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) Steelers 

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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2018 NFL Draft Order and Analysis

The NFL playoffs may be shaping up, but the draft order is another unknown today’s games will solve. After the Whistle takes you through the order and the remaining spots up for grabs. This post will be updated live as results come in.

Confirmed picks 

1. Browns

2. Giants

3. Colts

4. Browns (via the Deshaun Watson trade with the Texans)

5. Broncos

6. Jets

7. Bucs

8. Bears

9-10. Raiders and 49ers (decided by coin flip!)

11. Dolphins

12. Bengals

13. Redskins

14. Packers

15. Cardinals

16. Ravens

17. Chargers

18. Seahawks

19. Cowboys

20. Lions

 

The current draft order is here.

Updates will appear below (all times CT). . .

3:25 

The late games have started. Buckle up. It will be a wild ride.

3:54

The 49ers have jumped out to a 10-3 lead against the Rams. A loss could push San Francisco no higher than fifth, while a win could drop them all the way to 11th.

4:08

The Dolphins trail the Bills 10-0, and face a tough 3rd and 5 deep in their own territory. Miami seems locked in to the 12th pick, as the only scenarios that would interrupt this are unlikely:

1. MIA loss + CIN or OAK win (Dolphins move up to #11, and #10 if both win)

OR

2. MIA win + ARZ loss (Dolphins move down to #13 due to strength of schedule)

4:12

The Cardinals just scored another touchdown to put themselves up 17-7 against the Seahawks. Arizona is dead-set on knocking Seattle out of playoff contention.

5:40

Here’s a rundown of the scores currently, with each non-Playoff team’s highest possible pick listed first and their lowest possible pick listed last.

Titans 15-3 Jaguars. . . Jacksonville is locked into the 3-seed in the AFC, while Tennessee is win-and-in.

Bills 22-3 Dolphins. . . Miami’s pick range is 10-13.

Bengals 24-17 Ravens. . . CIN pick range is 6-13, and they’re messing it up!

Chargers 30-10 Raiders. . . OAK pick range is 7-13. If you’re wondering about all the 13s, it’s because 5-15 is a jumbled mess.

5:47

Cardinals 23-14 Seahawks. . . Seattle will pick 16 or 17 if Arizona closes this out.

49ers 34-6 Rams. . . San Francisco is going to knock off LA and pick between ninth and 11th.

Falcons 16-7 Panthers. . . It looks like the NFC South will get three playoff teams. Not sorry, Seahawks. 😀

Chiefs 24-10 Broncos. . . Finally someone doesn’t mess up their draft stock! Barring an improbable comeback, Denver will pick fifth if Tampa Bay wins, but will slide to sixth if the Bucs lose.

Bucs 20-17 Saints. . . The Broncos are pleased. Tampa Bay will pick #5 with a loss and #8 with a win, due to strength of schedule. Thanks, NFC South.

5:56

Hold everything. Drew Brees connects with former Viking Zach Line to put the Saints up 24-20. As it stands, New Orleans will grab the NFC’s 3-seed and Tampa will pick #5 in the draft.

6:03

On a similar note, Blair Walsh drains a 49-yard field goal to shrink the Cardinals’ lead to 6. It’s 23-17 in the fourth. However, the Falcons have the ball with a six-point advantage over Carolina. The Seahawks’ playoff hopes are dwindling.

6:14

Wow, Seahawks. Russell Wilson goes deep to Doug Baldwin to pull Seattle in front, 24-23. Elsewhere, the Bucs pull within 1 of the Saints, also 24-23.

6:20

Haha. The Broncos have come back from two scores down to tie the Chiefs at 24. Elsewhere, a 13-yard scramble on 3rd and 5 by Marcus Mariota might have won the Titans a trip to the playoffs. Tennessee leads the Jaguars 15-10.

6:28

The Niners and Chargers have wrapped up blowout wins, while the Falcons extend their lead to 12. Football.

6:49

The Bills hold off a late Dolphins comeback, while the Falcons kept their lead at 12 all the way through a domination of the Panthers. The Titans, Chiefs, and Cardinals all finished off close wins, and the Bucs pulled off a massive 31-24 upset of the Saints. Week 17 was fun. Oh, and Blair Walsh shanked a potential game-winning kick again.

6:56

Movement in the draft! Picks 1-8 are confirmed, still pending Bengals-Ravens. The Bucs’ win over the Saints reduced their strength of schedule by four thousandths, which is enough to lift Tampa Bay into the #7 pick ahead of the Bears.

7:01

Bedlam in Baltimore! Trailing 27-24, Andy Dalton launches a 49-yard howitzer to Tyler Boyd, knocking the Ravens out of the playoffs and giving the Buffalo Bills the #6 seed.

