NFL Playoffs: Predictable/Unpredictable

Predictable: We all knew that the Denver Broncos would get a first round bye.

Unpredictable: What we didn’t know is that the AFC West would send three teams to the playoffs.

Predictable: Not to discredit the Broncos show on turf this year, but the rule changes promotes a passing league, so they were in line to break several records.

Unpredictable: No one in the world though that Peyton Manning and company would score nearly 40 points per game this year (38.7).

Predictable: Of course the New England Patriots made the playoffs, if only because the AFC East lacks competition for the division crown.

Unpredictable: The household name Tom Brady might throw you off, but if you watched the Patriots play he thrusted his name into honarary MVP mention by going 12-4 (winning 5 of last 6 games).

Predictable: Tom Brady would struggle this year without Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and only having Rob Gronkowski for half the season.

Unpredictable: The Patriots lost the passing weapons above, as well as key offensive lineman and several starters on defense, yet he arguably did his best coaching job by ranking in the top ten in points scored (offense) and allowed (defense).

Predictable: We all knew that the Seattle Seahawks would get a first round bye.

Unpredictable: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been excellent in his first two years, after being drafted in the third round.

Predictable: Seattle traded for offensive playmaker and returner Percy Harvin, with his healthy in jeopardy you knew he wasn’t joining the team at full-go, until their first playoff game.

Unpredictable: More on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, he was drafted by the MLB twice, in 2010 and 2013.

Predictable: We all knew that the Seattle Seahawks would get a first round bye.

Unpredictable: Not only is Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, safety and teammate Earl Thomas is as well.

Predictable: It was only a matter of time before the Carolina Panthers made the playoffs, which was why head coach Ron Rivera was on the hot seat.

Unpredictable: With that said, if someone told you the Panthers would win the NFC South and clinch a first round bye, they’re probably lying.

Predictable: The NFC East would come to the last week of the season, it’s been the reoccurring theme for the division.

Unpredictable: Unless you’re me, you didn’t think that Eagles quarterback Nick Foles would shine as a starter over Michael Vick.

Predictable: Receiver DeSean Jackson had his best year as a pro in Coach Kelly’s uptempo offense.

Unpredictable: Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing, and head coach Chip Kelly’s system worked as they ran the most plays and ranked third in offense.

Predictable: The Cincinnati Bengals were going to win the AFC North.

Unpredictable: Cincinnati remained in the top 8 in defense despite losing key starters, and the offense put up 40+ points three times this season, scoring 30+ points twice.

Predictable: Green Bay would win week 17 with Aaron Rodgers returning under center.

Unpredictable: That the Bears and Lions couldn’t gain breathing room when Aaron Rodgers was sidelined.

Predictable: Even with the Houston Texans playing at a high level in recent years, the Indianapolis Colts were posied to win the division.

Unpredictable: Not only trading for running back Trent Richardson, but the fact that the Colts remained dedicated to the run after Ahmad Bradshaw got hurt and they made Donald Brown the lead back.

Predictable: The Colts only skipped a playoff beat when their starting QB was lost for the year (Peyton Manning at the time), then they drafted Andrew Luck and returned to the tournament ever since.

Unpredictable: The Colts were supposed to lose in embarrassing fashion against the Chiefs, at home, then tale of two halves occurred topped off by that miraculous comeback.

Predictable: New Orleans would be back in the postseason with the return of Sean Payton, and that they are virtually unbeatable in the Superdome.

Unpredictable: Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would turn the last-ranked defense into a top-ten defense.

Predictable: Just like a few years ago when the Saints milked the clock to defeat the Eagles in the playoffs with a walk-off field goal, I knew they would do my Eagles in again when they got the ball back in the waning minutes.

Unpredictable: The Saints went marching into Philadelphia without previously winning a road game in the postseason, and it was by rushing for nearly 200 yards (helped Drew Brees who threw a pair of picks and the defense was fresh all night).

Predictable: I don’t know about you but Kansas City was a playoff team two years ago, so I expected them to be in the playoff picture.

Unpredictable: The Chiefs were the last undefeated team at 9-0, finishing 11-5 right behind the Broncos for the division and playoff bye week.

Predictable: Running back Jamaal Charles would go absolutely nuts with head coach Andy Reid calling the plays.

Unpredictable: That quarterback Alex Smith took his game to another level in the playoff loss to the Colts, losing his top two running back mates in the process.

Predictable: San Francisco lost the Super Bowl but you knew they were going to be back in the postseason, tougher than last year.

Unpredictable: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, he didn’t have a great year but is the best playmaker in the league when he plays Green Bay.

Predictable: The 49ers defense and ground game was strong yet again, mainly the defense that got healthier for the playoff run.

Unpredictable: 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree would become the NFL version of Robert Horry (retired NBA stretch forward/champion), basically playing when it matters most and producing like a stud.

Predictable: Combining the voltage of Bolts quarterback Philip Rivers, head coach Mike McCoy, and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, would rekindle the offensive fire in San Diego.

Unpredictable: Receiver Keenan Allen would be a Rookie Offensive Player of the Year candidate, after starting the season as the team’s fourth receiver on the depth chart (injuries to Denario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd).

Predictable: Antonio Gates (first) and Danny Woodhead (second) would lead the charge as Rivers’ safety valves, leading the team in receptions.

Unpredictable: Chargers running back Ryan Mathews would have the best season of his short career, and healthy for the most part because he played through pain (but was it because it was a contract year?).