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Sports Perspective: 2013 NFL Playoffs have early favorites

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Evan Hofmann

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To make bold predictions regarding the outcomes of an entire NFL season is a daunting, if not foolish task to attempt. By its very nature, football is a sport of unpredictability. Prognosticators are made the fool, hoodwinked into believing that a team’s preseason rosters and strengths will weather the turbulent four months of grueling game play. In the unlikely event that a team does reach the playoffs unscathed, the delicate nature of each possession leaves ample opportunity for entire seasons to be lost as a result of one single mistake. There are, however, a handful of teams who are so deep, so well orchestrated, and so effectively coached that they could have their legs cut out from beneath them and would still be head and shoulders above the rest. Barring supernatural occurrences or divine intervention, one of these teams should be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy come February.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots are a team that should never be written off in the postseason. As long as coach Bill Belicheck and QB Tom Brady are standing, the team has potential to make a splash when it counts. Also factoring into the Patriots favor is the fact that they play in a weak division. 

The Cincinnati Bengals ballclub has all the youth and talent to make it a promising season. They have a solid receiver in AJ Green, who should give quarterback Andy Dalton a valid passing option on the field. However, Dalton is still an unproven leader, and it will be interesting to see what success he can muster with this year’s squad. 

The Denver Broncos are the unanimous favorites coming out of the AFC. The team leader, quarterback, and future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, is coming off of a restful offseason without significant injury or relocation. Manning is complemented by a slew of receivers in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Tvarres King. Given that Peyton Manning is now 37 years old, it is Super Bowl or bust for the deep Bronco team.

In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons are coming off a 13-3 season, and are stacked to the ceiling with offensive firepower led by quarterback Matt Ryan, receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and running back Steven Jackson. The Falcons look to be a high scoring team, and a real threat come playoff time.

The San Francisco 49ers are a very deep football team led by Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is the head of a new breed of elite quarterbacks who are destined to become the legends of tomorrow. Though the 49ers will be without Kaepernick’s favorite target, Michael Crabtree, due to an ACL injury, the team is still a major force in the NFC. 

Unfortunately for the 49ers, all roads lead to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. The Seahawks are the team most likely to walk away with a Super Bowl victory this season. Head Coach Pete Carrol runs a quick and active defense, and a tough running game. Though the team will be without the services of receiver Percy Harvin for much of the season, the Seahawks young ace Russel Wilson has shown a limitless ceiling of potential. 

The league is stacked with squads that have the talent, the leadership, and the toughness to overcome the trials and tribulations of a full NFL season. These are the teams to keep a watchful eye on throughout the fall. Odds are, one of them will be bringing home 7 pounds of football shaped sterling silver at the end of the season.

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Evan Hofmann

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