Welcome to my first ever playoff predictions article. I expect to get about 80 percent of these right so let’s see how I do.
AFC West: Chargers
I should preface this by saying I have been a chargers fan my whole life, I don’t know why I do it to myself it’s constant disappointment, the closest thing I can compare it to is every single time DC comics puts out a new movie, I swear it’s the one that is going to fuel the DCEU into success but like each one before it, it always falls flat. Whelp just like I expect Aquaman and Shazam to be amazing I am fully buying into the Chargers. They finished the season strong, Kansas City is starting a quarterback whose started one career game, the Raiders are focused on moving to Vegas, not to mention they’re coach is doing his best to lose the locker room, and Denver can’t seem to ever figure it out at quarterback since Peyton Manning’s good seasons, they give me concerns due to their pass rush and quality defense but I don’t think Keenum is the guy to get them in the playoffs.
AFC North: Steelers
This is really a more of a by default kind of thing. I think the Ravens have the best chance outside of the steelers to win the division, but to me their receivers are lackluster and Flacco just doesn’t have it anymore, RG3 hasn’t held up an entire season in years, and Lamar Jackson isn’t ready to play yet, count me out on them. The Bengals could be a sleeper pick here, Dalton has looked great this preseason and after retooling their offensive line, they could get back to their former glory of losing in the first round every year, but I don’t see it. Then theres the Browns, yes they have a talented roster, but their coach is 1–31 in his last two seasons so sorry if I am not sold. That one win by the way was against the chargers but I digress.
Is this a surprise pick? I’m really not sure. Lets take a look at some of the quarterbacks the Jaguars played last season: Ryan Mallet, Josh McCown, Jacoby Brisset(2), Deshone Kizer, Blaine Gabbert, and Marcus Mariota(2). Are we sure their defense is elite or did they just play a lot of bad quarterbacks? Not to mention the fact that this team can’t play from behind with their own bad quarterback, count me all the way out on the Jags this year. The Colts have Andrew Luck coming back but their O-line is coming back too without major improvements, and don’t even get me started on the defense, new coach same roster, I’m out on them too. That leaves the Titans but I will talk more about them in my (spoiler alert) AFC wildcard section.
AFC East: Patriots
Until either Tom Brady or Bill Belichick leave I’m going to pick them. The Jets are interesting here but I don’t think they have enough offensive skill players to compete the whole season, look out for that secondary though, I would say the Jets are a year away. Then theirs the Dolphins, they got Ryan Tannehill coming back but they lost they’re stud wide receiver and Devante Parker is always hurt, Im honestly having trouble seeing this team being any good. Then theres the Bills and Nathan Peterman has been named the starter at quarterback, do I even need to say more?
AFC Wildcard: Titans and Chiefs
The Chiefs I mentioned earlier are starting a very inexperienced quarterback and have a very weak secondary, but I believe Andy Reid is one of the most creative offensive coaches not including time management, In a week AFC I think the Chiefs can get in with a strong offense and a mediocre defense much like they did last year. I know Mahomes is young but I still fully expect Andy Reid to get the very best out of him. Finally the Titans, they have new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur a product of Wonder coach Sean McVay, I see him getting Marcus Mariota back to form after a surprisingly bad turnover filled season. Pair that With Deion Lewis and Derrick Henry this offense could be very explosive. Like the Chiefs a good offense and mediocre defense could very well get you into the playoffs in the AFC.
NFC West: Rams
You ever see that scene in Avengers Infinity War when Thor gets to Wakanda for the first time and just rips everyone to shreds? Thats what the Rams are going to do the NFL. They have a prolific offense headlined by Todd Gurley and Jared Goff and they’re coached by a wizard. Their defense is somewhat a fantasy, they have Aaron Donald and Ndomukong Suh on their front so good luck running on them. Should you decide to throw on them they have corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, this defense is going to cause nightmares. If anyone can figure out this defense it’s going to be Kyle Shanahan. He’s the only coach who can even touch McVay offensively. Him coupled with the undefeated Jimmy Garoppolo could make some noise but I think they’re a year away. Next up is the Seahawks who can only ask Russel Wilson to do so much. He hides a lot of faults like a bad O-line and a mediocre receiving crew but I just don’t think he can sustain an Aaron Rodgers style of play over a whole season, much like last year they will miss the playoffs. Rounding out the division we have the Cardinals who have a new coach, a quarterback who can’t stay on the field and and often injured (in college) rookie quarterback. They do have David Johnson coming back from injury but he won’t be enough. I have them finishing in last place.
