Point Train’s 2013 NFL Conference Champions
NFC Play On: NY Giants (+1000)
The NY Giants started last season 6-2 and appeared to be well on their way back to the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title. The wheels came off in the second half of the season. The G-Men finished 3-5 and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. It’s hard to figure out what went wrong for New York last season. We’ll start with the defense. They took a giant step back last season and finished 31st in yards allowed. They couldn’t consistently rush the quarterback and rarely came away with an opportunistic turnover. They were able to put up big numbers on offense (ranked 6th in scoring offense and put up 36 points or more on six different occasions) and win some big games (23 point blowout over San Francisco and 28-point blowout over Green Bay). So it’s obvious to us that the talent is there. The discipline and execution needs to be a lot better. Expect that veteran coach Tom Coughlin will have his team raring to go after an extremely disappointing end to 2012. Take the Giants to get back to playoff form and as a great bet to come out atop the NFC standings.
AFC Play On: Baltimore Ravens (+2500)
We nailed this selection last year with a “Play-On” the Baltimore Ravens. They won the AFC Championship and went on to win the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers. Baltimore lost a number of key players and are not getting a ton of love in preseason predictions. They lost Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and Anquan Boldin, among others. A lot of people seem to forget that last season Baltimore didn’t have great defensive rankings a year ago in their run to the Super Bowl. The Ravens ranked in the bottom half of rushing yards & passing yards allowed. So it may have been addition by subtraction getting rid of some of the aging veterans. They were able to bring Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Matt Elam (draft), and Arthur Jones (draft) who should step in immediately on defense. Offensively this team should only get better. Joe Flacco returns with high confidence after a stellar postseason run and the running attack combination of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Expect Baltimore to continue to compete with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the AFC North and take the Ravens as a strong AFC contender in 2013.