We've reached a midpoint in the 2013 NFL campaign. How will the rest of the season play out? Our analysts provide their predictions, covering the major individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and picks for Championship Sunday/Super Bowl XLVIII.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Gil Brandt: Bengals over Chiefs. Yes, Arrowhead Stadium -- where I predict this matchup to take place -- is a formidable place to play, but the Bengals have what it takes to pull off an upset (despite Thursday night's underwhelming performance).
Albert Breer: Bengals over Broncos. Through the first month of the season, we saw the uneven Bengals team that quickly departed the playoffs the last two years. What we saw for most of October is what Cincinnati has the ability to be: a team built for January. I'll give them the circumstantial playing-on-Thursday pass for the Dolphins debacle, and keep believing that their depth -- in light of the Geno Atkins injury -- will carry them through.
Bucky Brooks: Broncos over Bengals. The combination of Peyton Manning and the "Big Three" (Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker) is too much for the Bengals' beleaguered secondary. The Broncos drop 40 in the AFC Championship Game to secure their Super Bowl spot.
Jeff Darlington: Broncos over Colts. Whether the postseason shakes out this way or not, I can't help but daydream about the awesomeness of a rematch between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck when it would matter most.
Elliot Harrison: Broncos over Colts. Indy's playoff run with Andrew Luck comes to an end in Denver, where the Colts will have trouble replicating the pressure they created against Peyton Manning in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck won't get enough help from Trent Richardson against a stingy Broncos run defense.
Michael Silver: Bengals over Broncos. That was my story before the season, and I'm sticking with it. Only a fierce, talented, disciplined defense can take down Manning. The Bengals fit the bill. Geno Atkins' injury is a huge hit, but Mike Zimmer's bunch boasts quality depth.
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Albert Breer: 49ers over Seahawks. I know the Seahawks have the Niners' number. I know, with how I predict the NFC West to play out, the game would be at CenturyLink Field. I know, man for man, Seattle probably is more talented. So call this a gut feeling.
Bucky Brooks: Seahawks over Saints. The 12th Man plays a major role in the Seahawks' defense suffocating the Saints' offensive juggernaut. With the deafening crowd noise helping Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin jump the snap count, the Seahawks harass Drew Brees into a dreadful performance on the way to claiming the NFC crown.
Elliot Harrison: Seahawks over 49ers. It will be hard for any team to beat the Seahawks in Seattle, given how well the team plays in front of the raucous 12th Man. The 49ers will make it to the NFC Championship Game after upsetting the Saints in the first round.
Daniel Jeremiah: Seahawks over Saints. The Saints score a lot of points against a dominant Seattle defense, but it's not quite good enough to secure a win. Marshawn Lynch runs wild, and the Seahawks pull out a close one.
Ian Rapoport: 49ers over Panthers. I'm on board with Carolina, thinking they've hit their stride for good. As for the Niners, it's the same as it's always been: run the ball, get after the quarterback and be efficient. San Francisco has all the tools to make a repeat appearance.
Adam Schein: 49ers over Saints. I think San Francisco is going to emerge as a juggernaut in the second half of the season, as Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham return to the field. Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick beat New Orleans in an epic NFC Championship Game.
Michael Silver: Seahawks over Saints. My original pick was Seahawks over Niners, but I believe Seattle and New Orleans will be the top two seeds -- and both of those teams are exceptionally tough to beat at home. In the end, Russell Wilson goes toe-to-toe with Drew Brees, and the Seahawks' defense and Marshawn Lynch make the difference.