7:18

With that, the top 20 picks in the 2018 NFL draft are confirmed. On to the playoffs! It should be a wild ride.

Playoff Scenarios for the Minnesota Vikings

Two weeks remain in the NFL’s regular season, and the playoffs are taking shape. After the Whistle details the Vikings’ every scenario, while not pointing out the Packers’ elimination. Whoops.

#1 seed scenarios

Just one possibility remains for Minnesota to get home-field advantage through the playoffs.

  • Eagles lose out (against the Raiders and Cowboys) AND Vikings win out (Packers, Bears)

 

#2 seed scenarios

This one seems like the Vikings’ most likely spot. A head-to-head sweep of the Rams and Saints gives Minnesota every tiebreaker if the current division winners hold, and the Falcons would lose the conference record tiebreaker. Carolina is the only team holding a tiebreaker advantage, but the Panthers are unlikely to win the South.

The follwing ensures Minnesota of at least a first round bye.

  • Vikings win out
  • Vikings win one of two AND a 12-4 Carolina doesn’t win the NFC South
  • Rams and Saints lose one of two AND a 12-4 Carolina doesn’t win the South

 

#3 seed

A finish depriving Minnesota of a bye would be a shock, but it could happen if one of these happens.

  • Vikings win one of two AND a 12-4 Carolina wins the NFC South
  • Vikings lose out AND Panthers win out
  • Vikings lose out AND Saints win out
  • Vikings lose out AND Rams win out
  • Vikings lose out AND an 11-5 Falcons win the South AND Rams finish 11-5 to give us weird tiebreakers that aren’t clear yet.

Saints Meet Falcons In Pivotal NFC Matchup

Photo source: CBS Sports

Two playoff hopefuls collide as the 9-3 Saints visit the 7-5 Falcons. New Orleans is a threat in the NFC for the first time since Bountygate and the game-that-shall-not-be-named. Behind a running game of Mark Ingram and sensational rookie Alvin Kamara, (pictured above) Drew Brees doesn’t have to carry the Saints anymore. Marshon Lattimore has come in and mobilized a suddenly decent secondary, but they’ll have their hands full.

Julio Jones was contained by Xavier Rhodes in the Falcons’ five point loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week. In fairness, Rhodes has shut down Jones some other games. . . try every time. The Vikings are a Super Bowl contender, (it feels so good to say that!) and Atlanta won’t be penalized for dropping that one. Matt Ryan and the offense need to put up more than nine points against New Orleans, and the defense will need to limit the Saints. Good luck with the latter.

Thursday Night Football will be entertaining, (there’s a first) and showcase two likely  playoff teams. (also a first on TNF) The Saints seem to have enough offensive firepower to get past the Falcons in Atlanta.

 

Yes, the image at the top is of Alvin Kamara at Tennessee, because trolling.

Playoff Push Picks Week 12

The Playoff Push Prediction League returns after a one week hiatus, with new standings. Find those here:

Owen Riley, After the Whistle—40

Joel Deering, Fourth Quarter Sports—34

Baron Carter, After the Whistle—31

On to the picks!

Vikings over Lions (lock)

Adam Thielen is probably going to be the first Vikings receiver over 1000 yards in a season since Sidney Rice. The Minnesota State alum highlights a star-studded receiving corps for MVP candidate Case Keenum(!) to shred the Lions with.

Chargers over Cowboys (upset)

Two fringe playoff teams meet, and Joey Bosa is primed for a breakout. The Defensive Player of the Year candidate will get after Dak Prescott, and star left tackle Tyron Smith is hobbled up. Give this one to LA.

Redskins over Giants

The McAdoo supporters won traction in New York’s surprising upset win over Kansas City last week. It won’t continue, as Kirk Cousins has been the NFC’s third-best quarterback of late. D.J. Swearinger has emerged as a terrific corner opposite Josh Norman.

Bengals over Browns

Are we debating this?

Panthers over Jets

As much as I would love to see Carolina fall out of first round bye contention, the Panthers are just stacked across the board in comparison to Josh McCown, Bilal Powell, and Robby Anderson.

Titans over Colts

Falcons over Bucs

Patriots over Dolphins

Eagles over Bears

Seahawks over 49ers

Cool! Free points!

Chiefs over Bills

Buffalo’s quarterback situation is. . . unfortunate, to say the least. Tyrod Taylor was benched for rookie Nathan Peterman, who then threw five interceptions in the first half. Anybody have the Chiefs defense in fantasy?

Raiders over Broncos

Neither of these teams is trying to win the wide-open AFC West, but Oakland is slightly less dysfunctional than their elevated counterparts.

Saints over Rams (marquee matchup)

New Orleans’ run offense and passing defense are the keys to defeating a rattled Rams team. Alvin Kamara’s contributions to the air attack will prove key for the Saints.

