NFL Playoff Power Rankings and Preview

As the 2011-2012 NFL Playoffs get set to begin this weekend, the “Sports with Balls” crew was polled to determine our NFL Playoff Power Rankings.

(1st place votes were worth 12 points, 12th place votes worth 1 point; value in parentheses is highest vote received)

1. Green Bay Packers – 58 points (1)

Aaron Rodgers

–  They were the best team in football the entire regular season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have issues. Injuries have started to mound up, their pass defense isn’t very good, and they are 27th in rushing. It will be no cake walk for them with the Saints and 49ers in the NFC. –warrencroxton

– Aaron Rodgers and the offense consistently make plays, but the defense will be what ultimately will cost them. –scottyb4

2. New Orleans Saints – 54 points (1)

Drew Brees

– Drew Brees had a season for the ages and made the MVP race interesting, but there is no doubt he wants it to end victoriously in Indianapolis. The Saints have the firepower to get to Lucas Oil Stadium, but can they win without the friendly confines of the dome with trips to San Francisco and Green Bay looming? First up is a potential shootout with the Lions. –wfucich

– No one is hotter going into the playoffs than Drew Brees and the Saints offense. They’ll look to get rebound from a tough postseason loss in Seattle last season. –sherms18

3. New England Patriots – 44 points (2)

Tom Brady

– Whenever you have Tom Brady & Bill Belichick you have a chance, especially in what appears to be a wide open conference this season. The Pats will look to win their first playoff game since 2007 behind a high powered offense and a timely defense. –Mike O

– Tom Brady had a fantastic season, but this defense will prevent them from making a Super Bowl appearance. 31st against the pass and 17th against the run won’t get it done against Baltimore or Pittsburgh. –warrencroxton

4. Baltimore Ravens – 44 points (2)

Ray Rice

-The Ravens finally won a bye and at least one home playoff game (8-0 at home this season). If Harbaugh is smart, Ray Rice will have a heavy workload after the bye. This is an important playoff run for Joe Flacco as an inefficient showing in an early loss may start a Mark Sanchez-like demise. The Ravens have the ability to beat any team in the NFL if they play Ravens football, a deep run is expected in Charm City. –wfucich

-They’ll try to ride their stout defense along with a great running game into the Super Bowl for the first time in the 2000 NFL season. sherms18

5. San Francisco 49ers – 43 points (3)

Patrick Willis

-Winning with good defense and a record number of field goals isn’t sexy, but it’s hard to argue with 13 regular season wins. sherms18

– This is a Super Bowl Caliber defense, but Daivd Akers can’t be kicking field goals in the red zone. Can Alex Smith keep up with Brees and Rodgers? I say no. –warrencroxton

6. Pittsburgh Steelers – 40 points (3)

Troy Polamalu

-Old, slow and first in total defense in terms of ypg and scoring in the NFL. While Ben is hobbled, Mendenhall is out for the playoffs and the offensive injuries pile up, the defense gets a little healthier as their bookend 3-4 OLBs play together for the first time since early in the season; bad news for Tim Tebow. If the Steelers are to repeat as AFC Champs the offense has to take better care of the football. –wfucich

-The Steelers enter the playoffs battered and bruised but this has been the case for a while and they managed to win 12 games. Ben Roethlisberger is the 2nd best quarterback in the AFC field, which gives them the ability to make yet another Super Bowl run.  –Mike O

7. New York Giants – 31 points (6)

Eli Manning

-It only took 16 weeks, but the Giants seem to finally have a defense to go along with Eli Manning. –sherms18

– A team that has a two headed running attack, powerful d-line and an elite quarterback who has won big games should cause NFC teams concern. –scottyb4

8. Detroit Lions – 24 points (7)

Calvin Johnson

– Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are a great duo, but their team simply isn’t ready to make a run, and a first round matchup against the Saints in the dome doesn’t help. –warrencroxton

– With all the QB heroics in 2011-12 Matthew Stafford sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, the 23 year old had a phenomenal season. Behind Stafford, the Lions offense has the ability to hang with the Saints but can the defense muster enough stops? –wfucich

9. Atlanta Falcons – 18 points (8)

Matt Ryan

– With a dangerous running game and a play-making defense they could find a way to upset the Giants. –scottyb4

