I don't know about you, but I think that statement alone explains the entire NFL season. Between bountygate, replacement refs, awkward suspensions, and more firings than in the 'hood, this was the craziest season of American Football yet.
In what I like to call "The Year of the Rookie," we have a lot of new faces in charge of these playoff teams, and that's an absolute breath of fresh air for the league. It's almost as if the game is evolving right before our eyes; we have some future legends in these packs and it's going to be a fun playoff run for many of these guys. But--will the returning veterans spank them with the big hands of experience? We're just going to have to find out this month.
Ladies and gentlemen...your 2013 NFL Postseason Slant, brought to you by AnimaniacZero.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
East Division - New England Patriots (12-4) - In the three years that I've done this (Wow, three already? Geez.) this is the third time I've had to write about these guys in this slot for the NFL playoffs. Simply put, they're doing what they do best. In fact, in the third time that I'm writing this, they're actually more well-rounded this year than in years past. I understand that statistics alone won't mean they're a shoo-in for the Super Bowl, but they're always an excellent threat on offense. If they play another offensive powerhouse at any point during this postseason, it's going to be a heck of a match.
North Division - Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - While they haven't exactly had the smoothest of seasons, they still had what it took to hold their ground in the division and keep the top spot. I never thought I'd say this, but Joe Flacco does get better with each passing year (see what I did there) and is coming into his own as a threat. However, the secondary needs a dose of confidence and health in the playoffs, or they're gonna have a bad time. Hopefully their lack of a decent second half of the season won't be a factor in their first playoff game.
South Division - Houston Texans (12-4) - Although they've looked rather sleepy over the past month, this may have just been a ruse to keep from burning out too quickly. Hopefully it doesn't cause them to not wake up during the fourth quarter of their next game. They've won the games that matter most, and Matt Schaub and Arian Foster have been doing their jobs thus far. The defense will need to stay tough in an offensive-heavy conference. All they need to do is play simple, textbook football with no jitters this time around and we could possibly see them at the big dance.
West Division - Denver Broncos (13-3) - Somewhere, John Elway is doing a happy dance in front of a mirror in his underwear. Sorry for the imagery. With that said, these guys look like the Broncos of the late-90's, with comeback
AFC Wild Card
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) - How do you like that? Since their bye week they had went 6-3 and made excellent showings as well. However, they need to keep fresh and healthy if they want to make it out of the first round. The defense is strong enough, but is Andy Dalton trusting enough in his squad? Do they even trust him enough? We'll find out this weekend.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Aww yaaaaaaaay. After [literally] the season from hell last year, they've shown that there is a lot of promise in this team. Their first round pick in Andrew Luck has been a blessing in disguise for them, and the fire and grit of returning Chuck Pagano should garner enough momentum for the team the world over. It'd be nice to see these guys show their true colors. They deserve it.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
East Division - Washington Redskins (10-6) - Wait for it... Aww yaaaaaaay! Here's another team that has been in the mud the past few years, and with the addition of new faces, we have a playoff contender! Things looked pretty bleak for these dudes during my Midseason Slant, but after winning seven straight to end the season, holy cow we've got something to watch here. Although RG3 is still somewhat nursing his knee, we're going to see some more bags of tricks coming from these guys. I won't lie, I'm excited for this one.
North Division - Green Bay Packers (11-5) - Although the fire of the past couple of years isn't exactly as bright as it once was, that shouldn't be an entirely big deal here. The playoffs are a totally different monster, and these guys have been here before. Let's just hope that the shaky offensive line can hold up for Aaron Rodgers. Some of their games have looked like clinics, but others looked a bit ugly. The Packs have the capability to make it out alive, but they just need to regain that mojo that has made them so legendary over the past several years.
South Division - Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Nice. They have to bring it this year. They've been here many times over the past several years, and after choking and coming up empty-handed, both sides of the ball look absolutely hungry. While the pass offense is the biggest strength of this team, the Falcons will have to work as a massive team unit in order to make it to the big game. They've come up short a bit too often and they need to get back to a lofty spot in the NFL. Hopefully the home-field advantage will work the wonders that are needed.
West Division - San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - I had to bold the one...that just looks awkward there. Anyway, this team's offense looks a lot less shaky than it did last year. With a more-confident Alex Smith and an impressive first showing of Colin Kaepernick, there may actually be hope in this team. The defense...well you should already know that they're awesome. Plus, you have Dave Akers. You just don't mess with that foot. Anyway, they're obviously going to be a defensive threat, and if the force is strong with Frank Gore in RB, we'll see some fun stuff from the Niners this postseason.
NFC Wild Card
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - After a moderate second half, they're riding the momentum of upset. After doing slightly better in the NFC North than the Chicago Bears, we're going to see some underrated talent [Not including Adrian Peterson--he's just legendary] on the offense and the strengthening defense. Although people think that Christian Ponder is not the best QB in the world, he's not as bad as everyone makes him out to be. Regardless, his lead in the pocket will be the deciding factor.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) - Yes and yes. These guys have one of the most underrated offenses and one of the best defenses in place. We've seen their powers of shocking the opposition in the past, and just like before, they should not be counted out in the least bit. Marshawn Lynch will definitely be the man to watch on offense, as he has the capability to burn through the best of defenses. Hopefully the first time jitters for some of the men on this squad won't take place. They have the talent--let's see it at work.
That about does it for me. It was a heck of an NFL season filled with hair-pulling and twists. If you want to know my predictions (as well as Andrew's) on the upcoming playoff games, check us out on sportsnutblogs.tumblr.com and see what we think. Our predictions will be posted sometime this weekend (preferably Saturday night) so check it out!
For the ones who have followed me since the very beginning, thanks for reading along after all this time. Like I said earlier, this is the third time I've done this, and I've only followed the NFL closely as long as that. I feel like I'm gaining more knowledge about the league and the players each and every time I do this. It feels pretty good. Thanks for your patience and all. ;-)