With week 17 in the books, the teams for the 2018 Playoffs are set. The NFC is full of teams with at least 11 wins while the AFC was a race to the end for the bottom seeds. The Buffalo Bills cliched the sixth seed after their win and Baltimore’s heartbreaking loss to Cincinnati. The Tennessee Titans cliched the 5th seed with their win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This year was full of surprises, as 8 of the 12 teams in the playoffs this year were not in the playoffs last year. The biggest surprise, in my opinion, would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, turning a 3-13 season in 2016 into a 10-6 season and a division title in 2017. The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, the usual suspects of the AFC, have punched their tickets to the postseason as the number 1 and 2 seeds respectively, and the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings represent the NFC as the top 2 seeds. Below I have made my predictions on who will advance and ultimately be the NFL champion. Let’s take a look:
My predictions for the 2018 playoffs:
WILD CARD ROUND:
Bills vs. Jaguars:
This will be a blowout. Leonard Fournette, Blake Bortles, and the Jacksonville Defense will take advantage of LeSean McCoy’s recent ankle injury and get going early and will not look back.
Titans vs. Chiefs:
This will be an all-out quarterback duel between Alex Smith and Marcus Mariota. The game will be decided by a field goal or less, and Tennessee will prevail.
Rams vs. Falcons:
Todd Gurley will continue his MVP campaign against the Falcons, letting the jets fly early. Jared Goff will also perform admirably, controlling the passing game and picking apart the Falcons’ defense.
Saints vs. Panthers:
This game will be close, much like Tennessee vs. Kansas City, but the point margin will be a touchdown. The Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram tandem will overpower the Carolina Defense, and Cam Newton will control his own postseason destiny, but will come up short.
Patriots vs. Titans:
The Patriots, coming off a first-round bye will be well rested and well prepared. Their defense, with the addition of James Harrison, will contain the Tennessee run game and force Marcus Mariota to throw the football, which no quarterback can solely rely on.
Jaguars vs. Steelers:
Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and the strong Pittsburgh receiving core will beat the Jacksonville Jaguars decisively, leaving them in the dust with nothing left but the jerseys on their backs. The Steelers will show out for their fallen teammate Ryan Shazier
Saints vs. Eagles:
The dominant Eagles, who suffered the loss of their captain Carson Wentz, will have their playoff aspirations come up short when they lose to the Saints. The Eagles will underperform, as they will see the run game come up short, and Alshon Jeffery being shut down by the New Orleans secondary.
Rams vs. Vikings:
Jared Goff will shine against the Vikings, keeping up with their surging hot streak. The Rams will narrowly defeat the Vikings, but get the win nonetheless. Both defenses will contain their opponents fairly, and the game will remain close the whole time, but I see Los Angeles on top.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND:
Steelers vs. Patriots:
Much like the week 15 matchup between New England and Pittsburgh, this game will come down to the wire, and will be won by the New England Patriots. Tom Brady will prove to the world that he is still the best by using his weapons (Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks, and Rob Gronkowski) to take down the Steelers.
Saints vs. Rams:
Two Words: Todd. Gurley. I know I’ve been saying that he will lead the Rams a lot, but in this matchup, he will seal the deal for his MVP season. The Los Angeles offense will stun New Orleans and send the Rams to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1999 season.
Patriots vs. Rams:
Imagine this: Super Bowl 36 becomes Super Bowl 52. Jared Goff is Kurt Warner, Todd Gurley is Marshall Faulk. Tom Brady? Still Tom Brady. The Patriots will have the lead for the most of the time and the Rams will give Tom Brady a run for his money, but at the end of the day the New England dynasty continues and Tom Brady will have to put his sixth ring on his other hand.