The NFL playoffs start tomorrow, which means it’s time for me to make some outlandish predictions, try to find obscure data points to support those predictions, and hope no one calls me out on them when they’re wrong. Here’s my breakdown of all 12 playoff teams, and ultimately who I think is going to be fighting for the crown come February.
- Kansas City Chiefs – I’m not sold on the Chiefs. I’ll be the first to admit their offense is nothing short of spectacular. But their defense is one of the league’s worst. They’re also just 3-4 against teams with winning records, and 2-3 in games decided by less than a touchdown. They’re 7-1 at home, which should come in handy, but their one home loss was against the Chargers, who they could be seeing again in the near future.
- New England Patriots – Everyone has been hard on the Patriots this year, myself included. But what we are forgetting is if they didn’t give up that absurd lateral play against Miami in Week 14, they would be the 1 seed. They are also undefeated at home and are 5-2 against teams with winning records, including wins against Kansas City, Chicago, and Houston. While it’s looking like Tom Brady is finally slowing down, the Patriots were 5th in the league in rushing yards per game, and their defense is near the top in turnovers and points allowed per game. The dynasty continues.
- Houston Texans – The Texans finished 11-5 after starting 0-3, but I’m unimpressed. They’re 3-4 against winning teams, and 2 of those wins have been against winning teams when they were playing like garbage. Their offense is decent, and they have one of the league’s best run defenses, but their pass defense is 5th worst in the league in yards allowed per game. That’s probably why they were torched by Andrew Luck in Week 14, and there’s a very good chance he’ll do it again.
- Baltimore Ravens – I’m sold on the Ravens. They have won six of their last seven, with the only loss being a 3 pointer against the Chiefs in Kansas City. They are second in the league in rushing, and defensively they are first in yards allowed per game and second in points allowed per game. If they are to make a deep playoff run they’ll need Lamar Jackson to pass better, but all the other pieces are there.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Poor Philip Rivers. The Chargers had the second best record in the AFC, and Rivers had another really solid season, but the Chargers get no respect. They should. They have the league’s best road record, and they’re a well rounded team that’s not far from the top of most statistical categories. Their rematch with the surging Ravens, who beat them in Week 16, will be a good game to watch, and we’ll see if the Chargers can improve that road record to 8-1 on the year.
- Indianapolis Colts – Part of me wanted the Titans to beat the Colts, but with a closer look, they actually aren’t bad. They’ve won 9 of their last 10, including two wins over the Titans, one against the Texans in Houston, and one against the Cowboys. Andrew Luck is a machine, and when they face the Texans on Saturday they face one of the league’s worse passing defenses. Looks like the Colts are a team good enough to make playoff runs once again.
- New Orleans Saints – I’m struggling to find a weakness to this Saints team. Their only losses seem to be anomalies, and they’re 5-1 against teams with winning records. Even though their offense doesn’t put up a ton of yards, they do score a lot of points, which more than makes up for an average defense. The Saints should’ve made it to the NFC title game last year, and there is no reason to expect they won’t get their revenge this time around.
- Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are certainly a really good team. The question is how good? They’re second in the league in total scoring and loaded with weapons, and their defense is third in generating turnovers. The problem is they’ve lost two of their last four, including matchups with the Eagles and Bears. Jared Goff hasn’t put together a solid performance since the shootout with the Chiefs in Week 11 (the Week 17 gimmie against the high school team playing in San Francisco doesn’t count). With a likely rematch with the Bears coming up, it all depends on what Rams team shows up for the playoffs.
- Chicago Bears – The Bears defense is simply the league’s finest, leading the NFL in turnovers and points allowed per game. They’ve also won 9 of their last 10, and absolutely humiliated the Rams back in Week 14. The only potential drawback for the Bears is they haven’t really been tested on the road, having only faced one opponent on the road who finished over 500. When that test comes in a rematch with the Rams in the divisional round, expect one amazing game of football.
- Dallas Cowboys – Remember when the Cowboys were 3-4, Dak Prescott was trash, and Jason Garrett was about to be fired? Since then they’ve tightened up and are 7-1 at home on the year. Their defense is solid, and they held the Saints to a season low 10 points back in Week 13. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the league’s best 3 running backs, and Dak Prescott has looked more like rookie Dak than sophomore Dak. They should get revenge on the Seahawks in the Wild Card, and we’ll see if they can repeat against the Saints in the divisional round.
- Seattle Seahawks – Seattle is a worse team than their record shows. Their offense scores a lot of points (tied for sixth in the league), but they are middle of the pack in yards per game, and their once mighty defense has been middle of the road the entire season. What’s worse is they’re 3-4 against teams with winning records, and none of those wins have been on the road. While they beat Dallas at home in Week 3, that was a very different Cowboys team, and I don’t expect them to do it again.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Philly snuck into the playoffs with late season wins against the Rams and Texans. The magic stops here though. They don’t give up a ton of points, but when they do, it’s game over. They’re just 1-4 when they give up more than 26 points, which coincidentally, happens to be the Bear’s average points scored per game. I enjoy the touching Nick Foles stories as much as the next guy, but it’s not happening this time around.
That’s the rundown on every team, my general attitude, and that data backing that up. My predictions are as follows:
Wild Card Round
- Bears beat the Eagles
- Cowboys beat the Seahawks
- Chargers beat the Ravens
- Colts beat the Texans
- Andrew Luck puts on one crazy show and the Colts stun the Chiefs in a shootout in Arrowhead
- The Patriots narrowly triumph over the Chargers in what can only be described as a well executed game of football
- In a grind of a football game, the Bears wear the Rams into the ground and advance to the conference championship
- Despite their best efforts to dominate the possession, the Saints get their revenge on the Cowboys in front of the home crowd
- In Foxboro, Tom Brady still reigns supreme, and the Patriots triumph over the Colts to make their third straight Super Bowl appearance.
- While the Bears come out gunning, Drew Brees is just too skilled, experienced, and committed to let this one slip, and he leads the Saints back to the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl
- The Patriots are good, but not that good. The 2018-2019 Super Bowl champions will be the New Orleans Saints.
Agree with the list? Think I’ve been blinded by my support for the Patriots? Who do you think will emerge victorious from the NFL playoffs? The first game kicks off tomorrow at 4:35, so there’s about 24 hours at the time of posting until this gets exposed by reality. As always, thank you for reading, be sure to hit that button on the side to follow and drop a comment down below!