25 Bold Predictions for the 2014 NFL Playoffs
25 Bold Predictions for the 2014 NFL Playoffs
Though it’s sad to see the regular season for the NFL be done with and go, the start of the 2014 NFL Playoffs next weekend undoubtedly eases the blow and provides some solace. While week 17 was certainly full of drama, crazy plays and swings, and overall excitement, those things are pretty much everything that the postseason in this league is all about.
The playoff-picture was rather murky coming into week 17 of the regular season, but now that the dust has settled, the matchups are set and we are ready to go. In the AFC, the first round will get underway with the Kansas City Chiefs playing the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the surprisingly-in-the-playoffs San Diego Chargers. Meanwhile the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots are waiting in the wings having earned byes.
Meanwhile in the NFC, the first round will feature the Philadelphia Eagles versus the New Orleans Saints as well as the San Francisco 49ers traveling to face off with the Green Bay Packers. Earning first round byes in the NFC were the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers.
One of the most interesting things about this particular postseason is the fact that there’s no sure-fire winner in either conference. Even teams like the Broncos and Seahawks, who tied for the best record in the league this year, have had some missteps along the way this season that have made them look vulnerable.
As a result of this apparent parity in the postseason, it feels like anything could happen and it also makes it hard to predict. Bull-headed by nature, I came up with 25 bold predictions for the postseason. By bold, I mean that these might not be the most likely thing to happen but that they are a possibility to happen given what we’ve seen all year or by just gut-feelings. Ready to see those 25 predictions? Here you go.
1. San Diego Chargers Will Win in First Round vs. Bengals
With a crazy turn of events in week 17, the Chargers found their way into the postseason in the AFC’s final wildcard spot. However, they wouldn’t have had the chance for crazy scenarios to play out had they not won their final four games of the season. I think they’ll ride that momentum into the first round and Phillip Rivers will burn the Bengals deep on the way to a San Diego victory.
2. Kansas City Chiefs Will Lose to Colts in Round One
For a team with such little success and postseason experience, the Chiefs’ decision to sit their key players in week 17 seemed like a bad one and one that could foul up some momentum. Coming in to play a Colts team that beat KC in week 16, I’m not too high on the Chiefs’ chances in the first round.
3. New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles Will Set Record For Most Points in Playoff Game
The Eagles and the Saints both averaged over 25 points per game this season and also have defenses that can and have been exploited this season. While the single-game postseason record for combined points is a lofty 95, this game has the DNA to put up some big numbers that get at least somewhere close to 95 combined points.
4. Colin Kaepernick Will Throw for 300 Yards in First Round vs. Packers
A little known fact about Colin Kaepernick is that he has just three 300-yard passing games since taking over the starting job for the 49ers in 2012. One of those 300-yard games was against the Packers, their first round opponent, while another came in week 17 of this year. I think he continues his productivity in round one and puts up another three centuries on Green Bay.
5. Drew Brees Will Dispel Notion That Saints Play Poorly Outdoors
The narrative that seems to never stop being talked about with Drew Brees and the Saints is that they aren’t as explosive playing outdoors, particularly in a cold environment like Philadelphia. However, playing against the worst passing defense in the NFL in terms of yardage will certainly help Brees and I believe that Brees will have a monster game outdoors, even if it doesn’t fit the narrative.
6. LeSean McCoy Will Set Single Playoff Game Rushing Record
Yes, Rob Ryan has the Saints defense playing better than they have in a while. However, their run defense has been a bit below average this year, allowing 111.6 yards per game to opponents. With that rushing defense facing the Eagles and the NFL’s leading rusher in LeSean McCoy, I think McCoy will have a shot at Eric Dickerson’s 248-yard postseason single-game record.
7. Aaron Rodgers Will Get Packers Out of First Round
Though Aaron Rodgers made the big play in week 17 to get the Packers in the playoffs, he showed a little bit of rust throughout the course of his first game back. I think he’s going to look much better in the first round of the playoffs and, even against a stingy Niners defense, will help overpower San Francisco and get Green Bay to advance.
8. Seattle Seahawks Will Not Make It to Super Bowl XLVIII
Sportsbook.com currently has the Seahawks with the best odds to win the NFC and the best odds to win the Super Bowl. However, this team has had some troubles with inconsistency this season and Russell Wilson is still inexperienced in terms of postseason play. This Seahawks team isn’t going away in years to come, but this isn’t their year if you ask me.
9. Bad Andy Dalton Will Show Up in First Round
The Chargers have been burned often this season by opposing passing attacks. However, the Bengals—San Diego’s first round opponent—have seen maddeningly inconsistent play from quarterback Andy Dalton this season. With his split-personality type of performance, I can see Dalton coming up small in round one and not being able to take advantage of the Chargers’ defense.
10. New England Patriots Will Come Out of AFC to Make Super Bowl
The Patriots are the two seed in the AFC and have the second best odds to make it to the Super Bowl out of the conference. Though Rob Gronkowski is out and the weapons change from week to week with this team, I can’t count out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, meaning I have them making one more run at the Lombardi Trophy.
11. Big Gamble From Chip Kelly Will Ultimately Oust Eagles
Chip Kelly has done wonders for the Eagles this season in his first year as head coach. With the way he’s got his team playing around Nick Foles, it’s hard not to look at him as a potential Coach of the Year candidate. However, Kelly has also overthought situations pretty regularly this season and gambled sometimes when he shouldn’t. I can see him continuing to gamble in the postseason and it coming back to cost his team a game.
