NFL Playoffs: Predicting Playoff Matchups Through Week 6
NFL Playoffs: Predicting Playoff Matchups Through Week 6
It’s hard to believe we’re already in Week 6 of the football season. We’re just over two months from knowing who’s going to be playing for the Super Bowl championship in New Orleans in February. I think the parity is the NFL is at an all-time high.
As of today, only eight teams have a winning record this season. That’s only 25 percent of the league. Three of those nine happen to come in the NFC West. Who would have guessed that prior to this season?
Every week going forward is getting to be must win games. Teams can’t afford to lose too many in a row or they’re going to be left in the dust. It’s going to take a run like the New York Giants had last season to win the Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter what the records are right now rather than just staying afloat and putting yourself in a position to make the playoffs.
Speaking of winning the Super Bowl, only a handful of teams realistically don’t have a shot at winning. I wouldn’t be surprised is 12-15 teams ended up winning the entire thing come February. It’s all about match-ups and execution in the league right now.
These are my 12 teams that are going to make the playoffs after the first six weeks. It’s obviously a shot in the dark for how even the league is this year, but I feel pretty comfortable with this. Obviously there’s going to be some fan bases that are upset as everyone thinks their team is good enough to make the playoffs this year. Reality is they’re not. I’m going to be straightforward here and these are my picks.
AFC Wildcard No. 6 Seed Indianapolis Colts (9-7) vs. AFC East Champion No. 3 Seed New England Patriots (11-5)
It’s going to be an up and down season this year for the Colts. They should hold court at home but struggle on the road. The Colts more than likely will win one lose one then repeat most of the way out. They should get enough wins and set-up a must win game against the Texans in the final game of the season.
Houston has yet to win in Indianapolis and won’t have much to play for as they should have clinched the top seed by then. I think the Colts win their ninth game of the year then and make the playoffs in surprising fashion.
How much damage they do in the playoffs should be limited as they will be the sixth seed and have to play out on the road, but it will be a special season for the team as they’re coming off of the one of the worst season’s in the franchise history and to rebuild and make the playoffs in the same season.
The Patriots aren’t as good as the 11-5 record shows at the end of the season, but they’re schedule and weak division helps them out going forward. The defense is still struggling and the offense is mediocre against good teams.
Luckily for the Patriots good teams are absent on the schedule going forward and I think they can turn this into another 10+ win season. Again, the playoffs are going to be tough for them as all the teams are going to force them to run the ball and stop them on the ground on defense.
The Patriots are going to struggle in the playoffs as I don’t think they can make it to the Super Bowl this season. They will win the division and make the playoffs though.
AFC Wildcard No. 5 Seed Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) vs. AFC North Champion No. 4 Seed Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
The Steelers are going to be like the Colts in that they’re going to be up and down this season. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride for both the AFC wildcard teams.
Pittsburgh gets lucky as the schedule gets easier towards the end. They get some key home games and should win them. Another good thing for the Steelers is their division is in the same boat as them. None of the teams are dominant and I can see Ben Roethlisberger and this defense to lead them to the playoffs.
Again, I’m not sure how well they’re going to play in the postseason, but they key is they made it. They do have the capability of making a New York Giants type run, but they’re going to have to fix many flaws to do that.
The Ravens before this week would have been fighting for not just a spot as the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but would have been a Super Bowl contender. Now, they’re banged up and it will hurt them. The Ravens should be without their heart and soul Ray Lewis for the season to go along with their best corner. The rest of the defense is plagued by injuries and they struggle to stop the run. It’s not the same Ravens time from the past and they are going to struggle going forward.
I do think the offense will do enough to get them to a tie and earn the tiebreaker with the Steelers for the division crown. That will set up a match-up between the two in the wildcard round and settle the true AFC North champion.
It’s a new era for Ravens football now and they’re going to struggle the rest of this season with so many injuries.
AFC West Champion No. 2 Seed Denver Broncos (12-4)
The team was already on an upward swing with making the playoffs last season. Bringing Peyton Manning in didn’t hurt as I believe the Broncos should make a nice run from here to the rest of the season. They still have a lot of games against weak AFC West opponents and don’t have many good teams on the schedule going forward.
The opponents left on the Broncos schedule are mediocre and up and down teams. The Broncos defense is too good to allow teams to have good days on them and Manning is way too good and smart to lose to mediocre teams especially this year.
