2018-19 NFL Wild Card predictions

nfl wildcard

I’ll be making my NFL playoff predictions here over the course of the tournament.

AFC – #6 Indianapolis Colts at #3 Houston Texans – Andrew Luck is back from injury and has led his team to a fantastic season, only to be upstaged by division rival Houston, who also has a quarterback who’s back from injury in DeShaun Watson. Ultimately, I have to pick the home team in a close game with very little separating the two squads. Houston 23, Indianapolis 20

NFC – #5 Seattle Seahawks at #4 Dallas Cowboys – The NFL is thrilled that its ratings juggernaut Dallas is in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they won’t last. Seattle is too good, with a quarterback who I used to hate on in Russell Wilson, but now I consider a more reliable QB than even Aaron Rodgers. Dallas got in thanks to playing in a weak division. They aren’t long for this tournament. Seattle 26, Dallas 21

AFC – #5 Los Angeles Chargers at #4 Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens just flat-out can’t pass the football. In the year 2019, that’s not going to work. Heck, watching some of these old games, it wouldn’t have worked in 1979! Philip Rivers, meanwhile, will lead the Chargers to a bunch of scores by way of his arm, and the Chargers win in my “lock of the week.” Los Angeles 34, Baltimore 17

NFC – #6 Philadelphia Eagles at #3 Chicago Bears – If the Eagles were healthy at the quarterback position, there’s no doubt I’d pick them. But with the Chicago defense on fire, and Nick Foles having come out of the last game due to injury, I have to play it safe and go with the home team. It’ll be close, though. Chicago 16, Philadelphia 14

2018, Week 1: In your life, have you ever…?

2018, Week 1: Packers 24, Bears 23

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

I said something nasty about Aaron Rodgers last night. I said he wasn’t as tough as Brett Favre.

An hour and a half later, Rodgers had pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Packers history, beaten the Bears once again, and thrown three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The score was 20-0. Rodgers was not just hurt, he had been beaten around by the Bears defense. The experts put the Packers’ chances at winning at 3% and said that Rodgers should stay on the sideline since there was no chance at a comeback.

Then everything changed. After a field goal to make it 20-3, Rodgers had the greatest quarter of his career. Three touchdown passes, two of them from long distance, and a comeback for the ages. The first came to Geronimo Allison on a go route, a long bomb that was perfectly thrown. The second was on a shorter pass to Davante Adams, who juked a couple players to make it to the end zone. The third? An improvision where Rodgers bought time, squeezed the ball through a window to Randall Cobb, then Cobb sprinted for a 75-yard touchdown.

But keep in mind, Rodgers was hurt. He was basically playing on one leg. He had no business being on the field. To throw three touchdown passes in a quarter to lead a team from down 20 points while suffering from a major injury? I’ve only seen something like that from one guy: Brett Favre. And on this night, Aaron Rodgers wrote a chapter in his Hall of Fame story that will be told in Canton some day.

+’s & -‘s:

+: Rodgers, Cobb, Allison, secondary.

-: Offensive line in the first half, Clay Matthews.

2018 Green Bay Packers: 1-0

Next week: vs. Minnesota

2018 NFL season preview/predictions

NFL Logo

The NFL is moving in a direction that you may not like, but you cannot avoid. The elimination of kickoffs, the elimination of big tackles, and even the elimination of rushes. Rushes? You mean teams will stop running the ball? Yes, I do. Not totally, but mostly.

You see, as the Patriots nearly proved in Super Bowl LII, it is actually profitable to pass the ball on every single play. Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards, but it was not enough, as the Eagles lit up the scoreboard as well. I don’t know if the NFL’s record of a 72-41 score will be threatened, but I do expect scores to go really high in the very near future. Scores where both teams score 40 points will become common. A team will likely challenge the Bills’ record for a 32-point comeback. And the power-running game will go mostly extinct.

Who does that favor? Well, obviously, the teams with the best quarterbacks. The only question is which quarterbacks will step up when it matters most. Can Aaron Rodgers make it through a season uninjured? (Not sure on that one.) How long will Tom Brady play before retiring? (Probably until he gets ring #6.) Will people keep overlooking Ben Roethlisberger? (I don’t like the guy, but I cannot deny his Hall of Fame talent.) Who wins it all? Read on to find out.

AFC

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (12-4)
  2. New York Jets (9-7)
  3. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
  4. Buffalo Bills (4-12)

The Patriots will coast to another first-round bye. They’ll once again be the class of the AFC, and easily win a 10th consecutive division title. The Jets will be competitive under rookie QB Sam Darnold, a guy from my second school USC. Miami will hang around for a while, but not contend. The Bills are starting over, and won’t be back to the playoffs.

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11)
  4. Cleveland Browns (5-11)

The Steelers will end up with the #1 seed in the conference, because they have, by far, the most talent in the league. Baltimore should be in the wild-card hunt, while Cincinnati won’t compete. The Browns will obviously not go 0-16 again, but there’s still a long way to go before they become competitive again.

