NFL playoffs: contenders, pretenders and return to senders

Chris Chard Columnist

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    The Carolina Panthers are favourites for Super Bowl 50. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Daniel Mears)

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    When the NFL season regular stops and the playoffs begin, the remaining teams are all moved back to square one and are presumed to have an equal chance of being crowned Super Bowl champions.

    It’s just that if the past few months are any guide, some will undoubtedly have a more equal chance than others.

    For while the post season may consist of twelve teams, in reality some of these sides are the proverbial third string quarterbacks and will soon be faking injuries to get out of the Pro Bowl.

    Hence, the teams can be grouped into the five following categories.

    The Tourists: Bengals, Colts, Vikings, Redskins
    The tourists are the teams who like the bloke on annual leave are ‘just happy to be there’, if only to break a long play-off drought and stop their lunatic fan element from burning effigies outside of the team headquarters on New Years Eve.

    The Contiki caravan includes the rookie quarterback led Colts and Redskins, as well as Minnesota, who thanks to running back Adrian Peterson rank as the biggest one-man band since Bon Jovi.

    Rounding out the wannabes is the Bengals. Despite making the playoffs last year, unfortunately for the Bengals, they are still the Bengals.

    Verdict: First week

    The Downhill flyers: Falcons, Texans
    The Texans and Falcons racked up enough Ws in 2012 to be more than competitive in a game of scrabble, however you just don’t know when they’re about to go all Tony Romo on you.

    Both teams were patchy in the final quarter of the season, ended on a bum note last week and look like they might have peaked a bit early.

    Verdict: Second week

    The flawed geniuses: Ravens, Packers
    In a game that takes a serious approach to protective equipment, the flawed geniuses have a telling chink in their armour.

    For the Ravens it’s the fact that their offensive team led by enigmatic quarterback Joe Flacco are just starting to learn their now offensive coordinators first name, having dumped their incumbent midway through the season.

    The Pac-men have the opposite problem, in that while they may score points like Brett Favre does endorsement deals, at times their defence is patchier than Aaron Rodgers occasional moustache.

    Verdict: Second week

    The mystery bags: Seahawks, Broncos
    The NFL is analysed more than the shroud of Turin. It should really hold very few secrets, yet the mystery bags have still got the punters guessing after all this time.

    While Peyton Manning at Mile High is as sure footed as a mountain goat, it’s probably a stretch to extend the compliment to his teammates, especially with the holes in their backfield.

    On the other end of the superstar spectrum there’s rookie Russell Wilson and the Seahawks who have scored 170 odd points in their last four games, which sounds impressive.

    But, considering whizz kid Wilson was picked in the draft after the one-legged fat bloke with glasses, one must think that sooner or later him and the Hawks are going to find themselves eating the astro.

    Verdict: Week 3

    The money men: Patriots, 49ers
    Are you the sort of person who only lays your money on the Melbourne Cup favourite? A big Man Utd, Federer and Tiger Woods fan? Then say hello to the money men.

    While they may have faulted at various times throughout the season, both New England and San Francisco have shown themselves to be the complete package against quality opposition.

    Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance for these sides will have them being heavily accosted by their super model spouses and making apologetic TV appearances.

    Verdict: Super Bowl bound

    As for the overall winner?

    Why, football of course.

    Follow Chris on Twitter @Vic_Arious

    Chris Chard
    Chris Chard

    Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • January 4th 2013 @ 7:59am
      Jason said | January 4th 2013 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      I reckon the Colts will give the Ravens and real run for their money in week 1, even with Ray Lewis back.

      Would set up a dream Colts v Broncos match in week 2 as well. And regardless of the winner of that match, it would be a dream Championship game with Pariots the following week.

      Seattle v Washington should be a cracker in week 1 as well.

      • Columnist

        January 4th 2013 @ 11:42am
        Chris Chard said | January 4th 2013 @ 11:42am | ! Report

        Hi Jason

        As a Ravens man it pains me to have to agree with you on the Colts match, could end up being a real shoot out.

        And as for the Seattle v Washington match….phwooooaaaaarrr

        All the best


    • January 4th 2013 @ 8:18am
      Kevin said | January 4th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Chris great piece!

