NFL Championship Sunday predictions

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski
Photo by Steven Senne/AP

Jaguars @ Patriots

No one really knows what’s going on with Brady’s hand and there is no reason to believe Belichick doesn’t have whatever magic it might take to get Brian Hoyer to win and AFC Championship game. I think people make too much of Tom Coughlin’s influence on the Jaguars and how it might mean they’ll beat the Patriots like the Giants have in the past. That said, are Blake Bortles and Eli Manning that much different? So, just for fun, I’m going to buy the Jaguars hype, believe Brady is actually hurt, and assume Hoyer is just as bad on the Pat’s roster as he has been since he left the team… and predict that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be going to Super Bowl 52.

Prediction: Jaguars win

 

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Photo by Mark Zaleski/AP

Vikings @ Eagles

Well, I didn’t trust Case Keenum nor Nick Foles to win last weekend and they both did. I guess I trust Keenum more. The Eagles’ defense seems to play better at home and if they can keep the Vikings under 20 points, they might be able to pull this off. That said, I still think Keenum having so much confidence and a whole season of experience with this team and coaching staff will make a difference. I think the Vikings win, but only if they can put points on the board. If the Eagles can make it an ugly game, it’s theirs.

Prediction: Vikings win

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NFL Divisional Playoffs Predictions

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Photo by Eric Hartline – USA Today

Falcons @ Eagles

It’s almost impossible to trust the Falcons to win a playoff game, but it’s somehow even harder to trust Nick Foles to win a playoff game. The Falcons should win this one, the Eagles defense seemed to decline towards the end of the season and Nick Foles just couldn’t run the offense effectively. The Falcons SHOULD have confidence after than win over the Rams and have the more talented Quarterback. But, they’re the Falcons, so they could find a way to blow this. My guess is that they don’t do that just yet though.

Prediction: Falcons win

 

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Photo by David Butler II – USA Today

Titans @ Patriots

The Titans don’t have a chance in hell, but after Mariota’s performance last week, I expect them to put up a good fight. But, there’s not much mystery as to who wins this one.

Prediction: Patriots win

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Photo by Phillip G. Pavely / USA Today

Jaguars @ Steelers

The Jaguars annihilated the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 5, but their performance against the Bills, especially Bortles’, shouldn’t inspire much confidence. I think the Jags have a shot if Bortles plays like he did at his peak in the middle of the season and Antonio Brown isn’t quite himself. But, the Steelers’ offense, even against the Jag’s excellent defense, will probably score too much for the Jaguars to keep up.

Prediction: Steelers win

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Photo by Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press

Saints @ Vikings

The Vikings beat the Saints at home in Week 1, but that was Week 1 and since then Sam Bradford got injured and now the Vikings are starting Case Keenum. Also since then, Alvin Kamara has had a breakout year (as has the Vikings’ Adam Thielen). Either way, it’s hard to know if the result will be the same and Drew Brees has had a few monster games this season that make me feel like he’ll be able to turn it up in a playoff game in a way that Case Keenum won’t.

Prediction: Saints win

NFL 2016 Season Predictions

2016 NFL Predictions

Bay Area Teams

First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:

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Oakland Raiders: 11-5

This may be wishful thinking, but, I really think the Raiders win their division this year. I think last year was a fluke for the Chiefs and while the Broncos were able to win with their defense last year, I just don’t see there defense being one of the all-time greats this year and able to make up for their awful quarterback situation. The schedule also helps, with games against the NFC South and AFC South, they have an opportunity to feast on the one mostly-terrible division, and one probably-totally terrible division, respectively.

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San Francisco 49ers: 6-10

Again, likely wishful thinking. I don’t think Chip Kelly is a great coach, but I know he’s better than Jim Tomsula. Similarly, I don’t know if Colin Kaepernick is a great quarterback, but I know he’s better than Blaine Gabbert. At some point, Chip will have to put Gabbert back on the bench. It may take more time than it would’ve due to Kaepernick’s recent decision to kneel during the national anthem, but if Chip, along with Trent Baalke, want to keep their jobs, at some point they’ll put winning first. They have a pretty balanced schedule with tougher games in both the second and first half of the season (mostly a product of their division, as well as the two divisions they play against, the NFC South and AFC East, being very top heavy). If Kelly waits until the bye week to make a decision on Kaepernick, he puts them in a better position to win against the Saints, Dolphins, Bears, Falcons, and their second game against the Rams.

