By Steve Silverman
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The 2013 season belongs to the Seahawks. When the NFL season ends in MetLife Stadium in the snows of February, Pete Carroll’s Seahawks will survive the marathon that is the NFL. While they have an active and relentless defense, it’s the quickness, courage and creativity that will give this franchise its first Super Bowl title.
AFC Wild Card
BENGALS 37, Ravens 24 – Marvin Lewis finally gets his first playoff win as quarterback Andy Dalton throws three TD passes and nasty defensive tackle Geno Atkins flattens Joe Flacco in the second half.
Colts 23, BRONCOS 17 (OT) – The matchup between Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning will dominate the Wild Card week hype, and with good reason. Manning wants to show his old team that it waswrong, but it’s Luck who will throw the game-winning TD pass late in the first overtime to help the Colts advance.
NFC Wild Card
GIANTS 33, Saints 14 – The Giants will win the NFC East and get back to the playoffs as the third seed. The Saints will offer an explosive offense, but Sean Payton’s team does not travel well to cold-weather cities. The Giants will unleash their running game and Eli Manning will close the Saints down.
49ers 28, PACKERS 17 – The Packers simply don’t match up well with the Niners. They learned that in last year’s postseason and they will relearn it in Week 1. The Packers simply don’t have the speed on defense to control Colin Kaepernick, and Aaron Rodgers can’t do it by himself.
AFC Divisional Playoffs
PATRIOTS 30, Colts 20 – The Colts will not get overwhelmed by their visit to New England, but they simply don’t have enough to stop the Pats in this game. Luck will throw at least two second-half interceptions and Bill Belichick will lead New England to another AFC Championship Game appearance.
Bengals 28, TEXANS 27 – This game is all about the rise of Cincinnati pitch-and-catch combination Dalton and A.J. Green. The Texans have the kind of defense that can stop lesser teams, but first-rate talent gives them a problem. Matt Schaub is a good-but-not-great quarterback who will fall just a few yards short of advancing.
NFC Divisional Playoffs
SEAHAWKS 37, 49ers 21 – Much of the talk prior to this game will be of the dreaded third matchup of the season between these two hated rivals. (Carroll and Jim Harbaugh can’t stand each other.) The Seahawks will complete their season sweep of the Niners because Russell Wilson will pick them apart in the first half and take them out of the game in the second half. Shocking because it won’t be close.
Giants 23, FALCONS 21 – More of the same for the Falcons, who simply can’t win playoff games. They will play well and push the Giants to the limit, but Josh Brown will hit a 45-yard field goal at the gun and Tom Coughlin’s team will advance to the NFC Championship Game.
AFC Championship Game
Bengals 27, PATRIOTS 20 – Once again the Patriots will find themselves in the favorite’s role in the AFC Title Game, and this time the Bengals will kick the door down and find a way to defeat Tom Brady & Co. In the end, the Bengals’ defense will make one late stand as linebacker James Harrison forces a fumble and the Bengals advance to the Super Bowl.
NFC Championship Game
SEAHAWKS 28, Giants 24 – The Giants have made a habit of going out to the West Coast and winning NFC Championship Games, so they will be quite confident and will have a lot of support before the game. But the Seahawks have the best home-field advantage in the league, and the overpowering defense will slow down Manning in the fourth quarter. Wilson will lead a late drive and throw a game-winning touchdown pass to Percy Harvin in the final seconds, preventing a Giants homecoming for the Super Bowl.
Seahawks 16, Bengals 7 – The final score may look familiar to Jets fans, who remember the famous upset in Super Bowl III. The Seahawks will negotiate the snowy terrain better than the Bengals, and they won’t give Cincinnati anything until the final 30 seconds of the game. The Seahawks score two touchdowns (one of them on an interception return by Richard Sherman) and a safety to win their first Vince Lombardi Trophy at MetLife.
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