Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
For the past nine days, we’ve been revealing our picks for the NFL season. Now, with the season set to kickoff tomorrow when the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks do battle, we are prepared to unveil our picks for the playoffs, including the team we think will be crowned champion at the Super Bowl in Arizona.
AFC Playoff Teams:
Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
Indianapolis Colts 11-5
Denver Broncos 11-5
New England Patriots 10-6
Houston Texans 10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
We have the Bengals finishing atop the AFC, winning the head-to-head matchup tiebreaker over both the Colts and Broncos. The Texans grab our first wild card spot, riding a new head coach and some new talent on the defensive side of the ball to the postseason, and the Steelers’ offense leads them to the other spot.
NFC Playoff Teams:
New Orleans Saints 12-4
Seattle Seahawks 12-4
Green Bay Packers 11-5
Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
San Francisco 49’ers 10-6
Chicago Bears 9-7
Yes Bears fans, we do have the team finishing in the playoffs. They end up in a tie with the Arizona Cardinals at 9-7 for the season, but they win a tiebreaker, with a better win percentage against common opponents. The Saints grab the top seed in the NFC thanks to a better conference record than the Seahawks.
Wild Card Round:
Denver Beats Pittsburgh, New England Beats Houston
Chicago Beats Green Bay, San Francisco Beats Philadelphia
We only went with one upset in the first round of the postseason, with the Bears stunning the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Eagles would put up a huge fight against the Niners in the City of Brotherly Love, but ultimately the healthy (and hopefully suspension-free) 49’ers would take down that game.
Cincinnati Beats New England, Indianapolis Beats Denver
New Orleans Beats Chicago, Seattle Beats San Francisco
The Bears’ storybook run comes to an end as the Saints take full advantage of the Superdome and beat them with an offensive explosion. Last year’s AFC champions also take a hike as the Broncos fall to the well-rested Colts, and the Seahawks continue the 49’ers misery by knocking them out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
Indianapolis Beats Cincinnati, Seattle Beats New Orleans
In a battle of unfamiliar faces in the AFC title game, Andrew Luck and the Colts end up taking down Andy Dalton and the Bengals. The Seahawks also shock the football world by going into a hostile New Orleans environment and derailing Drew Brees’ shot at another Super Bowl ring.
Super Bowl XLIX:
Seattle Beats Indianapolis
It isn’t the most original of thoughts to say that the Seahawks will repeat as champions, but it’s tough to bet against them. Their defense is still totally loaded, their offense could be even better if Christine Michael emerges as a serious complement to Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, and their coach is still Pete Carroll. This is a team that is poised to become the first team since the New England Patriots to repeat as champions, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were to accomplish that feat.