Last season, NFL fans were shocked to see the Baltimore Ravens, in linebacker Ray Lewis' last hurrah, win Super Bowl XLVII over the San Francisco 49ers behind the play of quarterback Joe Flacco.
Flacco had one of the greatest individual postseason runs in NFL history, throwing 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in four games. On his way to Super Bowl MVP honors, Flacco outdueled future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to reach the Super Bowl, as the Ravens proved once again last season that any team can win it all.
NFL fans though won't see a repeat performance by Flacco and the Ravens, as Baltimore failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. In 2014, young quarterbacks Nick Foles and Cam Newton will make their postseason debuts for the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
Returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, 2010 and 2009 are the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, respectively, as new coaches at the helm of each of these teams from a season ago have put each squad back on the right track.
NFL fans will also receive the luxury of a rematch between the 49ers and Green Bay Packers, as well as a possible rematch between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. One last battle between Brady and Manning would make sense, right?
The clear favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII looks to be the Seattle Seahawks, as they have only lost one home game over the past two seasons. Unfortunately for the NFC, the playoff road will travel through the 12th man in 2013.
2013-2014 NFL Playoffs
|NFC Wild Card||AFC Wild Card|
(6) New Orleans Saints vs. (3) Philadelphia Eagles
January 4, 7:10 CT
Eagles 24, Saints 17
(6) San Diego Chargers vs. (3) Cincinnati Bengals
January 5, 12:05 CT
Cincinnati hasn't lost a home game this season and the dominance should continue into the playoffs, as the feel-good story Chargers have trouble operating against one of the NFL's finest defensive units.
Bengals 26, Chargers 13
(5) San Francisco 49ers vs. (4) Green Bay Packers
January 5, 3:40 CT
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers continue to dominate the Packers, as Green Bay's defense has no answer for the 49ers' diverse offense and a beat-up Packer offense struggles against a championship-caliber defense.
49ers 27, Packers 24
(5) Kansas City Chiefs vs. (4) Indianapolis Colts
January 4, 3:35 CT
The Colts are getting hot at the right time, as NFL Defensive Player of the Year favorite Robert Mathis helps quarterback Andrew Luck win his first career playoff game over a Chiefs team which lost five of their final seven games of the regular season.
Colts 24, Chiefs 20
|NFC Divisional||AFC Divisional|
(3) Philadelphia Eagles vs. (2) Carolina Panthers
The Panthers stingy and gritty defense, led by Greg Hardy and Luke Kuechly, ring the Eagles' offense up enough as Philadelphia can't get by an intense and physical Carolina football team.
Panthers 23, Eagles 17
(3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (2) New England Patriots
In a battle between two of the NFL's best defensive units, the Patriots gain a serious edge over the Bengals whle playing in the comforts of Gillette Stadium behind the arm of Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.
Patriots 21, Bengals 10
(5) San Francisco 49ers vs. (1) Seattle Seahawks
In what would be best suited as an NFC Championship Game matchup, CenturyLink Field proves to be a nightmare for the 49ers in the divisional round,as the 12th man is a huge assist for the Seahawks' quest to reach their first NFC Championship Game since 2006.
Seahawks 27, 49ers 17
(4) Indianapolis Colts vs. (1) Denver Broncos
A rematch between Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, the Broncos get the best out of the Colts and avenge their week seven loss in Denver by the slimmest of margins in what would be one of the NFL's most watched games of the Divisional Round weekend.
Broncos 34, Colts 31
Panthers vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks continue to receive a huge boost from the 12th man and the steady play of confident second-year quarterback Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom, led by Richard Sherman, stifles the Panthers below-average receiving core for Seattle's first NFC title since 2006.
Seahawks 24, Panthers 13
Patriots vs. Broncos
In what could be the last playoff matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, this year's AFC title game will certainly be worth watching, as the Patriots will edge Denver in thrilling fashion for the second time this season and reach their 6th Super Bowl since 2001.
Patriots 30, Broncos 27
|Super Bowl XLVIII|
Seattle Seahawks (13-3) vs. New England Patriots (12-4)
Super Bowl XLVIII's location at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands will certainly prove to be a perfect place to pit the NFC and AFC Champions, as both teams have the ability to adapt to any kind of weather environment.
The Seahawks have the headliner defense, but the Patriots, behind the strong play of defensive end Chandler Jones and company, have been one of the most impressive under the radar defensive units in the NFL.
New England's offense is led by no stranger when it come to the Super Bowl, as Tom Brady has three rings of his own, but Seattle's quarterback, Russell Wilson, exhibits a confidence and poise which is special and uncommon.
Both teams have power running attacks and a physical nature on both sides of the football, but this year's Super Bowl will come down to talent. The Patriots will at least be without Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, but Seattle's overwhelming talent on both sides of the football brings the Lombardi Trophy to Seattle for the first time in franchise history.
Seahawk 17, Patriots 13
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