CATCH ME IF YOU CAM: Cam Newton is a dynamic playmaker, but can he carry the Panthers to a winning record? Photo courtesy Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

This past weekend we set up how each team shaped up heading into the 2012 NFL season. But that was simply fact-based analysis. Now it’s time for the fun part: sports-based witchcraft.

No, I’m not a Hogwarts graduate nor am I one of the people who walked into McDonald’s at two in the morning pretending to be one. But to predict how 32 NFL teams will fare this season takes no facts or hard science, just gut feelings and a man’s intuition. Call it ESP(N).

First up, like with our season previews, is the NFC. Here are the predicted final standings, by division, for the conference of the defending Super Bowl champions. You’ll notice, it also has all the postseason details.


Dallas Cowboys-yz


New York Giants-x


Philadelphia Eagles


Washington Redskins



Green Bay Packers-yz*


Detroit Lions-x


Chicago Bears


Minnesota Vikings



Atlanta Falcons-y


New Orleans Saints


Carolina Panthers


Tampa Bay Buccaneers



San Francisco 49ers-y


Seattle Seahawks


St. Louis Rams


Arizona Cardinals


x-Clinched Wildcard, y-Clinched Division, z-Clinched 1st Round Bye,

*-Clinched 1st Round Bye and Home Field Advantage


In this prediction, the Packers clinch the top seed in the playoffs while Dallas also secures a Wild Card Bye, but the real story here is New Orleans. The Lions,12-4, take one wild card spot and leave only one left. New Orleans and the New York Giants are both 10-6, but in this scenario the defending Super Bowl champions win the tie breaker.

If you think it’s unlikely to happen, remember that Tampa Bay failed to make the playoffs despite a ten-win season just a few years ago. I can almost guarantee there will be at least one very good team that fails to make the playoffs.

Now, here is the AFC.


New England Patriots-yz* 13-3
New York Jets-x 9-7
Buffalo Bills 9-7
Miami Dolphins 4-12


Pittsburgh Steelers-y 10-6
Baltimore Ravens-x 9-7
Cincinnati Bengals 9-7
Cleveland Browns 4-12


Houston Texans-yz 11-5
Tennessee Titans 9-7
Indianapolis Colts 4-12
Jacksonville Jaguars 2-14


Denver Broncos-y 9-7
Oakland Raiders 8-8
San Diego Padres 6-10
Kansas City Chiefs 6-10
x-Clinched Wildcard, y-Clinched Division, z-Clinched 1st Round Bye,

*-Clinched 1st Round Bye and Home Field Advantage

Suffice it to say, if this situation were to play out as predicted above, it would be a sticky situation. You have not one, not two, but FIVE teams tied record-wise for the two wild card spots. Some serious tiebreakers have to be worked out and, when the dust settles, the Jets and Ravens are into the NFL playoffs.


Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Postseason Predictions

Those regular season predictions are all good and fun, but no one’s reading this article to find out the over/under of the Chiefs. No, they want to know who will be raising the Lombardi trophy in February. We’d like to say we have the answers, but we don’t. In fact, no one does. So let’s say this: Here’s a continuance of the same prediction scenario started above.

Wild Card Playoffs

#5 Detroit Lions vs. #4 Atlanta Falcons – Despite having a better record, the Lions here are seeded as the underdog. No matter, the Falcons prove they have no answer for the dynamic duo of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson as Detroit rolls. Detroit 31, Atlanta 21

#6 New York Giants vs. #3 San Francisco 49ers – In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship, the G-men get the last laugh once again as Eli Manning passes New York to victory. This time, however, the game does not come down to a costly turnover. New York 21, San Francisco 17

#6 New York Jets vs. #3 Pittsburgh Steelers – In a battle of the “organization of character” vs. the “organization of characters”, Pittsburgh’s defense proves to be too much for what is shaping up to be a rather conservative Jets offense. Pittsburgh 20, New York 6

#5 Baltimore Ravens vs. #4 Denver Broncos – Peyton’s rap for struggling to play outdoors proves to be his postseason Achilles’ heel again as the veteran struggles against an equally seasoned Baltimore defense that manages to do what divisional rival Pittsburgh could not last year: eliminate Denver at home. Baltimore 17, Denver 14

Divisional Playoffs

#6 New York Giants vs. #1 Green Bay Packers – Is this a reunion tour? After a postseason rematch with the Niners, the Giants draw a postseason rematch with the Packers. This time, though, history does not repeat itself and the Pack advances. Green Bay 34, New York 21

#5 Detroit Lions vs. #2 Dallas Cowboys – What seems like a Thanksgiving day matchup turns into an absolute war that heats up January. In the balmy Texas winter, the Lions enjoy not having to play the and give the Dallas Cowboys yet another premature postseason exit. Detroit 38, Dallas 30

#5 Baltimore Ravens vs. #1 New England Patriots – We’ve already had one conference championship rematch, so what’s one more? The Ravens and Patriots shell out a re-do but the result is the same: New England’s high-octane offense outdoes Baltimore’s stolid ‘D’. New England 27, Baltimore 17

#3 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #2 Houston Texas – A lot of people put their money on Pittsburgh and a lot of people lose whatever money they bet. The balanced attack that is the Houston Texans exit victorious after a Texas onslaught. Houston 20, Pittsburgh 10

Conference Championships

#5 Detroit Lions vs. #1 Green Bay Packers – Much like Chicago and GB a couple years ago, these two divisional rivals square off with a trip the Super Bowl on the line. Detroit’s bid to compete with the Packers comes full circle as they beat them when it matters most. Detroit 41, Green Bay 34

#2 Houston Texans vs. #1 New England Patriots – The quiet but deadly Texans get into an all-out war with the best team in the regular season. It’s back and forth until the very last second, when Houston nails a field goal to end it all. Houston 24, New England 21

Super Bowl XLVII

NFC Detroit Lions vs. AFC Houston Texans – In what fans call the “up-and-comer” Super Bowl, Detroit’s holes on defense are a bit apparent when matched up against the well-rounded Texans and their inability to stop the scoring ultimately hands them the loss.



A Special Acknowledgment to Meg C. Cooksey who helped with this article.
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure you follow him @bclienesch for NFL updates and other shenanigans!