NFC North: Vikings
The Vikings are returning a very strong defense from last year and head Coach Mike Zimmer is on a mission to combat the Run-Pass Option. They have a new offensive coordinator but they are returning stud wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook is returning from injury at running back, and last but not least they upgraded at quarterback with Kirk Cousins. Say what you will about Kirk but he is a far better player than Case Keenum. The Vikings will take this division easy. Two and three for this division will be the Packers and Bears but (spoiler alert) their my wildcard picks. Lastly there is the Lions who I’m fairly certain got worse at head coach with Matt Patricia. His defenses often looked bad at New England the last couple years, you could argue they didn’t have good players but they often didn’t seem prepared for simple schemes.They also didn’t have a hundred yard rusher last season, we will see if rookie Kerryon Johnson can change that. Even if he can I thinkl they’re in too tough a division to make any noise, count me out on the Lions.
NFC South: Saints
I’m all the way in on the Saints this year, they should’ve beat the Vikings last year in the playoffs and I expect them to come out on a mission this year. Losing Mark Ingram for four games hurts but they have Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara to shoulder the weight. They also have a defense that got rejuvenated in the second half of the season, their secondary is young and talented. I expect them to take the division with an 11–5 or 12–4 record. The Panthers are interesting here but I don’t think their offense has enough weapons. Christian McCaffery is a great receiving back, but I’m not convinced he can run between the tackles 20 times a game with Jonathan Stewart gone. Their defense should be talented per usual but this is a division where you have to be really good on both sides of the ball and I don’t think they are. The Falcons are the best team I am leaving out of the playoffs. I think they missed their shot when they blew a 28 point lead in the super bowl two years ago, nothing against them I just think they missed their window. This offense will be prolific they have way too many weapons to not be, but like I said about the Panthers, you got to be really good on both sides of the ball and I don’t think they are. Only one team makes the playoffs in this division because I think they beat each other up too much. All I’m going to say about Tampa Bay is that Dirk Koetter will probably be fired by week 8. Good luck Tampa fans it’s going to be a long season.
NFC East: Eagles
This division was tough but I’m counting on Philly not having a superbowl hangover. I think Carson Wentz comes back right where he left off. This is a talented roster with an innovative Head Coach I think he finds a way for them to repeat as division champions, something that never happens in this division. The team that I think threatens them the most are the New York Giants. They have a coach who actually mixes up his formations and he’s got more weapons to use here than he did at Minnesota. This team could easily have a bounce back year on both sides of the ball with better coaching, but in the end I just don’t think Eli Manning has it anymore, Odell Beckham will mask some of that but not enough and I think that does them in. My sleeper for this division is the Washington Redskins. Alex Smith is a smart quarterback who will not turn the ball over and he has some pretty talented tight ends to work with in Jordan Reed(when healthy) and Vernon Davis, unfortunately thats about it. They already lost Darrius Guice to injury and to this point Josh Doctson has been underwhelming, I am rooting for Adrian Peterson to have a comeback season but these days you can’t be one dimensional as a running back and I don’t think he’s going to try to change this late in his career. The defense was often injured last season and I think they’ll improve with Jonathan Allen coming back and adding De’arron Payne to that front. Only time will tell on this team. Lastly the Cowboys seem to be going in the wrong direction. They brought in Allen Hurns at wide receiver, but that won’t counter the losses of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, two guys who have caught the majority of Dak’s Touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliot will probably get the ball 25 times a game but that will become predictable. They just don’t have enough talent to compete with the rest of this division.
NFC Wild Card: Packers and Bears
I have two teams from the NFC North here because of their schedule. This season they’re playing the AFC east which I think is one of the weakest divisions in football, I expect them both to get at least three wins from those four games. Besides that the Packers are led by Aaron Rodgers. He’s the most talented quarterback I have ever seen. He can almost singlehandedly alter the outcome of a game, as long as he stays healthy I think they get in the playoffs. Yes, I know there are far more talented teams but between Rodgers and a fairly easy schedule I say they sneak in the playoffs. Finally we get to the Bears, a team I have totally bought into. I am intrigued by both sides of the ball with this team. On the defensive side they have their freshly traded for stud Kahlil Mack and Akiem Hicks terrorizing the quarterback,they have first round pick Roquan Smith patrolling the middle of the field, and Eddie Jackson watching over the secondary, I can’t wait to see what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio does with this team. On the offensive side of the ball They have new head coach Matt Nagy, who comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree and I think he will get the absolute best he can out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. To make sure the offense stays steady he will have running back Jordan Howard, and if he wants to mix things up he has speedy Tariq Cohen. This team has some talent and I think the coaching staff is going to bring it all out of them.
Superbowl: Saints vs Texans
I’m not sold on this at all. The AFC could have anyone come out of that conference, and the NFC is so talented I could have just gotten all my picks wrong. None the less as I said earlier I am all in on the Saints this year, I expect them to improve on last years success and go all the way to the big game. For the Texans, I just couldn’t pick the Patriots again, and I didn’t want to be biased and pick the chargers, so I decided to pick a team with an exceptional young quarterback and a very good defensive front. Only time will tell what’s going to happen.