12. Broncos’ Pass Defense Will Cost Them Super Bowl Run
The dirty secret about the Broncos all season has been that their pass defense isn’t particularly great. Throw in the fact that the AFC Playoffs have three of the top 10 passing teams in the league in addition to a Colts team with the ever-dangerous Andrew Luck and I think the Broncos’ defense could wind up being their downfall and end their record-breaking season short of a Super Bowl.
13. Russell Wilson Will No-Show in Divisional Round
Russell Wilson is deservedly heading to the Pro Bowl this season and his contributions to the Seahawks’ 13-3 season can’t be discredited. However, Wilson has looked quite vulnerable at times this season when defenses have taken away his vision with proper schemes that attack his lack of height. Though we don’t know who they’ll play, I could see this getting to Wilson and causing him to struggle in the Seahawks’ first playoff game of this postseason.
14. Andrew Luck Will Come Up Big In Second Career Playoff Game
In his lone postseason game from last season, Andrew Luck failed to lead Indianapolis to a win and also failed to throw a touchdown pass while also throwing an interception. Though he’s been inconsistent this season, the Chiefs are a team that has been vulnerable to downfield passing attacks this season. With T.Y. Hilton and company able to break off big plays, I expect Luck’s second playoff game to be quite impressive.
15. Jamaal Charles Will Be Huge In Round One, But…
Jamaal Charles is a stud and anyone who tells you difference must “watch” football with their eyes closed. Coming up against the Colts’ 26th ranked rushing defense, Charles has a chance to put up big numbers in the opening round. However…
16. Alex Smith Will Not Rise to Occasion
I don’t think Alex Smith will be able to get the job done for Kansas City. Smith has been solid this year and actually has a track-record of quality play in the postseason, but he’s too dependent on a couple of targets in this Chiefs’ offense and the Colts’ passing defense isn’t nearly as bad as their run defense. He’s been steady all year, but I think Smith starts to crumble in the first round.
17. Keenan Allen Will Have Most Receiving Yards in First Round
It may have taken an injury for rookie Keenan Allen to start getting big looks in the Chargers’ offense, but he’s been a monster since that happened and is a deserving candidate to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Though the Bengals’ defense has been good this season, I don’t know if they have anyone to contain Allen. With San Diego likely looking to throw, Allen should be in for a huge day.
18. Matt Prater Will Set Record For Longest Field Goal in Playoffs
Matt Prater set the NFL record for longest field goal this season with a 64-yard make. The record for the longest field goal in the postseason is 54 yards. The Broncos are not at all hesitant to send Prater out to try and get three points. In case you can’t see where that’s going, kicking longer than a 54-yarder seems like a legitimate possibility for Prater this postseason.
19. Opening Kickoff of Playoffs Will Be Returned for Touchdown
Possibly my boldest prediction, I think the playoffs get underway with a bang. The first matchup is between the Colts and Chiefs on Saturday, which I say will start with a kickoff being returned for a touchdown. It’s definitely a toss-up and a hunch on my part, but we’ll all be wowed if it actually were to happen.
20. No Games Except Super Bowl Will Have Snow
The weather is always the big wildcard in the NFL Playoffs. Being in the heart of winter, you never know when snow is going to poor. Being a fool and trying to predict weather, though, I think it’s too poetic to have the weather be fine for every game except for the Super Bowl. Everyone is already frantic about a possible snowy Super Bowl, so it just seems too perfect for that not to be the lone snow-filled game of the postseason.
21. Cold Weather Won’t Hurt Peyton Manning
The same outdoor and cold weather concerns that have been applied to Brees have also been thrown Peyton Manning’s way from time to time. However, I think Peyton is just too locked in right now for the weather to get to him all too much. I still think the Broncos don’t make it to the Super Bowl, but I don’t think it will be the fault of Manning at all.
22. Nick Foles Will Struggle In First Taste of Postseason
Nick Foles has been ridiculous this season since taking over the starting job in Philly. His 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions on the year are an NFL record for that ratio. However, Foles is still a young quarterback playing under an inexperienced head coach in the postseason. I believe in Foles long-term, but I don’t expect his regular season success to continue in the playoffs.
23. Green Bay Packers’ Defense Will Cost Them NFC Championship Berth
The Packers are going to be a popular dark-horse pick to make it out of the NFC now that Rodgers is back. However, Rodgers doesn’t help what has been a generous and porous defense this season. I think Rodgers will get them out of the first round, but Green Bay’s defense won’t allow them to go any further.
24. Cam Newton Will Be the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Because…
There were questions coming into the year about Cam Newton’s maturity and leadership. He’s silenced those notions with his play and by leading Carolina to the two seed in the NFC. I don’t expect him to stop proving people wrong either and can see him being named the MVP of the big game. Of course, that’s because…
25. Carolina Panthers Will Win Super Bowl XLVIII
The Carolina Panthers are going to win the Super Bowl. There are certainly questions of inexperience and this team falling behind at times, but Carolina’s defense is one of the best in the league and their offense has the power to put up points, especially if Steve Smith can come back to help Newton out. It’s been a while since they’ve seen success, but I think Carolina finds the ultimate success this postseason.