After holding out as long as possible, I finally submitted my playoff predictions to my bosses at NFL.com. I hate these predictions and here's why: There are too many variables outside of your control. For instance, before we learned Peyton Manning's neck injury would cost him the entire 2011 season, who would've predicted the Indianapolis Colts would post the worst record in the NFL?
That horrible season turned out to be quite a coup for the Colts organization. With the No. 1 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, they were able to land Peyton Manning's replacement, Andrew Luck.
Next year's draft is shaping up to be full of game-changing players at several key positions. Whichever team ends up with the first pick will likely have to decide between these two options: A once-in-a-decade pass rusher or a franchise quarterback.
We went ahead and made that decision for all 32 teams. For some of the teams, the choice was obvious. For others, the decision was less clear, and in some cases, nearly impossible.
Arizona Cardinals:Carson Palmer is a big upgrade over what they've had recently in Arizona but there is still a need for a long-term solution at the position. Choice: Quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons:Matt Ryan has been incredibly consistent during his career and the Falcons just locked him up with a long-term extension. This team desperately needs a dynamic pass rusher. Choice: Pass rusher.
Baltimore Ravens:Joe Flacco is coming off a Super Bowl MVP, he's in his prime, and he just got paid a ton of money. Choice: Pass rusher.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills just invested a first-round pick in EJ Manuel and an elite pass rusher would be impossible to ignore. Choice: Pass rusher.
Carolina Panthers:Cam Newton can be frustrating to watch at times, but you can't ignore his potential for greatness. The Panthers are loaded along the defensive line, but they would still be forced to take the pass rusher. Choice: Pass rusher.
Cleveland Browns:Brandon Weeden has shown some positive flashes but the Browns couldn't pass up the opportunity to land a franchise QB. Choice: Quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys:Tony Romo has struggled in big moments during his career but he's still a gifted passer and the Cowboys just paid him handsomely. Choice: Pass rusher.
Detroit Lions:Matthew Stafford has thrown for more than 10,000 yards over the last two seasons. He is still only 25 years old. Adding another freak to the defensive front would be scary for the rest of the NFC North. Choice: Pass rusher.
Green Bay Packers:Aaron Rodgers is right in the middle of his prime and he's arguably the top passer in the NFL. Choice: Pass rusher.
Indianapolis Colts:Andrew Luck is the best young signal-caller in the NFL. It's an easy choice to upgrade the pass rush. Choice: Pass rusher.
Jacksonville Jaguars: In order to be competitive in the long-term, the Jaguars must secure a franchise quarterback. Choice: Quarterback.
Kansas City Chiefs:Andy Reid loves quarterbacks and he wouldn't be able to pass on a young signal-caller to lead his franchise for the next decade. Choice: Quarterback.
Miami Dolphins:Ryan Tannehill is going to be a very good quarterback for a long time. This isn't a difficult decision. Choice: Pass rusher.
Minnesota Vikings: This is a big year for Christian Ponder, but based on the current evidence the Vikings would have to take a franchise quarterback over an elite pass rusher. Choice: Quarterback.
New Orleans Saints:Drew Brees is 34 years old, but he doesn't show any signs of slowing down. This defense needs impact players and a big-time pass rusher would be a good place to start. Choice: Pass rusher.
New York Giants:Eli Manning is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks and he still has plenty of good years left. The Giants love collecting dominant pass rushers. Choice: Pass rusher.
New York Jets: This team has been in search of a franchise quarterback for a LONG time. Choice: Quarterback.
Oakland Raiders: A nasty pass rusher would look great in silver and black but this team is desperate for a franchise quarterback. Choice: Quarterback.
Philadelphia Eagles:Michael Vick hasn't proven he can stay healthy or produce in the postseason. Chip Kelly couldn't afford to pass on a franchise quarterback. Choice: Quarterback.
Pittsburgh Steelers:Ben Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls and he still has plenty of good years left. An elite pass rusher would help the Steelers maintain their defensive dominance for the next decade. Choice: Pass rusher.
San Francisco 49ers:Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in just his second NFL season. He's one of the bright young stars in the NFL. Can you imagine adding another ferocious defender to this defense? Choice: Pass rusher.
Seattle Seahawks:Russell Wilson is going to lead this squad for a very long time. Pete Carroll would be ecstatic to add a fierce pass rusher. Choice: Pass rusher.
Washington Redskins:Robert Griffin III's presence makes this a no-brainer. The Redskins do have two very talented edge rushers but they could easily trade one of them for a draft pick or player. Choice: Pass rusher.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals already have one of the best young defenses in the NFL. Andy Dalton has been good enough to get the Bengals into the postseason, but is he good enough to win a championship? Choice: Quarterback.
Houston Texans: Could you imagine adding another dominant pass rusher to team up with J.J. Watt? That would be very tempting, but an upgrade at the quarterback position would be the smarter move. Choice: Quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Josh Freeman hasn't proven to be consistent enough to take this team to the next level. They have a need for an outside pass rusher, but a franchise quarterback would be the right move. Choice: Quarterback.
Tennessee Titans:Jake Locker is very strong, tough, and athletic, but he's not a pure passer. Choice: Quarterback.
Chicago Bears: This is a difficult call. Cutler is only 30 years old, but it might be time to start fresh at the quarterback position. Choice: Quarterback.
Denver Broncos:Peyton Manning has been in this situation before. With Manning's age and a dominant pass rusher already in the building (Von Miller), the Broncos would have to select the QB. Choice: Quarterback.
New England Patriots: This is a tough one. Tom Brady is 36 years old and selecting his eventual replacement seems like the wise thing to do. However, I'd be too tempted to take the pass rusher and make another title run. Choice: Pass rusher.
San Diego Chargers:Philip Rivers is only 31 years old but he's taken a beating over the last few seasons. This was one of the tougher teams to predict. I could argue for either position but I settled on a franchise quarterback. Choice: Quarterback.
St. Louis Rams: This is a make-or-break season for Sam Bradford. The Rams already have two excellent pass rushers. This is a total tossup ... I'll lean quarterback. Choice: Quarterback.