2013 NFL Midseason Report: Playoff and Super Bowl Predictions

NFL Midseason AFC & NFC Playoff Picks

In Part 2 of our 2013 NFL Midseason Report, we’re bringing you the current NFL playoff standings, outlooks for the major contenders, and how we think each race will shake out in the end.

Will your favorite team stay in the hunt or fall out of contention? Here’s how SidelineMOB sees it.

NFL midseason report: AFC playoff chase

The Chiefs own the AFC's #1 seed now...

The Chiefs own the AFC’s #1 seed now… (Credit Opertinicy)

If the season ended today…

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
  2. New England Patriots (7-2)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)
  5. Denver Broncos (7-1)
  6. New York Jets (5-4)

In the playoff hunt:

Outlook:

The top 5 AFC teams in the current standings all seem like virtual playoff locks at this point, unless the Bengals somehow slip down at the hands of the Ravens or (dare we say it) Cleveland Browns. The sixth AFC playoff spot is up for grabs, and is currently held by the Jets, who have alternated wins and losses all year. This would suggest the Jets are an 8-8 team – the question, then, becomes simple: is 8-8 good enough to reach the AFC playoffs?

In 2013, it might just be. We think, however, that 9-7 is the mark to sneak in to the #6 spot, and despite all the turmoil in Miami, we project the Dolphins to hit 9-7 and get in. The Chargers are probably the best team in the running for the 6-seed, but asking San Diego to go 5-3 over an 8-game span than includes 4 games against Denver and Kansas City and one against the Bengals is asking too much.

Whoever wins the AFC West will likely grab the #1 seed, and we ultimately think that will be the Denver Broncos. KC slips to the hard-luck 5th seed and faces a tough road test, likely against either Cincinnati or New England. We think the Colts will reach 12 wins and secure the AFC’s #2 seed.

...but Denver will grab it by season's end.

…but Denver will grab it by season’s end. (Credit Opertinicy)

Projected Final AFC Playoff Standings:

  1. Denver Broncos (14-2)
  2. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
  4. New England Patriots (11-5)
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  6. Miami Dolphins (9-7)

Outside Looking In:

  • New York Jets (8-8)
  • Tennessee Titans (8-8)

NFL midseason report: NFC playoff chase

Seattle seems locked in as the NFC's #1 seed...

Seattle seems locked in as the NFC’s #1 seed… (Credit NostalgiaBuff97501)

If the season ended today…

  1. Seattle Seahawks (8-1)
  2. New Orleans Saints (7-2)
  3. Detroit Lions (5-3)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
  6. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

In the hunt…

Outlook:

The NFC North will shape the playoff race in the NFC. If one team can pull away and dominate the others, it may leave the #6 seed open for the Panthers or Eagles to swoop in and snag it. Even if the Packers, Lions and Bears all surge to the finish, it will take an epic collapse by the 49ers and Seahawks for all of them to make it – and that just won’t happen.

So out of the Lions, Packers and Bears, who is most likely to be left out? We’re going with the streaky Bears, whose defense has abandoned them of late. We think the Lions will surge with a 6-2 finish to win the NFC North at 11-5, while the Packers will also hit 11-5 and take the NFC’s 6th seed (by virtue of a tiebreaker to Detroit).

This means the hard-luck losers of the NFC in 2013 will likely be the Carolina Panthers, who we project to finish at 10-6 and just outside the playoffs – while the Cowboys, by virtue of winning the weak NFC East, take the #4 seed at 9-7.

...and we think the Lions will join them.

…and we think the Lions will win the NFC North. (Credit SixFourThree)

Projected Final NFC Playoff Standings:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
  2. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
  3. Detroit Lions (11-5)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
  6. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

Outside Looking In:

  • Carolina Panthers (10-6)

NFL midseason report: 2013 NFL playoff projections

Wild Card Round:

AFC: Bengals (3) over Dolphins (6), Patriots (4) over Chiefs (5)

The Bengals avenge a regular season OT loss while New England wins an incredibly tough game in large part due to home-field advantage.

NFC: 49ers (5) over Cowboys (4), Packers (6) over Lions (3)

The 49ers overmatch the Cowboys on the road, while Detroit is stymied by a less injury-riddled Packers corps in the playoffs.

Divisional Round:

AFC: Broncos (1) over Patriots (4), Bengals (3) over Colts (2)

Peyton and Welker get over the hump – barely – vs. Brady and Gronk in Denver, while Cincy’s A.J. Green explodes and helps the Bengals spring the mild road upset.

NFC: Seahawks (1) over Packers (6), Saints (2) over 49ers (5)

Seattle’s 12th Man is too much for even Aaron Rodgers, while the Saints do just enough on both sides of the ball and force a late Colin Kaepernick INT to win in New Orleans.

AFC/NFC Championship:

AFC: Broncos (1) over Bengals (3)

The upstart Bengals prevent the Colts/Broncos matchup so many were hoping for by ousting Indy at Lucas Oil Stadium (call it karma for Jim Irsay, perhaps). Cincy puts forth a game effort, but with Peyton’s playoff ghosts being exorcised the week before in a win over Tom Brady and the Pats, Denver prevails.

NFC: Saints (2) over Seahawks (1)

Yes, we think the Seahawks will finally lose one at home to New Orleans. When the chips are down, we can’t bet against Sean Payton, Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham in an NFC Championship Game. As strong as Russell Wilson is, he’s never been on this stage before.

Super Bowl XLVIII:

Denver Broncos over New Orleans Saints

Make no mistake – it will be a largely pro-Denver crowd at MetLife Stadium, as many New York-area fans adopt Peyton Manning as their own by familial association. Good as the Saints are, they’re ultimately a dome team, and the cold weather of a February Super Bowl in New Jersey favors the versatile offense of the Denver Broncos, as Peyton hoists his second Vince Lombardi Trophy.

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