2012 NFC Playoff Recap:
The Vikings and Packers made their way into the playoffs riding the coattails of a handful of amazing individual performances from Blair Walsh, 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers, but fell short against deeper competition. Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil, along with Casey Hayward all made strong cases for being future standout players at their positions moving forward as well. RG3 and Russell Wilson caught the outer glow of the spotlight after leading their teams into the playoffs as rookies, and not looking at all like rookies in the process. While Seattle’s secondary solidified itself as one of the elite units in the league both in trash talk and in play, the Redskins did exactly the same with their running game. The Falcons were a powerhouse again, showing an improved secondary with Pro Bowlers William Moore and Brent Grimes, and Julio Jones coming into his own as a bonafide star in the league, but came up one Matty Ice moment short of reaching the Super Bowl. The 49ers had an unlikely road to the title game headlined by a greenhorn quarterback, shrouded in ink, with legs like Vick, a fastball like Favre, and the most talented defense in the league. They came up 5 yards short in one of the most dramatic Super Bowl finishes in recent memory.
2013 Awards and Postseason Predictions
MVP – Tom Brady. Peyton could win this too, but if Tom gets 4000 yards, >30 TDs and <10 INTs, the voters will need a record-breaking performance to stop them from giving it to the Golden Boy.
DPOY – Aldon Smith. Smith (arguably) is the best pure pass rusher in the league, playing on a team that figures to have a lot of leads. I believe he could challenge the single season sack record this year. Fuck it, I say Aldon Smith is going to break the single season sack record on his way to a DPOY award in 2013. Quote me. J.J. Watt will be runner up, with Peanut Tillman, Luke Kuechly and Cameron Wake.
OPOY – Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers carries his team to the playoffs again, but doesn’t win his division and has better receivers than Brady, despite better stats he cannot get the MVP and has to settle for the OPOY.
DROY – Jon Bostic. Bostic will be in the middle of a veteran Bears defense and should have plenty of opportunities to make plays. Linebackers also seem to win this award frequently, but hell, maybe that’s just me. Dion Jordan and Jarvis Jones are also potential winners.
OROY – Tavon Austin. Tavon will get more touches than a player like Cordarrelle Patterson or Deandre Hopkins will get, and I don’t think any quarterbacks from this year are going to break out. Eddie Lacy will have a legitimate shot at it as well.
Coach of the Year – Marc Trestman, Trestman leads the Bears to their per-decade quota of 1 NFC North title in his first year at the helm, and will get this award for managing to do it in his first year, with a still-awful O-Line.
Bears – The Bears have been playoff-caliber the past two years, and with a new offensive scheme and fresh up and comers on defense in Jon Bostic and Henry Melton, I think this is the year they will take the North division on a tiebreak. I would put their NFC Title game hopes against 20:1 odds.
Buccaneers- Yes, I believe the Bucs are going to win the NFC South. They have been adding to the team the past few years with some big signings, and the South is a particularly cyclical division. Doug Martin is a back in the Ray Rice mold – sturdy, quick, powerful and versatile - and he has a very good line in front of him. Dashon Goldson is a huge addition to the back end of the defense, and they have a lot of young talent in the front 7 with Lavonte David being one of my favorites. I honestly think it’s very possible 3 teams could win this division, so I’ll acknowledge this shot in the dark. NFC Title game odds: 30:1
49ers –This team is loaded. They are about 4 deep with quality running backs, 5-6 deep with quality pass-catchers, a quarterback that has all the potential in the world and a defense that is the stingiest of the past few years, and still improving with players like Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Smith sets the sack record this year, 49ers snag the number 1 seed in the playoffs and I would put their NFC Title game hopes at 5:2 odds.
Cowboys – This is kind of an unpopular pick I would imagine, but the NFC East is wide open with the Eagles being the likely bottom feeder on paper. Dez Bryant is going to be a top 5 wideout in the league this year, Morris Claiborne will make the Pro Bowl at cornerback, and Dallas will roll to a 10-6 record. I would put their NFC Title game hopes at 25:1 odds.
Packers- It’s just going to be a bitch to keep Aaron Rodgers out of the playoffs if he has any wideouts that can catch and an OL that can keep him off of his ass for more than 3 seconds at a time. I’ve accepted this as a Vikings fan. Their defense has been great, their defense has been awful, but they win regardless because of Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers is a 14 year old playing GTA 3 and Christian Ponder is like the 6 year old brother who doesn’t know any of the cheat codes. Oh, and I bet Eddie Lacy runs over a couple Vikings and Lions cornerbacks this year. They are still working with a mediocre offensive line, though, so I say NFC Title game odds are 10:1.
Falcons – There’s too much talent here to keep them out of the playoffs, but with the return of Sean Payton to the Saints sideline I do believe, I say yessuh I do believe there will be a resurrection of sorts in the Big Easy that will give the Falcons an extra playoff game to get to the Super Bowl. I’m thinking they’ll go 11-5 and the tiebreaker will go to the Saints. What, am I supposed to be talking about the Falcons in this space? Julio Jones is good. So are Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. Matt Ryan is a great regular season quarterback who is prone to the same types of mistakes Eli Manning makes at times, so maybe he will also win a Super Bowl this year, who knows? I put NFC Title game odds at 5:1 for the Falcons.