The NFL Playoffs start this weekend with two AFC South teams facing off in the Wild Card round. Neither of which are the Tennessee Titans.
I’M NOT BITTER, THOUGH.
Regardless if *your* Tennessee Titans are in the playoffs or not, this year’s playoffs should be entertaining. Quite literally every team has at least one characteristic that could put them in the Super Bowl come early.
Below is the entire bracket:
…and here is a preview of every team involved, including a prediction on how they will finish.
The Colts finished the season on an absolute tear on a 9-1 run. It may be easy to say that Andrew Luck is to thank for this run, but that would be a disservice to the Colts’ defense. On this 9-1 run, the Colts have allowed 16.4 PPG, including allowing 5, 6, and 0 to Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Dallas, respectively. For the most part, the Colts match up well against their first opponent in the playoffs: Houston. They’ve met twice this season, splitting the series, with both games being decided by three points. The Colts have already won once this season in Houston, so they shouldn’t have a problem doing it again. Especially considering a walrus picked them to win already:
…but the Chiefs might be a different story in the divisional round.
Predicted Finish: AFC Divisional Round Loss to Chiefs
The Texans have been serviceable all season, with above average quarterback and skill position play. Their defense hasn’t been too bad, either. But the offensive line in Houston? Yikes. And you know how many teams have won Super Bowls with subpar offensive lines? Precisely zero. Like the Colts, the Texans have ended on a tear of their own, going 11-2 to finish the season. So both teams are hot in this first round match-up. But the smart money usually goes towards the better quarterback, and Luck is, for the most part, a better quarterback than Deshaun Watson.
Predicted Finish: AFC Wildcard Round Loss to Colts
Los Angeles Chargers
Phillip Rivers has had one of the best seasons of his career so far this year. Thanks in part to Rivers and his efforts, the Chargers finished tied for the best record in the AFC going into the playoffs. The problem with the Chargers is that they always somehow find a way to blow it. Their only two playoff wins in the past decade were against an equally cursed Bengals team and an overtime win against the Colts. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went on the road to Baltimore and blew it in the first round this year, too.
Predicted Finish: AFC Wildcard Round Loss to Ravens
The Ravens have been…something so far this season. Despite changing starting quarterbacks and dealing with tons of injuries on offense, their defense has carried them through it all. The Ravens have the No.1 defense in yards against and the No. 2 defense in points against.
Oh yeah, and Lamar Jackson didn’t take over the starting QB role on accident.
The Ravens should beat the Chargers at home, and could sneak in an upset against a somewhat questionable Patriots team.
Predicted Finish: AFC Championship Loss to Chiefs
The reigning champions of the NFL haven’t exactly had the comeback season some of their fans might have been expecting. But, making the playoffs in consecutive years is somewhat impressive. What is weird is that they keep finding themselves in the same place this time of year when it comes to quarterback play. Carson Wentz gets the majority of the playing time, but gets injured. Then Nick Foles comes in, impresses, and drags the team kicking and screaming into the postseason. But, will a team that can’t identify its best quarterback be able to go on the road and beat a team with one of the best defenses in football? Probably not.
Predicted Finish: NFC Wildcard Round Loss to Bears
Like I just mentioned, the Bears have one of the best defenses in the NFL this year, ranking No. 3 in yards against and No. 1 in points against. Add in the fact that they have a two-headed monster at running back with Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, and Chicago is going to be a tough out this post season.
Predicted Finish: NFC Divisional Round Loss to Rams
For once in what feels like forever, the Seahawks’ offense might just be better than their defense. Which is even more impressive when you consider that Seattle has been in shambles parts of this season due to injuries. Regardless, they’re in the playoffs now, and with a quarterback and coaching staff that has been here more than once, it isn’t out of the question for the ocean birds to steal a victory or two this time around.
They probably won’t, but it’s not out of the question.
Predicted Finish: NFC Wildcard Round Loss to Cowboys
A down division and inconsistent play have lead to the Cowboys getting the four-seed this year. The problem the Cowboys have faced in previous playoffs, though, has been playing too conservatively. Now, with Amari Cooper joining Ezekiel Elliott on offense, Jason Garrett should have the opportunity to open up the offense a little bit. Couple that with a top ten defense, and the Cowboys should win at least one this month. The problem is, if they want to win more than one, they’ll have to go through the Saints or Rams.
Predicted Finish: NFC Divisional Round Loss to Saints
New England Patriots
Just as a rule of thumb when it comes to the NFL: never count out the Patriots come playoff time. This might be the worst record they have had since 2009 entering the playoffs, but that is more a testament to how consistent the Pats have been than anything else. The aging Pats haven’t been what they have been in recent years, but that doesn’t mean anyone should count them out. Brady/Belli might just be going for one last ride before this whole dynasty they’ve built finally expires.
Predicted Finish: NFC Divisional Round Loss to Ravens
Los Angeles Rams
The next three teams are obviously the safest bets to make a run for it all. The Rams’ offense has been a story all season, but inexperience is the question here. Sean McVay has lost his only playoff game as a a head coach. By extension, their key offensive weapons, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, haven’t exactly had much playoff experience either. More than that, their road to Super Bowl LIII goes through New Orleans, which is always a tough place to win.
Predicted Finish: NFC Championship Loss to Saints
Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid, for as long as he’s been coaching in the league at a relatively high level, has never won a Super Bowl as a head coach. If there was ever a chance for him to do it, though, this might be the year. Patrick Mahomes has been a revelation, and could be the next face of the NFL. Sure, their defense has been lacking, but it’s tough to lose much when your offense is putting up about 35 PPG.
Predicted Finish: Super Bowl Loss to Saints
New Orleans Saints
What do you get when you have a top-ten offense, a top-15 defense, one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, and enough skill position talent to shame the Pro Bowl? You get the Saints. And, for good reason, the Saints are the safest bet to win it all this season. Plus, let’s not forget…THE FIGHTING ALVIN KAMARAS have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.