Jaguars over Cardinals 

Blaine Gabbert will not put up many points on the #1 scoring defense in the league. It won’t happen.

Steelers over Packers

Brett Hundley’s inexperience is evident, as the Packers have lost four of five including last week’s 23-0 shutout against the Ravens. The 8-2 Steelers should be more concerned with a looming matchup in New England.

Ravens over Texans

Baltimore will expand its playoff hopes with an easy win over the Tom Savage-led Texans, a unit appearing lifeless since Deshaun Watson went down.

 

That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave a like and let me know where I picked wrong in the comments below.

Projecting the Race for the NFL Playoffs

The Browns are not in this post.

Week 11 of the NFL has concluded, and it’s time to look ahead to the race for the playoffs. Some teams are enjoying terrific seasons with Super Bowl aspirations, but some have fallen out of the race. For the Browns and Giants, look away. For The Eagles and Vikings, here goes.

AFC

1. New England Patriots (13-3)

The Patriots will play the Steelers on December 17th with home field advantage at stake. New England’s defense will be good enough to allow the high-powered offense to go to work and claim the #1 seed.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (12-4)

Remember Week 5, when the Jags dismantled the Steelers 30-9? The head-to-head is crucial, as I project both Jacksonville and Pittsburgh to finish 12-4.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

The runaway AFC North champions may be #1 right now, but Pittsburgh can’t stay with New England, and the Jaguars’ easy schedule makes it difficult for the Steelers to earn a first round bye.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

Recall when KC was 5-0. Then the Chiefs lost four of five to arrive at 6-4. Their division-heavy last six will produce some slip-ups, but Kansas City will get to 10-6 and another division title.

5. Tennessee Titans (10-6)

Tennessee faces an easy schedule up until a brutal two games to end the season, against the Rams and Jaguars. The Titans’ current momentum will carry them to ten wins in a season devoid of AFC contenders.

6. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

Sitting at .500, the Ravens will face a division-heavy schedule down the stretch in the AFC North. Games against the Lions and Steelers will be tough, but Baltimore will win everything else.

NFC

1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

The Eagles sit at 9-1, the sole blemish against the Chiefs, when the Chiefs were on top of the league. The NFC is loaded this year, and now Philadelphia sits at the top.

2. Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

The Vikings and Rams played a crucial game with first round bye implications, and Minnesota dominated. Case Keenum is an MVP candidate, and the Vikings have won six straight. The upcoming stretch against the Lions, Panthers, and Falcons will define Minnesota’s season.

3. New Orleans Saints (12-4) 

The Saints’ rushing attack is suddenly incredible behind Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. The defense is a top ten unit with rookie Marshon Lattimore. New Orleans faces a critical test against the Rams that will decide the third seed.

4. Los Angeles Rams (10-6)

If the Rams beat the Saints on Sunday, each team’s projection changes to 11-5. Jared Goff is a decent NFL quarterback, and a Todd Gurley leads a good offense. Of course D-tackle Aaron Donald gets a mention as a DPOY candidate.

5. Carolina Panthers (11-5)

Cam Newton’s formidable offense and Luke Kuechly’s impregnable defense combine to form an incredible Panthers team. A division-heavy remaining schedule will be difficult in the NFC South, but Carolina will push New Orleans all year long.

6. Atlanta Falcons (10-6) 

That controversial win over the Lions pays dividends now, doesn’t it. I project both teams to finish 10-6, but Atlanta’s head-to-head win puts the Falcons in the playoffs.

Playoff Push Picks Week 10

It’s going to be a boring article today. The team is working on some college basketball previews, so I’m placing Baron’s picks in here with mine. It’ll be a quick, short article with little explanation. I promise next week will be more interesting.

 

Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Baron: Seahawks

Owen: Seahawks

 

Jets vs. Bucs

Owen: Jets (upset!)

Baron: Bucs

 

Saints vs. Bills

Owen: Saints

Baron: Saints

 

Browns vs. Lions

Owen: Lions

Baron: Lions

 

Bengals vs. Titans

Owen: Bengals

Baron: Bengals

 

Packers vs. Bears

Owen: Bears

Baron: Packers

 

Chargers vs. Jaguars

Both: Jaguars

 

Vikings vs. Redskins

Both: Vikings

 

Steelers vs. Colts

Owen: Steelers

Baron: Steelers (lock)

 

Rams vs. Texans

Owen: Rams (lock)

Baron: Rams

 

Giants vs. 49ers

Both: 49ers

 

Cowboys vs. Falcons (marquee matchup) 

Both: Falcons

 

Patriots vs. Broncos

Owen: Patriots

Baron: Broncos (upset)

 

Dolphins vs. Panthers

Both: Panthers