Manning is only getting healthier and healthier as the season goes on and the run games is also getting better and better. Denver has all the tools for a Super Bowl run and I believe they will be a first round bye candidate and a possible AFC Super Bowl team.
AFC South Champion No. 1 Seed Houston Texans (13-3)
This is going to be a special season for the Houston Texans. They’re the most complete team in the NFL this year as they can not only run the ball better than anyone else, but they have one of the best defenses around.
This helps their passing game and pass rush and should lead them to a deep season that could end in New Orleans. Many are going to point at their struggles in the Green Bay game on Sunday, but I’m not looking too deep into it. This Texans team is just too good.
Houston has a pretty easy schedule going forward as well in most of they harder games are played in Reliant Stadium. They should make it to the AFC Championship Game and play it in front of their home crowd.
Watch out for Houston this season going forward.
NFC Wildcard No. 6 Seed Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) vs. NFC West Champion No. 3 Seed San Francisco 49ers (11-5)
The Eagles are a complete team with the type of talent to go on a run like the past few Super Bowl champions. They will struggle some going forward, but have enough to make the playoffs and have a 10-win season.
I still don’t trust Michael Vick as the Eagles will probably lose some of the big games going forward. I don’t trust this team on the road yet versus a tough opponent and that’s why they should be a wildcard.
If it wasn’t for the strong talent in the NFC they would have a better seed, but reality is there’s a lot of good team in their conference.
The team that’s going to be the biggest threat despite their losses in the NFC is still the 49ers. They do struggle still a bit on offense, but I do think they will get that corrected just in time for the playoffs. The defense is solid, but not quite all the way there yet against quality opponents.
The 49ers still have some tough road games left and I think they will drop three of them. I do think they will win out at home and keep the home crowd happy.
The 49ers are just a prime example of how the NFL is up and down this year as they have enough talent to go 14-2 or 13-3. They’re just to inconsistent and the league is too even for that right now.
NFC Wildcard No. 5 Seed Seattle Seahawks (11-5) vs. NFC North Champion No. 4 Seed Chicago Bears (11-5)
Who would have guessed the Seattle Seahawks would have 10+ wins and be in the playoffs with rookie Russell Wilson leading this team? Reality is they will be.
The Seahawks are just too good at home and have one of the best defenses in the game. What they also do well is rushing the ball with Marshawn Lynch and all three are recipes for a deep run.
Seattle has some key match-ups at home going forward and I don’t see anyway they lose those games. Don’t buy too much stock into Wilson though as he’s not going to be leaned upon much this season going forward. They’re going to win their games with a solid ground game, defense, and the 12th man.
The Chicago Bears may be one of the best teams in the NFC right now as they’re 5-1. I think they will go on to lose another four games with having a tough schedule. Majority of those losses are going to come on the road as parity is so big this year.
Teams are going to struggle in Solider Field this year and Jay Cutler will do just enough to lead this team to a division crown. The defense is going to be leaned upon though and they should deliver. Another big factor for the Bears is that their division opponents are too inconsistent and not ready to take control this year. Green Bay and Detroit have too many flaws and are too far behind to make a run in a tough conference.
I think the Bears do just enough to survive and win the division.
NFC South Champion No. 2 Seed Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
The Falcons are undefeated still and narrowly escaping right now. I think that luck will come back and get them a few times before the season is over as they should lose three games. Still, don’t look too deep into that as they should earn a first round bye and be a huge factor to represent the NFC in New Orleans.
They’re doing enough to comeback and win the last two weeks in last second field goals against bad Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders teams but that will get them beat against solid all around teams especially on the road.
I don’t think the Falcons lose at home as the Georgia Dome will be raucous, but road games and lackadaisical play lately will get them beat.
NFC East No. 1 Seed New York Giants (13-3)
The Giants have returned to Super Bowl form. That’s scary for their opponents as this usually doesn’t kick in until late November. I think they only lose one game going forward and that will be a road game at Dallas. Yes the Cowboys will sweep the Giants this year and not make the playoffs.
New York has too good of a pass rush and can play press coverage with anyone. That also allows a great run stopping line backing core and shuts down any offense. The Giants also have built a great run game which they lacked last year in ranking last in their Super Bowl winning season, so now they can control both sides of the ball.
Mix that with Eli Manning playing like one of the best quarterback’s in the league right now and this team is the favorite to take it all right now. This is the most complete team in the league and could have a dynasty going.