Thursday, January 2, 2014

The NFL Postseason Slant for 2013-2014 - High Tides

Hello, 2014. Let's have some fun with the world of sports, shall we?

I won't lie, this season was FUN to watch. Three NFL playoff positions were decided in a fiery fashion, while the other teams that had qualified were fighting for seeding. Needless to say, it was a crazy Sunday had by all. Plus, with almost as many NFL personnel firings on Black Monday as Charlie Chaplin has had wives, the NFL regular season ended with a real bang.

There is also news coming about containing changes for teams not in contention for the playoffs. Before the ball dropped in Times Square Tuesday night, word got out that Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien will be taking the head coaching position with the Houston Texans. While those in Happy Valley are anything but happy, we could be seeing a crossover trend from college into the NFL. Why, you ask? You'll get an inkling of an idea when you see a few thoughts below. Plus, word just got out that Lovie Smith will be making a return to head coaching, this time as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Maybe with some new leadership, we could be seeing a huge shift in contention in the next year. Speaking of, shouldn't we be talking about the teams we'll be talking about for the next month?

This postseason should be tough for each and every team, regardless of what their records show. But THEY'RE NOT THE KIND OF GIRLS WHO GIVE UP JUUUUUST LIKE THAAAAAAT....



East Division - New England Patriots (12-4) - It's okay--you can say that you're absolutely tired of seeing these guys in this position year in and year out, but admit it: these guys are just too darned good. All controversies aside, Tom Brady continues his streak of clutch playmaking in the QB slot, while all receivers are adding to the mix--including the running backs! These guys are versatile, and they're pretty chipper in any kind of terrain. They'll be a threat as usual. [Side note: I have officially run out of things to say for this team in this particular Slant. That is all.]

North Division - Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) - This is fresh, to say the least. After a much needed Bye week, they stayed strong and fought hard against their divisional rivals (except for the Steelers, whom I'll briefly touch on later) to keep their hold onto the North title. The defense is as scary as ever, and Andy Dalton in the driver seat is making things look sharp and secure in the pocket. While their track record in the postseason hasn't been the cleanest in years' past, there is some spark in this squad to do whatever it takes.

South Division - Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Chuck Pagano's squad looks as strong as ever here. What was once a pool full of strong rookies post-Manning era is now a crew of scrappy fighters that have proved their worth on the gridiron. Each end has helped each other out in their victories--the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" philosophy that I love so dearly. While there is attention on many other teams in the AFC, these will be the silent killers that could knock off the titans of the conference. We can bet on this.

West Division - Denver Broncos (13-3) - When you have a guy like Peyton Manning having a career year like he is, there is no doubt that good fortune is going to come to this team. Receivers like Eric Decker are now hometown legends, and a consistent defense that can screw you up at a moment's notice will make you wish that your team was godawful. Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh, but with star power and strong momentum, they're bound to give anyone a hard time if their guard doesn't let up.

AFC Wild Card
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - They started the season 9-0. It's not like they dropped off the face of the planet. Once they clinched any kind of playoff spot, the coaching staffs started resting everybody. Whether that was a smart thing is yet to be determined. Then again, when you've had a lot of rough seasons before this, you can't be too careful. When you've got guys like Jamaal Charles in the mix, you have to be careful. Strong guys like him can actually help the bunch to succeed in the long run, no matter how strange the team looks to an outsider.
San Diego Chargers (9-7) - If you're looking for a team that was riding the good fortune train, it was these guys. After killing the Steelers' hopes and dreams by beating Kansas City in overtime, they have the fire to want to kick the snot out of any team that comes their way. They're hoping that their four-game win streak keeps the momentum going. Philip Rivers and company are capable of putting on a show, but are they experienced enough? With their backs to the corner? Oh yes.


East Division - Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - With a new coach in Chip Kelly, we're seeing a team giving the playoffs--wait for it--the 'ole college try. Oh ho ho ho ho ho I kill myself sometimes. At any rate, this team looks scary. They started out slow, but their speedy offense and strong defense are hard to keep up with now. If we're looking for a dark horse in the NFC, it could be these guys. Nick Foles (GOSH) and LeSean McCoy are going to be bringing some pressure to any oncoming defense. This should be fun.

North Division - Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) - The Aaron Rodgers debacle from earlier in the season made one thing disgustingly evident: he is the captain of the team and can make magic happen when it is needed most. Sure, there are other guys on offense that exist like Eddie Lacy, to name one, but seeing him back really brought the fire in the team. It was something that the defense needed, as they might not be as strong as they were in their previous Super Bowl run. Are they rested up for their next test? We can only hope.

South Division - Carolina Panthers (12-4) - This was a long time coming since the beginning of the Cam Newton era. You're going to see one of the strongest defenses all-around in the NFC, and their running game on the other end of the ball will certainly make you pay. They almost remind me of the Falcons during the Mike Vick era, to be frank. These guys have surprised a lot of pools over the past year, but will inexperience hurt these guys this weekend? One could hope not, but it's entirely possible right now.

West Division - Seattle Seahawks (13-3) - Seeing the 'Hawks here is no big shock, as these guys have looked fantastic in every aspect this year. When you have a defense that practically shuts down every great offensive force thrown your way, the opposition feels pretty screwed after a while. Russell Wilson is also coming into his own as a great leader, and Marshawn Lynch is doing his epic running work as usual. They're fun to watch, and I'd definitely like to see them in the Super Bowl this year.

NFC Wild Card
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Who dat? Oh yeah, these guys. When you have a strong offense led by Drew Brees, you can't help that. The return of Sean Payton has also given new life to the squad, as it seems like bygones are officially bygones. While they have been to the big dance, we're looking at a dome team playing in the wintertime. Here's to hoping that the strong defense keeps steady and compliments the atmosphere of the postseason. They could totally bring it. They just need to work together.
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - These guys can kill you on the run each and every time, and it shows. A year removed from their Super Bowl appearance, their approach has changed slightly when it comes to offense, especially in the passing game. On the other hand, their defense looks about the same, as the personnel is stopping the run and keeping the games as close as possible. Admittedly, they were a novelty last year with the emergence of Colin Kaepernick. They're going to need more than novelty to succeed this time around.

And just like that, another NFL season has come and gone. Like I said above, this has been one heck of a year, and I enjoyed covering it again. While I did incredibly poor in my fantasy league this year (I was 4-10. Pukage.) things were extremely exciting and kept me going.

Just like in years' past, Andrew and I will be posting our NFL postseason predictions on Tumblr page, which is at We're doing things a little differently this year; I'll be handling the NFC matches, while he'll tackle the AFC. When it comes to the Conference championships and the Super Bowl, we'll go head-to-head, or something like that.

At any rate, let's see some flying bodies!