Division Winners

AFC

AFC East

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New England Patriots

I have no idea if Jimmy Garoppolo is good. But we’ve seen this team go 11-5 with Matt Cassel. If Rob Gronkowski stays healthy, they probably go 2-2 with Jimmy, they’ll likely lose their first game (to the Cardinals) and possibly their 3rd or 4th to the Texans and Bills, respectively. But I don’t see anyone else in this division going more than 9-7, so the Patriots getting 2 out of Jimmy and get at least 8 wins out of their 12 other games. The Bills might make it interesting, but probably not.

AFC North

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Cincinnati Bengals

If Andy Dalton doesn’t get hurt and Vontaze Burfict doesn’t have a bizarre meltdown, I think the Bengals make the Superbowl last year. I know Andy Dalton doesn’t have a great track record during big games, but he was great last year, and this roster is one of the most talented in the NFL. Obviously, the Steelers have a great chance to win this division too, but I’m inclined to go with the Bengals because I trust their defense more.

AFC South

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Jacksonville Jaguars

I could be convinced that any team could win this division, really. The Titans seem like the least likely team to win it, but who knows, maybe Marcus Mariota has an unbelievable year and 9 wins will probably be enough for this division. The Colts seem like the most logical, but I worry about Andrew Luck staying healthy and consistent. The Texans might win it again, but JJ Watt‘s health is questionable and we don’t know if Brock Osweiler is actually good. So, all things considered, I like what the Jaguars have done with their defense and adding Chris Ivory means Blake Bortles has someone else to work with on offense. I hope they Steal The Show.

AFC West

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Oakland Raiders

I said a bunch about this above, but yeah, Chiefs seem like the only other team that could win this division, but I think they’ll regress to the mean this year. The Raiders look good, but we’ll see.

NFC

NFC East

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New York Giants

This is a similar situation to the AFC South. One of these teams has to win, and it’ll probably be another 8 or 9 win team. The Eagles and Cowboys don’t have much of a chance due to their quarterback issues. Washington could repeat, but I don’t anticipate Kirk Cousins improving, but with a soft schedule, it’s certainly possible. It’s mostly a toss-up between the Giants and Washington, but I’ll trust an offense with Eli and OBJ over Cousins with anybody.

NFC North

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Green Bay Packers

The Lions won’t have Megatron. The Bears don’t look to be improved. The Vikings seemed like they might have a chance to repeat, and they still might, but those chances seem significantly less likely with Teddy Bridgewater out for the season. Jordy Nelson is back and Eddie Lacy is in shape. If Aaron Rodgers is himself, the Packers should win this division with a solid lead.

NFC South

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Carolina Panthers

Every other team in this division is trash. The Buccaneers will be good in a few years, the Falcons need a decent quarterback, the Saints need somebody other than Drew Brees. The Panthers probably won’t go 15-1 and they did lose Josh Norman, but getting Kelvin Benjamin back means they’ll probably still be a better team. No doubt in my mind they win this division.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

I want to pick the Cardinals here, but for some reason, I just can’t. The Seahawks might come out to another slow start and be a Wild Card team again, but I have a feeling they’ll be dominant all year. I would not be surprised if both the Cardinals and Seahawks are undefeated by the time they play each-other in Week 7. If Russell Wilson can produce all season like he did in the second half of last season, I think 13 or 14 wins for Seattle is totally possible. The Cardinals will probably be right there with them, but I think Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald won’t be quite as good as they were last year.

Conference Champions

AFC Champion

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Cincinnati Bengals

Logically, the Pats are the choice, but I just wanna pick the Bengals.

NFC Champion

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Carolina Panthers

Tough to decide between the Panthers and the Seahawks, but I think the Panthers will be even better prepared for a deep playoff run this year.

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Superbowl Champion

 

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Carolina Panthers

I think they’ll get it done this time. If they end up playing the Patriots, I’ll be a little less sure, but I’d still bet on the Panthers.

