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NFL 2012-2013 Playoff Preview and Futures

January 4, 2013

As the NFL season has come to an end, we’ll take a look at the future odds heading into the playoffs starting on January 5th. Our odds are provided by Bovada.lv online sportsbook. Firstly let’s take a look at the current picture of both the AFC an NFC playoffs.

Superbowl AFC and NFC Picture 2012-13

Source: CBSSports.com

AFC Playoff Picture

The Denver Broncos (13-3) are the AFC’s top seeded team and have a first round bye. Currently, they are the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII at 11/4 odds and 5/4 favorites to win the AFC Championship.

They have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and will not have to face the Houston Texans if they advance this weekend in the Divisional Round.

The Broncos and Peyton Manning actually started off the season 2-3. They had losses to both Atlanta and Houston, and then, in Week 5, New England. From there, they rattled off 11 straight victories.

Peyton Manning

While there is no doubt Manning and company are running on all cylinders, and the defense has played exceptionally well with standouts like linebacker Von Miller and Champ Bailey, the Broncos strength of schedule is still a concern.

Perhaps their losses to other playoff contenders early on were just because Peyton did not have his repertoire with his receivers down yet, but Denver has benefited from one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this year.

The AFC West has been downright terrible besides Denver. The Kansas City Chiefs ended the season at an NFL worst, 2-13. The Oakland Raiders regressed from one game away from the playoffs last season to a 4-12 campaign this year. Even the normally competitive Chargers had their first losing season under Norv Turner, ending their season at 7-9.

The Broncos could very well win the Super Bowl, but at these odds we don’t find much value. Also, Peyton Manning has not always performed his best in the playoffs compared to his statistically monstrous regular seasons. Even among the favorites, we think, there is better value to be had besides Denver. If you fancy a bet on Denver check out Bovada.lv

The New England Patriots (12-4) are the AFC’s 2nd seed and have home field advantage unless they face they Denver Broncos in an AFC Championship game. At 4/1, odds, they are 2nd in Super Bowl odds to win and come in with 8/5 AFC Championship odds.

The Patriots are always a threat to win the Super Bowl, and this year is no different. Their regular season ended with a 12-4 record, and impressive feat, considering they faced the many of the best teams in both the NFC and AFC.

Lead by Tom Brady, the Patriots are an offensive juggernaut and look to be fully healthy come playoff time. Rob Gronkowksi is perhaps the best tight end in the league, and a dominating red zone target that should be fully healthy when the Pats begin their playoff run in the divisional series.

New England’s weakness, as it always seems to be these past couple seasons, is their defense. While they are remarkably solid against the run, an important factor for success in the postseason they are terribly woeful against the pass, ranking 29th in the regular season and giving up over 270 yards passing per game.

New England’s pass defense is horrid, but we have to remember teams are often behind by double digits late in games and are forced to air it out. The Patriots can put up 30 points easily on formidable defenses and do even more damage to an average to subpar ones.

Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck always seem to come out on top, and the Patriots are our favourites to make it to the big dance from the AFC. Back the Patriots with Bovada and claim your new signup bonus by clicking the banner below.

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The Rest of the AFC

The Houston Texans (12-4) are the third seed and will face the Cincinnati Bengals in a wild card matchup in Houston. Their current Super Bowl odds are 15/1, and their odds to win the AFC are 7/1.

Houston is coming into the postseason in the midst of a slump, losing three out of their last four games. The media and prognosticators have all but written the Texans off because their recent losing streak. The Texans are still one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, and certainly will leave it all out on the field as the football world is seemingly souring on their Super Bowl aspirations.

Many people picked the Texans as a preseason favorite to win the Super Bowl, and while have obviously been disappointing as of late, they have plenty of offensive weapons, a strong running game and a ball hawking defense. Their Super Bowl odds of 15/1 are especially enticing and would provide a nice payout for a team that has been a top contender in most people’s minds for more than two-thirds of the season.

The Baltimore Ravens (10-6) are an example of another team that was talked about as a top contender for much of the season, but are now more of an afterthought due to their play down the stretch. Their Super Bowl odds are currently 22/1 and their odds to win the AFC Championship are set at 11/1. They will face the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore as the AFC’s fourth seed.

Joe Flacco

Marred by inconsistent play and poor defensive performances as of late, the Ravens have lost four out of their last five. Joe Flacco (pictured right) has been wildly inconsistent all season, and the defense has been the worst Ravens’ defense in what seems like the past five seasons.

