A little while ago, I released my division predictions for 2014. That piece can be read here.
Based off of that, here is what I am predicting the playoffs will look in 2014:
1-New England Patriots (13-3)
2- Denver Broncos (11-5)
3- Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
4- Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
5- Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
6- Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
1- Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
2- New Orleans Saints (12-4)
3- Green Bay Packers (10-6)
4- Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
5- San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
6- Carolina Panthers (9-7)
AFC Champion: Patriots
NFC Champion: Seahawks
NFL MVP: Peyton Manning
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Brandin Cooks
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Jadeveon Clowney
Now, onto my reasoning behind my AFC, and NFC champions, and of course, my Super Bowl pick.
In the AFC, it is going to come down to the Broncos, and the Patriots. There is no getting around that. Those two are easily the best teams in the AFC, and it’s not even close. Now, when I look at these two squads head-to-head, it becomes a matter of defense, and who has the better unit. I may be biased, but I truly think New England will have the better defense, and not by a slim margin either. Their secondary across the board is better, their linebacker group is far better, and I would even give their front four a slight edge, even though Denver has DeMarcus Ware, and Von Miller on their side.
Offensively, the Broncos definitely have the edge along the offensive line, but after that, it’s honestly a toss-up. However the key factor here is Rob Gronkowski, because if he is healthy, the Patriots have the better offense. This rematch will be a great game, but I ultimately see the Pats coming out victorious.
As for the NFC, I just don’t see any team that has made enough improvements to dethrone Seattle. The Saints are a well-balanced squad, but I don’t have enough faith in them to go up to Seattle in January and get a win. The Niners will be competitive once again, but their defense is falling apart, and Colin Kaepernick is not ready to lead San Francisco into the Super Bowl all by himself.
I am not a huge fan of what the Seahawks did this offseason, but they still have a ferocious defense, they have a good running game, and a healthy (for now) Percy Harvin.
Super Bowl Prediction
So, here we go. Patriots versus Seahawks. Winner is the champion of the world (insert Kevin Garnett). It is hard not to be biased here, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
Offensively, the Patriots are clearly the better unit. They have the better quarterback, the better receiving corps, and possibly a better stable of running backs. The key would be if the offensive line could keep Seattle’s pass rush off of Brady. If Nate Solder and company did that, Brady would have no problem finding mismatches (hello, Gronkowski) against the Seahawks’ defense.
I know everybody thinks Richard Sherman’s group is perfect, but this Patriots offense has the necessary tools to beat them. Seattle isn’t that great in defending the pass between the hash-marks, which is where Tom Brady and company excel.
On the other side of the ball, the Pats’ have enough talented in the back end to easily shut down Russell Wilson‘ mediocre passing game. The question would be if their front seven would hold up against the powerful Seattle running game. That is the one area where I think Seattle will have an advantage. The Patriots defensive line is solid, but they don’t have enough talent to completely neutralize Marshawn Lynch and company.
When it comes down to deciding a champion, the Patriots receiving corps, Rob Gronkowski, Darrelle Revis, and Tom Brady will be enough to get them the win. In big games like this, the quarterback is always a huge factor, and I am taking the greatest postseason quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady, over Russell Wilson every single time.
Patriots 27 Seahawks 21