2013 NFL Playoff Predictions

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My pre-season picks are here.

Coming into the year, my overarching view of the NFL was that Seattle/San Francisco/Denver and New England were the 4 best teams, with Denver and Seattle going to advance to the Super Bowl based on their earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  A team I particularly liked as a dark horse was Cincinnati, I had them as a double digit division winner.

That gets us to this year (with the "any given sunday" caveat)

San Diego at Cincinnati
Kansas City at Indianapolis

The Chargers shouldn't beat the Bengals; Cincinnati's got the advantage in all of the key metrics that you'd look for to compare teams; there isn't a basis to pick a road upset here.  Bengals win outright.  They're giving 7, which, if I had to pick a side, would be too much, so I'd pick the Chargers +7.

In the other game, the Chiefs have a significantly higher DVOA/weighted DVOA than do the Colts; the Colts have the better GWP than the Chiefs (but it's close) and Kansas City's SRS is a little better than is Indianapolis.  When you add in the home field advantage it's reasonable to pick either side - I'm taking Kansas City +2.5 and will go ahead and pick the Chiefs outright as well.

2-0 ATS, 0-2 straight up

That would mean

Kansas City at Denver
Cincinnati at New England

There's no reason not to pick Denver to advance, but I'd bet they'd rather see the Colts than a divisional opponent.  I am going to pick the Bengals to beat the Patriots; part of that is wishcasting, but here I'm relying on the solid GWP advantage the Bengals have.  Right now, you can get +650 on the Bengals to win the AFC, consider that as a play worth making.  The Chiefs have a non-zero chance to beat Denver, it's almost certain I'll suggest taking the points in that game - meaning, in this scenario, the AFC Championship would be in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati at Denver
The choice here is to go with the team I've had in this spot since pre-season, which has really done nothing to play its way out of that spot - or make a more fun Bengals pick.  It's probably a mistake to chase the Ravens from last year, to "see" either Kansas City or Cincinnati in that spot.  I'll pick Denver to come out of the AFC, there just isn't a really good reason not to, but were the Niners to be eliminated, I'd most like to see Kansas City or Cincinnati coming out of the AFC.

New Orleans at Philadelphia
San Francisco at Green Bay

Except for SRS, which has the Saints solidly better, the first game looks really close, with the New Orleans disinclination to perform away from home, magnified, perhaps, in weather conditions this weekend, as the deciding factor.  I have been angling to avoid a divisional round Seahawk/49er game for the past couple of months meaning I need a New Orleans win here - I've been back and forth, but in the end I just can't pick them.  I'll say the Eagles win, they're favored 2.5, I'll split my ticket and take those points and the Saints.

The Niners are significantly better than Green Bay; I don't love facing a presumably healthy Aaron Rodgers either, but it's hard to see a circumstance outside of whiteout blizzard where the Packers can stop San Francisco.  Take the Niners, give the 3.

1-0-1 ATS, 1-1 SU

That would mean

San Francisco at Seattle
Philadelphia at Carolina

I had this matchup all season long; the Niners are as close to where you'd like them to be as would be reasonable to hope throughout the season - but Seattle's the best team in football.  I think it's a game; we've been blown out in recent trips north, I don't think that's where we are now - but this has all the makings of a mid 90s Niner/Packer game and I think we're on the wrong side.  If we can get that Carolina matchup instead, it's not a guarantee but I'd take us.  Here, no. I think these are the two best teams; I'm going to take whomever comes out of this game to win the whole thing.  I think, if you're a Niner or Seahawk fan, you root for Denver on the other side, both because beating Peyton Manning will mean more and because there will be plenty of money on Denver, giving you an investment opportunity that doesn't exist with any other AFC team.

Panthers probably win.  Then they lose to Seattle.

Super Bowl 48
Seattle 28 Denver 20

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