– Matt Ryan and the Falcons, despite high expectations, have come up small in prior playoff runs.  They’ll look to change that as they head into New York as underdogs this week. –Mike O

10. Houston Texans – 17 points (8)

Arian Foster

– Is there a more resilient team in the NFL this season? Despite injuries to Mario Williams, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub the Texans won their first AFC South title and are in the postseason for the first time in franchise history. Houston may finally be feeling the effects of some of those injuries as they come in on a 3-game losing streak. TJ Yates meets fellow rookie Andy Dalton in a week 14 rematch with Cincinnati as the city of Houston hosts their first playoff game since the Oilers days. –wfucich

– Great running game, fantastic defense, along with home field advantage are among factors that should help the Texans in their quest to win the franchises first playoff game. –Mike O

11. Cincinnati Bengals – 12 points (10)

Andy Dalton

– Still searching for their first impressive win this year and first postseason victory since 1990, the surprising Cincinnati Bengals can accomplish both of those Saturday afternoon in Houston. The Bengals won 9 games behind a stout defense, ball control offense and the rookie air connection of Dalton to AJ Green. –wfucich

– The Bengals entered the 2011 season with zero expectations. They now find themselves in the playoffs behind star rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green and a solid defense. Don’t count them out in Houston. –Mike O

12. Denver Broncos – 5 points (12)

Tim Tebow

– Tebowmania certainly lost some of the luster with 3 losses to close the season, still, a surprise AFC West title and home playoff game certainly is more than anyone expected in the Mile High City. Elvis Dumervil is always productive against Pittsburgh, he and Von Miller should make things tough on a hobbled Big Ben. With the Steelers penchant for letting inferior teams hang around on the road, Tebow Time may get an encore. –wfucich

– I’m rooting for them simply because of Brian Dawkins, but this is a very poor match-up for Tim Tebow & the Broncos.  –warrencroxton

Take a look back in time and check out the “Sports with Balls” NFC & AFC preseason preview and predictions.

Playoff Predictions:

Warren:
Wildcard Round:

Cincinnati over Houston, Pittsburgh over Denve

New Orleans over Detroit, NY Giants over Atlanta

Divisional Round:

New England over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh over Baltimore

Green Bay over NY Giants, New Orleans over San Francisco

Conference Championship:

Pittsburgh over New England

Green Bay over New Orleans

Super Bowl XLVI:

Green Bay over Pittsburgh

Bill:
Wildcard Round:

Cincinnati over Houston, Pittsburgh over Denver

New Orleans over Detroit, NY Giants over Atlanta

Divisional Round:

Patriots over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh over Baltimore

Green Bay over NY Giants, New Orleans over San Francisco

Conference Championship:

New England over Pittsburgh

New Orleans over Green Bay

Super Bowl XLVI:

New Orleans over New England

Scott:
Wildcard Round:

Houston over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh over Denver

New Orleans over Detroit, NY Giants over Atlanta

Divisional Round:

New England over Pittsburgh, Baltimore over Houston

Green Bay over NY Giants, New Orleans over San Francisco

Conference Championship:

New England over Baltimore

New Orleans over Green Bay

Super Bowl XLVI:

New Orleans over New England

Matt:
Wildcard Round:

Houston over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh over Denver

New Orleans over Detroit, Atlanta over NY Giants

Divisional Round:

New England over Pittsburgh, Baltimore over Houston

Green Bay over Atlanta, New Orleans over San Francisco

Conference Championship:

Baltimore over New England

New Orleans over Green Bay

Super Bowl XLVI:

New Orleans over Baltimore

 

Mike:
Wildcard Round:

Houston over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh over Denver

New Orleans over Detroit, NY Giants over Atlanta

Divisional Round:

New England over Pittsburgh, Baltimore over Houston

Green Bay over NY Giants, San Francisco over New Orleans

Conference Championship:

Baltimore over New England

San Francisco over Green Bay

Super Bowl XLVI:

Baltimore over San Francisco

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2 thoughts on “NFL Playoff Power Rankings and Preview

  1. wildcard:
    Houston. Pittsburgh. Atlanta. New Orleans.
    Divisional:
    New England. Baltimore. Atlanta. San Francisco.

    Conference:Baltimore. San Francisco.

    Super Bowl:
    San Francisco. Wth not?

    Super Bowl:

  2. Matt’s picks have been added.

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