Here is my Slant for the 2012 NFL Playoffs.
(Just note here...I almost typed 2011)
Contender ready? Gladiator ready?
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
AFC East: New England Patriots (13-3) - No shock here. Tom Brady had a fantastic season and with receivers like Wes Welker in tow, they've only had a few slip-ups on their way to the playoffs. Hopefully there won't be any upsets involving them will occur a la their game against the Jets last year. Thankfully, the choking Jets aren't even involved this year. Coast is clear for these boys. On the other hand, my main concern is the defense. Work on that, and they can work on their championship parade.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens (12-4) - Oh my, 8-0 at home. It can't get any better than that when it comes to a team with a ferocious defense. I'm not a big fan of Joe Flacco, but he definitely brings it when it's absolutely necessary. The home field advantage is going to be a huge tool for these guys in the playoffs, and that defense...I can't stop talking about them. None of that The Blind Side stuff, of course.
AFC South: Houston Texans (10-6) - Welcome to the show, boys. Every time I think of one of the Texas teams in the playoffs, I think of Hank Hill saying, "An all-Texas Super Bowl...His Will be done." Although that's not the case, it's been an exciting season for these guys. Their defense has been downright nasty, and Arian Foster has been an absolute freight train along with Matt Schaub in the QB pocket. I don't expect the playoff jitters on this squad, but they might have problems if their minds aren't ready for the playoff atmosphere.
AFC West: Denver Broncos (8-8) - Oh, it looks like I was wrong. It seems that Tebow did something to the team that they just happen to win a lot during the fourth quarter. I never said it was a bad thing, it just happens too much. They need to play all four quarters if they actually want to make it past the Wild Card round this postseason.
AFC Wild Card Teams:
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Ben's offensive line is going to be the deciding factor in the coming days. After his high ankle sprain, the line has not been able to give him coverage; then again, they haven't been good with that all year. They've been here before, so there are no jitters here, but the stakes are high, and I don't know if they're up to the occasion.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) - Wow, look at the AFC North-dominated Conference play here. Andy Dalton has been a godsend for this team. While there isn't anything outstanding about the team as a whole, there are several spark plugs throughout the team that can really make things happen. However, I don't really see them coming out of the first round alive.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
NFC East: New York Giants (9-7) - Although they haven't had the strongest of showings as in years past, their defensive line has found their orient in Jason Pierre-Paul among others in the G-Men's line. They should have nice bursts of fun stuff, but they don't look like Super Bowl contenders...yet.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers (15-1) - THIS is what a returning Super Bowl Champion team should look like. Aaron Rodgers is having the best season of his career (then again, how long has he really played? Thanks Favre) and the defense is coming into their own. It would not surprise me if they return to the big dance again. What else can I say? Their play should reflect everything.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints (13-3) - After a season for the ages for Drew Brees, it's been mostly an all-offensive blast from these guys. The defense will have their bursts as well, but when they nap, it's heavy pressure on Brees and company to make sure the passing game is effective. You might see something spectacular unless if they do a Seahawks-sized choke like last year. Trust me.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers (13-3) - Oh look at this. After the numerous issues the team has had in years past, you'd never think you'd see these guys here anytime soon. In my honest opinion, this is the defense to beat--they've had the best defensive showing among NFC teams this season.
NFC Wild Card Teams:
Detroit Lions (10-6) - Here's another team that has had quite the turnaround this season. Matt Stafford was just what the Lions doctors ordered, as he's delivered a massive offensive sigh of relief for the team. The defense has also been a force to be reckoned with and could be a massive sacking squad if the opposing offensive line looks like a sponge.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) - This is another team that has flourished on the offensive end as Matt Ryan is being the believable quarterback that he is. These guys have the capability to absolutely shock you when you don't expect it. I don't exactly expect them to make it all that far, but watching them shouldn't be taken lightly.
What a year. These next six weeks should be incredibly exciting. I'm not counting the Pro Bowl...that means absolutely nothing, am I right or am I right?
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