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NFL 100: Playoff predictions for all rounds of the upcoming season

ANALYST
Feature
05 Sep 2019, 18:00 IST

Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes

After putting out my picks for all the major NFL awards, here are predictions for the 2019/20 playoff pictures. I went game-by-game and this is the seeding I came up with considering all the tiebreakers and implications. While some were fairly obvious, with a few I had to go deeper and really go through the different rules.


AFC

1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

2. New England Patriots (12-4)

3. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)

5. Cleveland Browns (10-6)

6. Buffalo Bills (9-7)

Just missed: Broncos (8-8), Steelers (8-8), Chargers (8-8) and Texans (8-8)

 I've already talked about the Chiefs quite a bit. I don’t really see how teams will counter a rocket-arm gunslinger in his second year with an offensive mind like Andy Reid calling the shots and I expect the defense to improve under the new scheme.

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Right behind them I have the reigning champs who just beat the Chiefs in a nail-biter in Arrowhead for the right to go to the Super Bowl. This team has inserted some youth and still has the league’s best coach. They finish second because I have them losing the direct matchup against Kansas City.

At number three I have my AFC North champion, who to the surprise of some are the 2018 divison champs. Baltimore might not have made big-name additions of an Odell Beckham Jr or guys like that, but their defense might be even better and Lamar Jackson has had a full offseason to operate in the new offense.

The South goes to the Jaguars. A couple of weeks ago, you would have certainly found the Colts at this spot or even higher, but after the retirement of Andrew Luck, Jacksonville gets in at 9-7. The defense is still loaded and with Nick Foles they at least have a capable passer on a run-heavy offense.

In that fifth seed we have the up-and-coming, media darling Cleveland Browns. This roster was simply too strong for me to go against the grain and have them miss the playoffs. I have them winning ten games and just lose out to the Ravens due to a weaker strength of schedule.

The final playoff spot goes to Buffalo, with Sean McDermott being a candidate for Coach of the Year. I think they will win games with a smashmouth rushing attack, a quarterback who can launch an 80-yard bomb at any point and a suffocating defense.

The four other teams I have just missing the playoffs are Denver, Pittsburgh, L.A. and Houston. I have them all finishing right at .500 with the Steelers having the best chance since they would own the tiebreaker over Buffalo.


NFC

Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)

2. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

3. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)

4. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

5. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

6. Carolina Panthers (9-7)

Just missed: Vikings (9-7), Saints (9-7), Rams (8-8) and Bears (8-8)

With my selections for MVP and Coach of the Year coming from the Eagles, this wasn’t tough to guess. The NFC is like ten teams deep that I could see finishing above .500, but nobody has more talent than Philly and I think the playoffs will go through them once again.

My number two team on the other hand didn’t even make the playoffs last year. With Aaron Rodgers having less pressure on him in this Matt LaFleur offense and a Mike Pettine defense that has all the pieces to surprise some people, I have them winning the North.

Another sort of surprise team will be the 49ers. Some people think they will make the playoffs, but I actually have them winning their division and neither the Rams nor the Seahawks to return for postseason action.

And the final division winner is yet another team that didn’t make the playoffs in 2018. Atlanta was devastated by injuries last year, but with a healthy squad and Dirk Koetter back calling the offense, nobody will want to face the Falcons.

My first wildcard spot goes to the Dallas Cowboys. I think this team has one of the smallest margin of outcomes, as I can’t see them go below .500 but also not win more than 10 games. A lot of that has to do with mediocre quarterback play, but this team is built on the rushing attack and their defense.

The sixth seed goes to a squad that I think is kind of forgotten at this moment. Carolina started last season off at 5-2 before being blown out by the Steelers and having Cam Newton’s injury banged up. If he is healthy with the “Cat Pack” and a defense that is absolutely stacked in the front-seven, this is a team to watch out for.

This was a really tight race for the two wildcard spots. The Cowboys were fairly “easy” because I have them finishing with the best record against NFC teams, but for the Panthers I had to dive a little deeper. With a better divisional record, they held the advantage against the Saints, but they just edged out the Vikings due to record versus common opponents. The Rams would have had the direct tiebreaker against Carolina had they won one more game.


Wildcard Round

AFC:

3. Baltimore Raven OVER 6. Buffalo Bills

5. Cleveland Browns OVER 4. Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC:

6. Carolina Panthers OVER 3. San Francisco 49ers

5. Dallas Cowboys OVER 4. Atlanta Falcons


Divisional Round

AFC:

1.Kansas City Chiefs OVER 5. Cleveland Browns

2. New England Patriots OVER 3. Baltimore Ravens

NFC:

1.Philadelphia Eagles OVER 6. Carolina Panthers

2.Green Bay Packers OVER 5. Dallas Cowboys


Conference Championship Round

AFC: 1. Kansas City Chiefs OVER 2. New England Patriots

NFC: 1. Philadelphia Eagles OVER 2. Green Bay Packers 


Super Bowl LIV prediction - Kansas City Chiefs 34:30 Philadelphia Eagles

I have my top two MVP candidates battling it out Miami once again for the title of the best quarterback in the game and this time Mahomes takes home the trophy. Of course this matchup would feature several other storylines, such as Andy Reid going up against the team he coached for 14 years and with whom he holds the record for most regular season and playoff victories, but never could bring a Vince Lombardi Trophy to.

Then there is his former offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, who did what Reid could never quite accomplish in only his second year in Philly. However, let’s not forget that LeSean McCoy would now also go up against his former team. The Kelce brothers will also be sharing the same field with several other stories to follow. In a game that will feature highlight plays by both signal-callers, a crucial defensive play could end up deciding the game.

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