Predicting the 2018 NFL Playoffs

After the Whistle’s football focus continues as the playoffs are set. The main surprise story is the Buffalo Bills, who punched their ticket via the Bengals upset of the Ravens. Here are my NFL playoff predictions.

AFC wild card round

(3) Jaguars over (6) Bills

The tale will end for Buffalo. Jacksonville’s elite defense and surprisingly competent offense will carry the Jaguars through to the divisional round.

(4) Chiefs over (5) Titans

Tennessee’s defense has had trouble against multidimensional offenses, and a Chiefs attack led by Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt is a test. Marcus Mariota’s first playoff game will end in defeat.

NFC wild card round

(3) Rams over (6) Falcons

Playoff experience will keep the Falcons close, but another blown lead will end in disaster as the Rams win a high-scoring shootout.

(5) Panthers over (4) Saints

Noticing a pattern? Carolina’s elite defense will defeat the dynamic Saints offense, and the Panthers will head to the divisional round.

Divisional round

(1) Patriots over (4) Chiefs

Andy Reid’s terrible late-game management won’t come into play here, as New England is superior to Kansas City on both sides of the ball.

(3) Jaguars over (2) SteelersĀ 

Surprised? The Jags will pull the upset, as Pittsburgh’s offensive line can’t keep out the “Sacksonville” D-line. Blake Bortles’ competent play will be enough to supplant a terrific running game.

(2) Vikings over (3) Rams

Disclaimer: I’m a die-hard Vikings fan.

We’re not far removed from the Vikings’ 24-7 blowout of the Rams, and Jared Goff is in for another’s rough outing against the league’s best defensive unit. On the other side of the ball, Case Keenum will lead the charge as Adam Thielen goes for over 100 yards.

(5) Panthers over (1) Eagles

Philly’s offense has been downright awful since Carson Wentz tore his ACL, and the Panthers have no such qualms. The Packers, Eagles, and Dolphins won’t stop complaining about their QB injury problems. Whereas the Vikings’ former third-stringer is an MVP candidate.

Conference championship games

(1) Patriots over (3) Jaguars

Tom Brady is heading back to the Super Bowl. Suspect Blake Bortles will finally get found out against the Pats’ experienced defense, and New England’s explosive offense will power them through.

(2) Vikings over (5) Panthers

Carolina won’t beat Minnesota twice, and Cam Newton has a way of folding in NFC Championship games. SKOL Vikes!

*Bashes autocorrect for autocorrecting to Sam Vokes*

SUPER BOWL!!!

Vikings over Patriots

The Vikings fan I am, of course I find reasons for Minnesota to win it all.

New England’s suspect secondary won’t be able to keep up with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, and the Patriots’ last-minute comeback will fall short. Harrison Smith picks off Tom Brady to seal a thrilling 27-24 victory.

 

So how did I do? Do you disagree? Post your picks in the comments!

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NFL Preview Part I: AFC East

This division is not as clear-cut as you think.

Welcome to After the Whistle’s annual preview of the NFL. A quick note: I like to post my previews between week 1-2 of the season, as it rises above all the other, more famous sites that post theirs weeks before. On that note, on to the AFC East!

Let’s start this easy and examine two teams. In the last 11 games of the 2016 season, Team A rushed for 132.9 yards per game, 20 more than Team B. Team A allowed the third fewest sacks in the league, while Team B was 12th. Team A also had the third best turnover differential in football.

Team A is the Miami Dolphins.

Team B is the champion New England Patriots.

Surprised? The Dolphins were sneaky good last year. They made the playoffs in a loaded conference behind running back Jay Ajayi’s three 200+ yard games. The Patriots have only won in Miami once since 2012, and this Dolphins team is loaded. Jarvis Landry headlines a star-studded receiving corps, Ajayi is still around, Cameron Wake leads the D-line, and Reshad Jones stars in one of the best secondaries in football.

It won’t be enough. New England won the Super Bowl last year, and got better. The additions of Stephon Gilmore and Mike Gillislee add nice depth at corner and tailback, respectively. Brandin Cooks gives Tom Brady a tantalizing deep ball target, and they didn’t lose anybody! The Patriots should win the division, and they and Miami should mop the floor with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

This year is going to be a blast. Part II of ATW’s NFL preview will be out later today!