We don’t see a Super Bowl run in Baltimore’s future, but without a doubt, stranger things have happened. Ray Lewis will return in the Wild Card game against Indy, a game that could very easily be his last game donning the purple and black. Despite the emotions involved, it would be hard to see the Ravens winning more than one playoff game.

They simply are not built to win shootouts and their defense has been giving up big play after big play in the final weeks of the season. Ray Rice’s elusiveness is not enough to carry an offense on its own and Joe Flacco’s down field passing game is nearly nonexistent.

Still, at 22/1 if you see something in the Ravens we do not, they could payoff big for bettors. It’s something to think about if you think this aging team has another championship run left in the tank.

The Indianapolis Colts (11-5) are the first Wild Card and the AFC’s 5th overall seed. Current odds are set at 45/1 to win the Super Bowl and 22/1 to win the AFC Championship. Odds are still available at www.bovada.lv

Indianapolis turned their franchise around in a big way after selecting Andrew Luck as their franchise quarterback in the 2012 draft. The team was 2-11 last season but has more than righted the ship of the franchise, finishing with an 11-5 mark this season. They started off the season losing three of their first five games making the feat all the more impressive.

We love the feel good story of the Colts, but we think it ends with an early playoff exit. They have played excellent football as of late, but their strength of schedule was last in the entire league and beating the AFC’s top teams seems almost unthinkable. Luck has thrown for over 200 yards in just one of his last four games, and though he is clearly the cornerstone of the franchise, his numbers are not elite, yet. He has completed just 50 percent of his passes and thrown 18 picks to go with 23 touchdowns.

Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) round out the AFC playoff picture as the final Wild Card and 6th overall seed. Cincy have 45/1 odds to win the Super Bowl and are a 20/1 favorite to win the AFC championship.

The Bengals get into the big dance after a late collapse by their rival Steelers and face the Texans at Reliant Stadium to kickoff the playoffs. Cincinnati has won their last three games, but they have not been in an impressive fashion. Offensively, they continue to struggle and will face a path of excellent defenses in the playoffs, starting with Houston.

We do not see Dalton and company breaking their playoff win drought this year and think this team will have trouble moving the ball. We would stay away from the Bengals, despite their immense odds; we think they are surely headed for an early exit.

NFC Playoff Picture

The Atlanta Falcons (13-3) are the NFC’s top seed and are fourth in Super Bowl odds at 7/1 and are second in odds to win the NFC Championship game at 5/2. The Falcons have a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Matt RyanThis Atlanta team has been one of the most dominant in history. Lead by a powerful aerial attack, Matt Ryan (right) has had by far his best statistical season as a passer, throwing for 4700 yards and career high 32 touchdowns. There isn’t likely a better receiving combination of Roddy White, Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez – who will retire after this season, making this his last quest for a Super Bowl.

The defense started off quite strong but has fallen towards the bottom third of the league late into the season. They do defend the pass much better than the run, a spot where Atlanta is coincidently also weak offensively.

The Dirty Birds decided to play their starters in the final week of the season against Tampa, but still lost 22-17 to the Buccaneers. However, they have been dominant throughout the season, and like many teams led by powerful offenses, the Falcons can put up points in a hurry and force opposing defense to work from behind. They have scored 20 points or more their last eight regular season games.

Atlanta is no doubt a threat to win the Super Bowl but is more of a low lying pick among the top favorites. They could face a particularly tough 2nd round matchup against a number of teams that finished the season hot, such as the Seahawks and Redskins. Though, their home field advantage throughout the playoffs is significant, the NFC is extremely tough this year. We would steer clear of Atlanta even with generous top seed odds.

The San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) are the NFC’s 2nd seed and will have home field advantage unless they face the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. Despite being the 2nd seed, the Niners are listed as favorites to win the NFC at a slightly higher margin than the Falcons and have odds at 9/4. Their odds to win the Super Bowl are set at 7/1.

In a surprise move late in the season, Coach Jim Harbaugh removed Alex Smith as the starter and replaced him with Colin Kaepernick. The decision seems to have paid off. Though the 49ers lost two out of their last six games, ‘Kap’ has been impressive in the pocket and explosive with his running ability when the pocket breaks down.

Also, San Francisco boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses and has played one of the toughest schedules in all of football. Though, they were dominated by Seattle two weeks ago, an opponent they could face in the second round, there is no doubt this team can compete for a Super Bowl. In fact, there would likely be a disappointment in around San Francisco if they did not.

