the playoffs last season. The Seahawks are the most talented team in the NFL. I can’t imagine Russell Wilson going through a sophomore slump; he has too many weapons. The Seahawks have the best secondary in the league. And this team is extremely young. Seattle is going to be fun to watch for a long time to come.
2. Green Bay Packers
The Packers are slowly becoming the Patriots of the NFC. You have to expect this team to do well. The Packers are led by a great coach and quarterback. Their defense has improved as well.
3. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are going to be a contender again this season. Ultimately, the biggest question the Falcons face: Can they go to the next step and win a Super Bowl? The Falcons have the high powered offense, but their defense can not be relied on in big games.
The NFC East is as wide open as usual. I’d like to believe the Giants are the safest pick in the East. And don’t be surprised if this team goes deep in the playoffs. The Giants offense is going to be very good this season.
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers may slip up a bit this season. Colin Kaepernick has only one reliable wideout going into this season. I think we could see Kaepernick not be as effective in 2013. But don’t think for a second this team is going to be a compete flop. Kaepernick is still going to be very dynamic.
I think Marc Trestman will do wonders to this Bears offense. I think Jay Cutler could be in for a career year. And the defense will be as reliable as ever.
NFC Championship Game:
Seahawks vs. Packers
Seahawks Def. Packers 38-30
Seahawks Def. Bengals 31-20