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Hollywood’s NFL Playoff Preview: Playoffs? You talking Playoffs?

What’s Up in Hollywood Sports

By Kevin Hastings - @KevinHastings

After we took a few weeks off for the Christmas holidays and my first son’s birth, we get back to the NFL review.  My son, Austin Lukas, was born on December 26 at 8:42pm.  Of course, I will raise him a Cowboys fan like his father and his grandfather.  You can see a picture of the little Cowboy on the cover and on page 15.  He’s doing well and he got to watch the Boys lay down versus the Giants this weekend.  Welcome to pulling for America’s Team, Austin!  It’s going to be an fun ride.

As for our poll, each week we eliminate one team from the poll until we get to the playoffs.  Of course, this week four teams will lose and four will advance to the second round.  The week of the pro bowl we will have team reviews for everyone, including more thoughts on Cam Newton and the Panthers.  So let’s get to the playoffs and figure out who is going to the Super Bowl in 2012.

12.  Cincinnatti Bengals (9-7) The Bengals are 0-7 versus teams with winning records this season.  News flash Cincy, all the teams in the playoffs have winning records.   They got a little lucky with a first round matchup versus a banged up Houston team.

11.  Detroit Lions (10-6) The Lions make the playoffs for the first time this millennium.  Not since 1999 has the City of Detroit had a playoff team.  The Bengals and Lions made the playoffs in 2012, yet another sign of the apocalypse is upon us.

10.  New York Giants (9-7) The G-Men slipped by the Dallas Cowboys to make the playoffs and win the NFC East.  They will host Atlanta.  Considering the Falcons are so wishy-washy and the Giants are playing at home.  Eli may just win in the first round.

9.  Houston Texans  (10-6) Can TJ Yates stay healthy and lead this team to a playoff victory in their first playoff appearance in team history?  Be forewarned, Jake Delhomme may be involved in this game, so if you’re a gambler, stay away.

8.  Atlanta Falcons (10-6) Well the Dirty Birds are in the playoffs, but will have to go on the road away from the dome to make the Super Bowl.  Atlanta’s history of losing on the road should make you a little scared of picking this team to win.

7.  Denver Broncos (9-7) Broncos fans and people around the nation may think John Fox is holding Tebow back.  It’s a little true, but us here in the Carolina’s know that nobody can call a 3rd and long draw and play for the field goal like John Fox.  Wouldn’t it be something if Tim Tebow played TJ Yates in the AFC Championship?

6.  San Francisco 49ers (13-3) The best defense and the most conservative offense outside of Denver.  You can’t out-conserve John Fox.  Unlike the teams above them, the QB is the question and not the defense.

5.  New Orleans Saints (13-3) - This is my sleeper pick.  Brees is breaking records while the offense looks unstoppable.  Another team where the defense will be the key to their Super Bowl aspirations.

4.  New England Patriots (13-3) Interesting fact:  New England only played three games this season versus teams with winning records, made the playoffs and went 1-2.  They also have the 31st ranked passing defense.  Hedge your bets on the Pats.

3.  Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) Big Ben can’t be counted out, but they have a tough opening round game versus Denver.  I know Tebow has struggled lately, but you can’t count out the Broncos at home in January.  The Steelers will have to sneak by Tebow.

2.  Baltimore (12-4) The Ravens are 4-0 vs teams in the playoffs and have the best all round roster in the NFL.  The only question is whether QB Joe Flacco can lead this team to the Super Bowl.

1.  Packers (15-1) The backup quarterback threw for a team record in yards and touchdowns.  Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Bart Starr played here.  My goodness, how good are the weapons and the offense for the QB’s in Green Bay?

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS - Winners in CAPS

WILD CARD ROUND

Bengals @ TEXANS / Steelers @ BRONCOS

Lions @ SAINTS / FALCONS @ Giants

DIVISIONAL ROUND

Broncos @ PATRIOTS / Texans @ RAVENS

SAINTS @ 49ers / Falcons @ PACKERS

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

SAINTS @ Packers / Patriots @ RAVENS

SUPER BOWL XLVI

SAINTS over Ravens

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