NFL Wildcard Weekend Predictions

NFL 2015 Season Wildcard Weekend

WildCard

(Stats from pro-football-reference.com)

AFC Matchups

ScottHalleran-Getty
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans

Saturday January 9 at 1:35pm PST (4:35pm EST)

Both of these teams got off to pretty rough starts this season. The Chiefs went 1-5 and lost running back Jamaal Charles, who many would consider their best player, to a season-ending torn ACL. The Texans had a 1-4 start and have a number of quarterback issues throughout the season. Since their respective starts, the Chiefs have won 10 in a row and the Texans have gone 8-3. I would love to see Alex Smith make a deep playoff run after taking the 49ers to an NFC Championship game four years ago and Andy Reid get a chance at another Superbowl after taking the Eagles to Superbowl XXIX. That said, Hard Knocks had me rooting for the Texans this season (despite JJ Watt becoming almost insufferable). I think DeAndre Hopkins is one of the most exciting receivers in the NFL and it will be great to see him in a playoff game. But, the bottom line is the Chiefs are the better team. Despite Alex Smith and Andy Reid not always being reliable, I think they have proven that they have something special this year, and I see them taking this to the next round.

Prediction: Chiefs win

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Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Saturday January 9 at 5:15pm PST (8:15pm EST)

A lot of this depends on whether or not Andy Dalton can play, and if he can play with a busted thumb. As of right now, AJ McCarron is starting. If that’s the case, I don’t see how the Bengals can beat the Steelers. To be fair, Andy Dalton has had trouble winning in nationally televised games and playoff games anyway. So far, Dalton is 0-4 in the playoffs with the Bengals. This year, he played in their 11/5/15 Thursday Night Football game against the Browns, which they won, but again, was against the Browns. The Bengals lost both Monday Night Football Games this year. Dalton on ply played in the first on 11/16/15 in Houston. The Bengals were held to 6 points from two field goals. The Bengals split the season series with the Steelers, winning 11/1/15 in Pittsburgh (16-10) and losing 12/13/15 in Cincinnati (33-20), the game in which Dalton was injured. All that is to say, I do not really even need to get into all the advantages that Pittsburgh has; unless Mike Tomlin makes some bizarre decisions that give the game away, the Bengals may not have a chance with or without Andy Dalton.

Prediction: Steelers win

NFC Matchups

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Photo by Stephen Brasher/Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings

Sunday January 10 at 10:05am PST (1:05pm EST)

It’s hard to say if either of these teams really have an impressive win. But, if I had to choose one for Seattle, it might be their only head-to-head matchup with the Vikings this season on 12/6/15. The Seahawks won in a 38-7 blowout. I really want Minnesota to win this, and I think that they can. But, with Seattle getting Marshawn Lynch back, I think they’re in for another win in Minnesota, but I expect this to be a much closer game.

Prediction: Seahawks win

Wesley Hitt-Getty Images
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers @ Washington

Sunday January 10 at 1:40pm PST (4:40pm EST)

Nobody, except the craziest Washington fans could have told you at the beginning of this season, they would expect a Kirk Cousins led Washington team to be favored in a playoff game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Cousins and the Washington NFL team have surprised everyone this year by winning the NFC East for the first time since RGIII‘s rookie season in 2012. That said, Washington is another team that really doesn’t have an impressive win. Their 12/20/15 win against the Bills is their only win against a .500 team this season. The rest of their wins were against losing teams. The Washington NFL team did go 6-2 at home. Nationally televised games might also be an issue for this team. They lost their 9/25/15 Thursday Night Football game against the Giants in New York and their 11/7/15 Monday Night Football game against the Cowboys (the Cowboys‘ only win without Tony Romo this season) at home. However, Washington did win their 12/26/15 Saturday night game in Philadelphia. As surprising as the team in Washington has been, the Packers have been surprising for opposite reasons. After starting 6-0, the packers lost to the Broncos and Panthers, which makes sense considering both teams are the #1 seeds in their respective conferences. But, following those losses, the Packers lost again to the Lions and after a win over the Vikings, lost to the Bears on Thanksgiving. The Packers won 3 in a row, only to end with a blowout loss to the Cardinals and a loss for the NFC North Division title to the Vikings. A loss that saved them from hosting the Seahawks in this round. The Packers’ biggest problem seems to be with their receivers, they’ll be happy to get Jordy Nelson back next season (although their defense isn’t great either). All things considered, I think the Packers can win this in Washington. Despite their losses to bad teams, they’ve beaten a lot of mediocre teams this season ( and even beat the Seahawks early in the season), which is more than I can say for the team in Washington.

Prediction: Packers win