NFL Playoffs 2012: Teams Much More Dangerous Than They Seem

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 23:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks downfield to pass against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Forget about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the NFL playoffs.

So many times, the Super Bowl favorites going into the postseason have flamed out before getting the chance to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will no doubt be getting the best odds when the playoffs begin. However, each one of those teams has a flaw that could cost them down the line.

The amount of parity in the NFL can make a very good team look average, thus allowing it enter the postseason without carrying the weight of expectations.

Here are three teams that can make a run to New Orleans.


Seattle Seahawks

Quite frankly, there isn't a hotter team than the Seattle Seahawks right now. They scored 50 points or more against the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. Seattle followed that up with a 42-point performance against the San Francisco 49ers.

It might be a little disconcerting that no rookie quarterback has ever won a Super Bowl, but the Seahawks don't rely on Russell Wilson to spark the offense.

Wilson's greatest asset is his ability to avoid turnovers. He's thrown 10 interceptions on the year, but only two have come in the last seven games.

The task of offensive catalyst is left to Marshawn Lynch. He's second in the league in rushing and the architect of possibly the greatest playoff run in history. Lynch's 67-yard touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in 2011 was a thing of beauty.


Cincinnati Bengals

With a 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals clinched the last AFC Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Despite their 9-6 record, the Bengals are a team to fear.

They had one of the best pass rushes as Cincinnati is second in the league in sacks. No quarterback will be looking forward to seeing Geno Atkins running at him.

Also, with last year's exit in the Wild Card stage to the Houston Texans, the Bengals have some experience in the postseason. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green aren't overwhelmed rookies this time around.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis also has a much better run blocking unit in front of him, so the Bengals are much less one-dimensional.

If Cincinnati hadn't thrown away the game against the Dallas Cowboys, the team would be getting much more respect, considering it would have been riding a seven-game winning streak.


Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings will go as far as their running back will carry them. That might be a concern with the way quarterbacks are dominating the league. However, when that running back is Adrian Peterson, your team is in safe hands.

Peterson is 207 yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and just 102 yards short of 2,000 yards.

The Vikings have won three games in a row. A win against the Green Bay Packers would give Minnesota huge confidence going into the playoffs.

Christian Ponder has been below average this season, really struggling in the last six games or so. Regardless, he simply needs to manage the game and let Peterson shred opposing defense.