Kapernick is the key here, and his play could influence this outcome drastically in either direction. We lean toward him impacting them positively. His explosiveness and added running dimension makes the 49ers offense truly unpredictable and able to compete with other high powered offenses, in case their defense does not show up. He is still raw in some areas of the game, but we see him as a clear upgrade over the ho-hum play of Alex Smith. To be fair, Smith is an above average quarterback, but we think Kapernick could bring the 49ers to an elite level. At 7/1, we love the 49ers as a Super Bowl future wager. Get them at either Topbet.eu or www.bovada.lv

The Rest of the NFC

The Green Bay Packers (11-5) are the NFC’s third seed and will take on the Minnesota Vikings at home on Wild Card Weekend. Always a threat to win a title, the Packers are listed with 15/2 odds to win the Super Bowl and 10/3 odds to win the NFC Championship.

The Packers were hoping to secure a first round bye, but lost to Minnesota in the last game of the season, the same opponent they will face off against to start the playoffs. Before that, Green Bay had won their last four games and nine out of their last ten games.

Scoring has not been a problem for the Packers as their high powered offense can easily get it done against weaker defenses, but protecting Rodgers has been. He has been sacked the most times in his career this season, and with injuries on the offensive line, his numbers are all the more impressive.

Bettors could look at Green Bay’s odds and remember when they won the Super Bowl two years ago as the NFC’s 6th seed and see them as generous. We disagree.

This Packers team has significant problems running the ball and stopping the run, and against powerful offenses this could prove vital. When Rodgers is forced to sit on the sideline, Green Bay suffers. Also, their lack of a running game makes it harder to kill off a game late and gives the opponent more chances to get back into the game. Finally, the Packers defense is a liability. Sure, they did not give up a ton of points in the regular season, but they gave up a lot of yards. This bend but don’t break style won’t work in the playoffs unless the Packers can score 30 every game and we’re guessing they cannot.

It is hard to say that at 11-5 Green Bay is in a bit of down year, but it seems like that is the case. We would look for higher upside picks or other top favorites before we take the Packers this season.

The Washington Redskins (10-6) are the NFC’s fourth seed and will take on the Seattle Seahawks in Washington on Wild Card Weekend. Their current odds for the Super Bowl are set at 18/1, and their NFC Title odds are at 9/1.

The Redskins won out in one the toughest divisions in football and now will host a playoff game. Finishing the season on a high note, they won their last seven games including a playoff clinching game against Dallas to end the season.

Matt RyanRobert Griffin III (pictured) might be the most impressive rookie this season in an already standout class. He is third in the NFL in completion percentage and has thrown 20 touchdowns to go with just five interceptions. He has also rushed for over 800 yards and has seven rushing TDs. Along with RG3, the rest of the Redskin offense has soared as of late, and their defense has also been improving as the season has come to a close.

As far as long shot bets go, the Redskins would pay off nicely at 18/1, but we doubt they have the team to do it. Their opening matchup against Seattle is already tough enough, and in the NFC, any team that is a lower seed would need extreme talent to make it anywhere near the big dance.

However, that team might be the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) who come into the playoffs as the 5th seed in the NFC. Facing Washington at home, the Seahawks look like most dangerous team coming into the playoffs. They are listed at 11/1 odds for the Super Bowl and nearly identical odds to win the NFC Championship at 11/2.

Before their 20-13 victory against St. Louis on Sunday, Seattle had scored the following point totals in their previous three games, 42, 50, and 58 points. The 42 coming against one of the best teams and defenses in football, the San Francisco 49ers.

Out of any team in the playoffs Seattle is playing the best and is probably the stoutest on defense. Many teams win Super Bowls by peaking at the right time, and Seattle is certainly reaching the peak as they head into the postseason. The aforementioned Russell Wilson is a rookie QB that barely seems to make the headlines, but has had a wonderful season.

Seattle has already beaten large favorites such as New England and crushed the NFC favored San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, 42-13. Seattle is our team to come out of the pack and make some noise in these playoffs, they are a bargain at 11/1 odds. We found them at 11/1 at www.topbet.eu and www.betonline.ag as well Bovada.

Finally, the Minnesota Vikings (10-6) round out the pack as the 6th seed in the NFC. The Vikings are currently listed at 40/1 odds to win the Super Bowl and 18/1 odds to win the NFC Championship.

Minnesota defeated their first round opponent Green Bay in the final week of the season to make the playoffs. They have had an up and down season and will be hard pressed win their first game against the Packers, even though they beat them in the final week of the season to make the playoffs.

Adrian Peterson could easily rush for 200 yards and the Vikings could still lose. Minnesota just doesn’t have enough weapons to make it far into these playoffs, even if they do happen to pull an unlikely upset against the Packers. We’re steering clear.

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About the author

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

Sports Journalist

Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.