Bold Predictions for the NFL Playoffs
The NFL season is officially more than half over, so it’s time to make some bold NFL playoff predictions.
1. The Super Bowl Champion Will Be From The AFC
At the league’s halfway point, the teams with the three best records in the NFL all hail from the AFC. The Pittsburgh Steelers (+850) are undefeated, the Buffalo Bills (+2500) are having their best season since the early 1990s, and, of course, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs (+370) led by MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes, are still pretty serious favorites to repeat. Even a team like the Tennessee Titans have a record to match any team in the NFC. Throw in the Baltimore Ravens, with reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, and the odds of a futures bet for an AFC team winning it all again seem extremely high.
2. No NFC Team Will Finish The Season Better Than 12-4
Right now, the New Orleans Saints (+1600) and the Green Bay Packers (+1000) have the two best records in the NFC, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+900) actually have the lowest odds to make the Super Bowl out of the NFC. All three teams already have at least two losses and have relatively difficult schedules the rest of the way, especially the Saints, who have an exhausting three-game road-trip in November, then come home to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
3. Three Teams From The NFC West Will Make The Playoffs
Without a doubt, the best division in the NFL is the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona Cardinals all appear to be headed to the postseason. Russell Wilson is having the most explosive season by a QB in NFL history, while for Arizona, Kyler Murray has developed into a superstar, and the Rams have arguably the best defense in the NFL, led by the already-immortal Aaron Donald. Quite honestly, if the San Francisco 49ers weren’t beset with injuries, all four NFC West teams might have made the playoffs, under the league’s new seven-team per conference postseason format. But, making the playoffs isn’t enough in the NFC West, all three teams will win at least one playoff game.
4. A Team With 6 Wins Will Win The NFC East
The Philadelphia Eagles led the NFC East at 3-4-1 at the halfway point, while the rest of the divisions each sat on two wins. The back end of Philadelphia’s schedule features an impossible four-game stretch of Seattle, @ Green Bay, New Orleans, and @ Arizona. The Eagles could very well end that stretch with just four or five wins, but could still lock up a playoff spot by ending with wins against division foes Washington and Dallas. Don’t be shocked if a 6-9-1 Eagles team makes the playoffs, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to win a playoff game, against say, the 11-5 Bucs. The last NFL team to make the postseason with a losing record, the 2010 Seattle Seahawks who ended the season 7-9, stunned the New Orleans Saints in the famous Beast Quake game. Want to place an NFL future bet on an NFC East team to win it all? The Eagles Super Bowl odds are +5000, while Washington, which is still alive, is a whopping +50000.
5. The New England Patriots Will Miss The Playoffs For The First Time Since 2008
Okay, so as far as NFL predictions go, this isn’t so bold anymore, but it still looks shocking to see on paper. The Patriots last missed the postseason in 2008, when Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1, and the Patriots last had a losing record way back in 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season in New England. That streak looks to end this year as well, as Cam Newton has not returned from his COVID absence at the same level as he started the season, while the rest of the team has been decimated by opt-outs, injuries, and years of mediocre drafting.
6. The Steelers First, AND ONLY, Loss Will Come on Thanksgiving Night
The Pittsburgh Steelers made it through the first half of the season undefeated and the back half of their schedule still includes games against Washington, Jacksonville, and a pair of games against the AFC North cellar-dweller Cincinnati Bengals. There simply aren’t many opportunities left for the Steelers to lose a game before the postseason. The primary hurdle in Pittsburgh’s quest for 16-0 will be Thanksgiving night against their hated rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. While the Steelers beat the Ravens 28-24 in Week 8, the Ravens outplayed Pittsburgh and will exact revenge in front of the football world as everyone digests their turkey on Thanksgiving night.
7. Tua Tagovailoa Will Lead The Dolphins To Their First Playoff Win In 20 Years
While precocious rookie quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are putting up excellent first seasons for last-place teams, Tua is just beginning to play for a young Miami Dolphins team that appears to be getting better every week. Tua may not be putting up the gaudy numbers of his fellow rookies, but he is going to lead his team into the postseason, and it says here that Miami will win their first playoff game since the 2000 season. How old was Tagovailoa the last time the Dolphins won a playoff game? He was two years old when Miami beat the Colts in overtime in December 2000.
8. This Will Be The Final Postseason For Tom Brady
Tom Brady’s first season in Tampa Bay has gone better than almost anyone could have possibly expected. The 43-year-old Brady has been playing at a Pro Bowl level and his Buccaneers are playing their best defense since they won the Super Bowl twenty years ago. But the past few seasons, age has caught up to Brady as the season wears on, and Brady, the oldest man in the NFL, is already starting to look his age. Regardless of whether Tampa loses their first playoff game or wins the Super Bowl, by succeeding outside of New England, particularly during a season where his former New England Patriots have struggled so mightily, Brady has erased the doubts of all of his critics for the final time.
9. The Green Bay Packers Will Make The Super Bowl
While the Saints and Bucs battle for NFC South supremacy, and there’s a three-way battle for the top in the NFC West, the Green Bay Packers (+1000) look like they will cruise to the NFC North title. That should also be good enough for the top seed in the NFC playoffs, the only spot which guarantees you a bye, to say nothing of home-field advantage going through Lambeau Field. This means Aaron Rodgers will be fresh for a postseason where two of his biggest rivals are over 40 years old. Ten years after winning his first Super Bowl, Rodgers and the Packers will be headed for the big game again.
10. The Chiefs Will Repeat As Super Bowl Champions
No team has won back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 New England Patriots, but the Kansas City Chiefs (+370) look poised to win it all this season. Patrick Mahomes has followed up a Super Bowl MVP performance by opening the season with a truly video game-style stat line of 25 touchdowns versus one interception. While the Chiefs defense still needs some work, no lead is safe against Kansas City’s offense, which appears to be absolutely unstoppable, averaging barely 32 points per game. The Steelers and Ravens are likely to have to face each other in the divisional round of the playoffs, meaning the Chiefs will only have to beat one of them to advance back to the Super Bowl. Mark it down, the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl over the Packers, and Patrick Mahomes will become only the third player ever, and first since Terry Bradshaw, to win back-to-back Super Bowl MVPs.