      Love the bit about the bengals still being the bengals, so true..
      I think most of your predictions are pretty good but I am holding out for a ” why in the hell did we dump Alex smith” from the Niners fans sometime soon…
      Also fascinating will be if P Manning plays Big in the Big games, if there was ever a criticism of him at Indy, it was that he was a little dodgey in big games

      • Columnist

        January 4th 2013 @ 11:49am
        Chris Chard said | January 4th 2013 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Hi Kev

        The Col Kaepernick/Alex Smith must be the puzzle of the playoffs. Sure Kap brings them an extra dimension in their running game, but is it worth it for the loss in experience? Get it right and I think they can go all the way, get it wrong and the fans might just knock down Candlestick themselves ha ha



    • January 4th 2013 @ 8:40am
      B.A Sports said | January 4th 2013 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      The last two SuperBowl winners have had 9-7 seasons, but have been white out at the right time of year. Seattle have won thier last 5, Washington their last 7 and seem to be the ones most likely to make a similar run.

      Seattle v Green Bay would be a dream NFC title match up as it would tie off the whole debacle from week 3 which ultimatly saw the real ref’s return.

      I think the Broncos are bluffing. Their three losses this season are to Atlanta, the Pats and the Texans. The only play-off teams they have beaten are Cinici and Baltimore who are irratic at best. Cruising along all year against KC and Oakland, hardly a good form guide. Its like watching a group 1 horse running at Gosford on a Tuesday then trying to bet on it in the Melbourne Cup the following week

      The 49’ers are not as strong or consistent as they were last year and aren’t money to me.

      I think the only team the Pats truely fear in the AFC is Baltimore just because of their recent history.

      Pats, SeaHawks and GB are the most likely for me

      • January 4th 2013 @ 9:37am
        Jimbo said | January 4th 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        The Broncos haven’t lost since October, and that was to New England at home – one of the toughest gigs in the sport. On their winning streak, you can only beat what is in front of you. All of their losses came to good teams, early on in the season. Of course they are going to struggle early on with a new quarterback. You will also recall that they convincingly beat Baltimore at Baltimore just 3 weeks ago. If I were the Patriots, I would take Baltimore over Denver any day of the week – especially considering they will meet Baltimore at home, and Denver at Denver. Denver are also the only team with both a top 5 defence and offence – and that holds for both whether you use yards per game or points per game.

        The Seahawks are my smokie as well, their win over the 49ers the other week was hugely impressive, although it was tempered by the ineptitude of the 49ers. Their D really struggled without Justin Smith, and the offence was laughably inept. Like Fivehole, I do somewhat question the decision to bench Alex Smith, he doesn’t have the arm of Kaepernick, but he protects the ball. With a defence that (Seattle game notwithstanding) is usually very solid, that should be of primary concern (although perhaps that doesn’t apply considering Akers’ appalling kicking of late – and the decision to bring in Billy Cundiff will certainly have any Baltimore fan having a wry chuckle).

    • January 4th 2013 @ 9:09am
      Fivehole said | January 4th 2013 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Sorry Chris, can’t see the Niners reaching the SB. Did you see them play the rams / seahawks this season? Not sold on tatt boy at QB either, a little too mitchell johnson for me. Apart from that, you are pretty much spot on.

      Go Bengals!

      • Columnist

        January 4th 2013 @ 11:56am
        Chris Chard said | January 4th 2013 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        Hi Fivehole

        I have a good mate who is a big 49ers fan so trust me, I watch their defeats very closely ha ha!

        Personally I think they’ve got one of the better balanced teams, but as you’ve shown they can lose a game. Should be interesting.



    • January 4th 2013 @ 9:17am
      Chop said | January 4th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      IF RG III is healthy I think Washington can do some damage in the playoffs, unfortunately watching him against the Toyboys I don’t think that’s the case.

      I’m unconvinced about New England, unfortunately I don’t think my Packers have the D to win this year even with some defensive reinforcements arriving for this game.

      This weekend I think Cincinatti can upset Houston who’ve been diabolical of late, hoping Green Bay can beat Adrian Peterson, Baltimore motivated by Ray Lewis’s retirement will win in spite of Flacco, not because of him and Seattle/Washington is a coin toss.

    • Columnist

      January 4th 2013 @ 12:01pm
      Chris Chard said | January 4th 2013 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

      Hi Chop

      Yeah it’s a funny thing with the Pats, they haven’t seemed to hog the headlines as much as in previous seasons but that win against Houston a few weeks back just confirmed for me that they’re still the real deal.

      Throw in the fact that they’ve ‘been there, done that’ and now have a fit Gronk on board, and I have to give them my nod.

      Trust me though, more than happy to be wrong on this account!



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