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans (10-6)
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
  4. Tennessee Titans (5-11)

The Texans will win the division if Deshaun Watson can come back from his injury. The Jaguars unfortunately blew their chance at glory last year in the fourth quarter in New England, and now with all the trash-talking from Jalen Ramsey, I think they take a step back. The Colts will be competitive with Andrew Luck back, as long as he stays healthy. Tennessee doesn’t strike me as a threat to make the playoffs.

AFC West

  1. Oakland Raiders (10-6)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)
  3. Los Angeles Chargers (8-8)
  4. Denver Broncos (5-11)

I think with Derek Carr, the Raiders are the class of the division even without Khalil Mack. I’m not sold on the Chargers, who have no home-field advantage and are basically playing 16 road games. The Chiefs will end up tied with them in the division, while the Broncos peter out in last place.

NFC

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
  3. New York Giants (8-8)
  4. Washington Redskins (4-12)

There is no end in sight to the “E-A-G-L-E-S” chants. The Eagles will once again be in the Super Bowl hunt, and it doesn’t matter who their quarterback is. The only hope to the rest of the NFC is that a quarterback controversy develops. If it doesn’t, then the Eagles will have a great chance at repeating. The Cowboys should be in the hunt for a wild-card berth, as the Giants should, too. The Redskins won’t be as good with Alex Smith.

NFC North

  1. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
  2. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
  3. Detroit Lions (8-8)
  4. Chicago Bears (4-12)

The Vikings have such a good defense that it’s hard to pick against them, even as a Packers fan. Plus, I can’t be sure that Aaron Rodgers will make it through a whole season without getting hurt again. If he can, the Packers will make the playoffs. The Lions are the ultimate mediocre team, right at 8-8. The Bears may have upgraded their defense with Mack, but their offense is still a joke, and they won’t be in it.

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
  2. Carolina Panthers (9-7)
  3. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

Atlanta is a Super Bowl contender, and the only reason I have them not at the top of the conference is that they play in a tough division. The results may not reflect it, however. The Panthers should be in the wild-card hunt, but not the Saints. Drew Brees is the ultimate stat guy. He racks up all the statistics and records, but has only the two conference championship appearances in his career and that’s it. The Bucs won’t be in it.

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (9-7)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
  4. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)

Picking the Seahawks not to win this division is tough, but Seattle’s defense is not what it once was. The Niners are my pick to win the division thanks to the acquisition last year of Jimmy G. I think he leads them to a surprise playoff berth. The Rams stay in it until the very end, while Arizona struggles mightily.

Playoffs:

AFC:

#1 Pittsburgh Steelers
#2 New England Patriots
#3 Houston Texans
#4 Oakland Raiders
#5 Jacksonville Jaguars
#6 Baltimore Ravens

NFC:

#1 Philadelphia Eagles
#2 Minnesota Vikings
#3 Atlanta Falcons
#4 San Francisco 49ers
#5 Green Bay Packers
#6 Dallas Cowboys

Wild-Card Round:

#6 Baltimore beats #3 Houston
#5 Jacksonville beats #4 Oakland

#3 Atlanta beats #6 Dallas
#5 Green Bay beats #4 San Francisco

Divisional Round:

#1 Pittsburgh beats #6 Baltimore
#2 New England beats #5 Jacksonville

#1 Philadelphia beats #5 Green Bay
#2 Minnesota veats #3 Atlanta

Conference Championships:

#2 New England beats #1 Pittsburgh

#2 Minnesota beats #1 Philadelphia

Super Bowl LIII:

Minnesota 30, New England 27 (MVP: Kirk Cousins)

MVP: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Josh Jackson, Green Bay Packers
Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Comeback Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

And there you have it. I’ve only gotten the Super Bowl champion right once since I started doing this in 2008. I’ve only gotten two Super Bowl teams right. So if I didn’t pick your team, you’re in great shape!

My thoughts on Super Bowl LII

Super Bowl LII

What a game. Here are my quick thoughts on Super Bowl LII:

  • This very well may have been the greatest football game ever played. The most yards of any game in NFL history, and very few mistakes. The two turnovers were just fantastic defensive plays. Plus the replays didn’t overturn the calls on the field. It was about as good as a game as you could ask for.
  • Tom Brady in defeat cemented his position as the greatest quarterback ever. He threw for over 500 yards in a Super Bowl. That is nuts, given that through the first 33 Super Bowls, no one had thrown for more than 400.
  • Aaron Rodgers completes that Hail Mary at the end of the game, though. I just know he would.
  • The Patriots now have 5 Super Bowl wins and 5 Super Bowl losses. The latter ties a record with the Denver Broncos.
  • The NFC East is the first division to get all four teams to win a Super Bowl. The former NFC East, with the Cardinals included, still wouldn’t get that honor, however.
  • This is the new NFL. Pass on every play, and just keep scoring and scoring. Don’t be surprised if next year these records from this game end up being shattered yet again.
  • My money’s on New England winning Super Bowl LIII.