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2013 NFL Predictions

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2013 NFL Predictions

Last season was the chalkiest since the NFL went to eight divisions in 2002, by a wide margin.  Every season since then, the league has averaged:

  • 6 new playoff teams (2012: 4)
  • 4.6 new division winners (2012: 2)
  • 3.36 new top seeds (2012: 2)
  • 2 previous top seeds miss the playoffs (2012: 0)

That’s including last year, which dragged down the averages noticeably.  The question is, therefore, will that stability largely hold or will the league revert back to the relative chaos of previous seasons? And what caused such a year in 2012? That’ll be the basis of these predictions.

The biggest factor, in my eyes, is the increased effect of a quarterback on a team’s fortunes.  While QB has always been the position with the most tangible impact, recent seasons have increasingly driven the point home that with a great quarterback, a team can win a Super Bowl, even without anywhere near a replacement-level running back or defense.  However, those teams also have a larger potential for massive regression when something goes wrong.

Meanwhile, a better-rounded team can get a QB who’s above average but not elite by any stretch and become very successful over the long haul: the Steelers and Giants both have two Super Bowls with this philosophy, and the defending champion Ravens utilized this to the fullest in 2012.  Hell, even Mark Sanchez was able to make two straight AFC title games with a solid D.  Yes, that actually happened.  Teams like the Saints and Packers are consistently good, but their fluctuations are much more difficult to predict.

Additionally, almost all of these better-rounded teams have clumped in one place: the NFC.  When I finished my full predictions for this year, I noticed that the worst record I had for an NFC team was 5-11.  On the other hand, I had a full six AFC teams winning five or fewer games.  I’m sure this will end up evening out over the course of the actual season, and my exact record predictions are really more of a fun exercise than serious picks…anyone who claims to be able to accurately forecast the results of over five hundred games before a down has been played is delusional at best.

So…one conference is distinctly superior.  QBs are dominant. And I haven’t even gotten to the mobile QB renaissance or the potential fates of the many young QBs that are set to take the league by storm.  That’s for the meat of the article, which is coming very soon.  Welcome to the NFL in 2013. Don’t hit your head on the threshold on your way in, football’s got a bit of a problem with that nowadays.

Are you ready for some football?

National Football Conference

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4; #1 seed)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5; #5 seed)
  3. St. Louis Rams (9-7)
  4. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints (11-5; #2 seed)
  2. Carolina Panthers (8-8)
  3. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)

NFC North

  1. Detroit Lions (10-6; #3 seed)
  2. Green Bay Packers (9-7)
  3. Chicago Bears (7-9)
  4. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6; #4 seed)
  2. New York Giants (10-6; #6 seed)
  3. Washington Redskins (8-8)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos (13-3; #1 seed, best record in NFL)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5; #5 seed)
  3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
  4. San Diego Chargers (2-14: #1 draft pick)

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans (12-4; #2 seed)
  2. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
  3. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)

AFC North

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4; #3 seed)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-10)
  4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (12-4; #4 seed)
  2. Buffalo Bills (9-7; #6 seed)
  3. Miami Dolphins (3-13)
  4. New York Jets (2-14)

Awards

  • Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Vick – QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Coach of the Year: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Star Lotulelei – DT, Carolina Panthers
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: E.J. Manuel – QB, Buffalo Bills
  • Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans
  • Offensive Player of the Year: Matthew Stafford – QB, Detroit Lions
  • NFL MVP: Peyton Manning – QB, Denver Broncos

Playoffs

Wild Card Round

NFC: (6) Giants over (3) Lions; (5) Seahawks over (4) Eagles

AFC: (3) Bengals over (6) Bills; (4) Patriots over (5) Chiefs

Divisional Round

NFC: (1) 49ers over (5) Seahawks; (2) Saints over (6) Giants

AFC: (1) Broncos over (4) Patriots; (3) Bengals over (2) Texans

Conference Championship

NFC: (1) 49ers over (2) Saints

AFC: (1) Broncos over (3) Bengals

 

Super Bowl XLVIII

The NFL, in their infinite wisdom, awarded the Super Bowl to an outdoor stadium likely to be in the middle of a blizzard come February 2013.  Once that comes around, the respective championship gameplans of the 49ers and Broncos are getting chucked out the window and we fans will be treated to a strange Super Bowl indeed.  The difference maker?  Their running games.  And when you compare the Broncos unimpressive RB Cerberus of Ball, Hillman and Moreno with the gritty Frank Gore and Kapernick’s legs, I think the 49ers pull out a snowbound Lombardi Trophy over flustered MVP Peyton Manning and Elway’s Broncos.

Is it chalky?  Yes, many “experts” have very similar picks.  However, that’s how I’m ultimately merging together the natural fluctuation of the NFL with the tendency for teams with very similar attributes – and top QBs – to win titles.  Coming into the playoffs, there should be a lot of strangeness and unexpected results.  However, in the playoffs…look for the favorites and high-level QBs to assert themselves, as they have in the past few seasons.

San Francisco 49ers over Denver Broncos

Super Bowl MVP: Colin Kaepernick – QB, 49ers

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