For each team in the playoffs, one of the following will happen:
1) They will lose in the wild-card round.
2) They will lose in the divisional round.
3) They will lose in the conference championship.
4) They will lose the Super Bowl.
5) They will win the Super Bowl.
Because I believe that the playoffs are not a simple matter of determining which team is the best, I have decided to give the likelihood of each outcome for each team. Some of them might get a little screwy.
New England Patriots
1) SB Win. They haven't lost yet, so it seems a likely outcome.
2) Conf Loss. Indianapolis can upset them, and don't rule out San Diego if they make it that far.
3) Div Loss. Jacksonville is also very upset-capable, and they're a likely opponent for the Pats.
4) SB Loss. If they make it this far, they won't lose to an NFC team.
5) WC Loss. Obviously, it can't happen.
1) Conf Loss. New England beat them already; it's realistic that it'd happen again.
2) SB Win. They ARE the defending champions, after all.
3) Div Loss. San Diego beat them already; it's realistic that it'd happen again.
4) SB Loss. Again, there's so much experience here, they won't lose to an NFC team.
5) WC Loss. Again, duh.
San Diego Chargers
1) Div Loss. Indy probably knows what went wrong last time, and they've got the brains to fix it.
2) WC Loss. If Haynesworth & Co. shut LT down, forcing Rivers to take over the game, it could end badly.
3) Conf Loss. Getting past both New England and Indianapolis? Sounds unlikely.
4) SB Loss. I think they only make the Super Bowl if the Jags or Steelers beat the Patriots and they get home turf. But if it came down to Turner and Rivers against Phillips and Romo, McCarthy and Favre, Holmgren and Hasselbeck, Gruden and Garcia, or Gibbs and Collins, I'd go with the NFC team. I always go with the best coach/QB combo in the Super Bowl.
5) SB Win. Maybe they'd get the Giants somehow.
1) WC Loss. I think Pittsburgh matches up better against the Patriots than the Jaguars; I really think Jacksonville is the best-equipped team to beat Pittsburgh.
2) Div Loss. If San Diego wins, they get the Pats. Even if Tennessee wins, they'd get the Colts. Both rough.
3) SB Win. Their leaders have been there, and if they can win two playoff games, they can win four.
4) Conf Loss. Of course, so have the leaders of whichever of the 1st-round-bye teams they don't face.
5) SB Loss. Don't see them losing if they make it.
1) Div Loss. The Colts have beaten them twice and can probably do it again.
2) WC Loss. The Steelers might have learned a lesson or two last time. Could not having Willie Parker somehow help them?
3) Conf Loss. Knocking off the past 3 Super Bowl winners would be really impressive. Don't see it happening yet.
4) SB Win. They'd have trouble with Dallas, but I think they'd beat most anyone else in the NFC playoffs at least six times out of ten.
5) SB Loss. The other four times.
1) WC Loss. Vince Young is questionable, thus, so are the Titan's chances of beating red-hot San Diego.
2) Div Loss. The Patriots do not play at their pace, there's almost no way they top New England.
3) SB Loss. I think if they made a conference championship against the Colts, they'd upset them. But they're too inexperienced to win a Super Bowl.
4) Conf Loss. Or maybe the Colts would win.
5) SB Win. Young's won big games before, and that's why he was drafted #3. But to win a Super Bowl with no NFL playoff experience? I'm super-skeptical.
1) Conf Loss. If it's a Packers-Cowboys match for the NFC crown, a lot will depend on the health of T.O. and Charles Woodson. If one is healthy and the other isn't, that team wins. If both are equal, I like the Packers, with Brett Favre's experience. They've looked way better since their last game.
2) Div Loss. They're rooting for Seattle today, I'd imagine. Sure, they weren't focused, but the Skins just held them to 1 rushing yard all game. That's scary. If Washington wins today, I bet they pull the upset next week.
3) SB Loss. The AFC has 3 QBs with Super Bowl rings. Romo hasn't won a playoff game yet. Don't much like Dallas in the Super Bowl.
4) SB Win. Well, they can't lose in the Wild Card round.
5) WC Loss.
Green Bay Packers
1) SB Loss. Green Bay's my favorite (though not my prediction) to represent the NFC in Arizona. But against Brady or Manning, it's hard to pick Favre.
2) SB Win. Tough call, but I think it's more likely Favre ends his magical comeback season with a ring than losing to another NFC team.
3) Conf Loss. Dallas or Tampa Bay could beat them; very possibly.
4) Div Loss. Also very possible, with a likely matchup against Tampa Bay or Seattle. Those guys aren't rolling over.
5) WC Loss. Impossible.
1) Div Loss. I'd give it 49% they lose today, but don't expect great things against Green Bay after that point.
2) WC Loss. Washington's so hot right now.
3) SB Loss. If they get past Green Bay, they can beat Dallas. They've got the experience advantage.
4) Conf Loss. But there are no guarantees they'll beat Dallas. Or even Tampa Bay or Washington, should that happen.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1) Div Loss. This is tough, because it's hard to get a read on the Bucs. But they've been pretty bad on the road, so I'll say a loss at Dallas or Green Bay is most likely.
2) Conf Loss. Again, probably on the road, probably not going to make it past both top seeds, or even Seattle, on the road.
3) SB Loss. Garcia and Gruden might have more playoff success under their belts than any other coach/QB combo this side of the bracket. I could see them taking the NFC.
4) WC Loss. If this happens, I'll firmly believe one should not rest their starters when the playoffs are clinched. I'm already close to that belief; we'll see if these playoffs convince me.
5) SB Win. As much as I dislike Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin in the playoffs, I have to admit it's more likely that they beat the Bucs than the Bucs beating the AFC's champ.
New York Giants
1) WC Loss. In case you couldn't tell by now.
2) Div Loss. This is pretty much going to progress sequentially.
3) Conf Loss. Doubt they make it this far.
4) SB Loss. Wouldn't the press love an all-Manning bowl? Actually, there were more Mannings in last year's, with Ricky Jr. and Danieal on the Bears, but I digress.
5) SB Win. If they got the Chargers somehow, it could happen - but God, Coughlin and Eli vs. Norv and Rivers? I can't imagine it.
1) WC Loss. Again, I think the Seahawks are more likely to beat Washington than the Cowboys are.
2) Conf Loss. I'm amazed by Todd Collins, but it's hard to see him make a Super Bowl, with the more experienced Hasselbeck, Garcia, and Favre around.
3) Div Loss. Dallas isn't exactly a pushover.
4) SB Win. I'm going for the glory - if they make it, they win it. Can you imagine if they take vengeance on the Pats?
5) SB Loss. Can you imagine if the Pats score 52 on them again? Ouch.