2018-19 NFL Playoff Predictions: Pats Win it All Thanks to Favorable Schedule

Welcome to my 2018-19 NFL Playoff Predictions.  Today, I will show you my playoff bracket alongside score predictions and analysis for each game.  Next week, I will update you with Divisional Round predictions unless all of this week’s games are predicted correctly.  Below is my official playoff bracket:
I have the Patriots winning it all, though I don’t see them as the most talented team here.  I think a favorable schedule, including home field advantage in the AFC Championship after Kansas City’s elimination will help them to a Super Bowl victory.  The Super Bowl itself will be an epic battle of two aging superstar QBs, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  It will be close, but I have the Patriots coming out on top.  Check out my score predictions and in-depth analysis for all 11 games below.

Wild Card Weekend

Offensively, these two teams are pretty evenly matched.  The Colts have given the Texans a hard time in the past.  But on Wild Card Weekend, I expect Houston’s defense to step it up and secure the Texans a victory.  While Indy struggles to get into the red zone against a strong Texans D, Houston will score on an inexperienced Colts defense with ease as WR DeAndre Hopkins puts up another huge game.
This will be a high scoring game, and it could potentially end up being a complete shootout.  Both these defenses lack the experience to thrive in the playoffs.  This will allow QB Dak Prescott to find his receivers and lead the Cowboys to victory.  However, QB Russell Wilson and his versatile offense will make it close and come within one possession of the victory.
With TE Hunter Henry back, this Chargers offense will only get better from here.  I think they’ll be able to handle the rising Ravens D this time around.  You know what they say: it’s hard to beat the same team twice.  This time around, the Chargers D will figure out how to shut down QB Lamar Jackson, RB Gus Edwards, and a talented Ravens offense.  It won’t be easy, but I see the Chargers as the only road team to win on Wild Card Weekend.
This will be closer than most people expect. QB Nick Foles has unlocked the full potential of the Eagles offense, and it will not be easy for even a dominant Bears D to contain them.  But I see QB Mitch Trubisky and his receivers stepping it up and leading a late comeback effort.  They will take advantage of the banged-up Eagles secondary and eventually secure the victory in overtime.

Divisional Round

This will not be an exciting one to watch.  The banged-up Houston offense will struggle to put up points, even against a mediocre New England D.  Don’t expect Brady the Pats to score much either against Houston’s strong defense.  But I see the Pats getting by, as Brady and his receivers take advantage of Houston’s defensive weakness: their secondary.  On the other hand, the Patriots’ well-rounded defense will stand strong.
No matter who wins in this divisional rubber match, it will be a complete shootout.  The Chiefs have next to no defense, which will not serve them well against any playoff team.  But will QB Patrick Mahomes II and company put up enough points to get by anyway?  In the playoffs?  I don’t think so.  Mahomes will put up a multi-TD effort.  But the Chargers’ revamped offense will dominate a weak Kansas City defense and outplay Mahomes and his squad.  Even with Mahomes replacing QB Alex Smith, the Chiefs will choke in the playoffs, again, as the Chargers move on to face New England in the AFC Championship.
This will be another close one.  But I don’t see this being as high-Scoring as Chicago’s Wild Card Weekend match-up with the Eagles.  The Rams have one of the most star-studded defenses in the league.  They will severely limit the abilities of a young Bears offense.  But Chicago’s D is up there with LA’s.  QB Jared Goff has had a good season in general, but he has put up a few duds here and there.  After putting up a dud the last time these two teams played, I could see him doing it again.  RB Todd Gurley is not at full health and WR Cooper Kupp is done for the year.  Goff will find himself short of weapons and will fall short in OT, going one and done for the second year in a row.
Dallas will be able to get by in the first round, but wait till they see an elite contender.  The Saints should be able to top the Cowboys with ease, even after their defeat in Dallas.  This game will take place in New Orleans, and it will be easier on the Saints now that they have an idea of what they’re up against.   Brees and his receivers will put up a decent game, but it’s the Saints defense that I could see stepping it up here against Prescott and his young offense.

Conference Championships

AFC Championship
In order for TB12 and the Patriots to take down this dominant Chargers offense, they’ll need to get their own act together offensively.  But at Gillette Stadium, I have confidence in them.  As long as the Chargers or somebody else dethrones the Chiefs before New England has to play them, the Pats will get the opportunity to play the AFC Championship at home, where they are undefeated on the season.  Against a decent Chargers D, Brady will have to use a variety of receivers, and the Pats will have to run the ball occasionally.  But I have confidence that they are capable, especially on home turf, though this will not be easy.  If this was played anywhere but Gillette, the Patriots would likely fall short to LA’s overpowered offense.
NFC Championship
Against a tough Bears D, you cannot expect a huge game out of Brees and company.  But the Saints have made defensive improvements of their own throughout the season, and I could see them holding the Bears to just 1 TD of their own.  The Saints will get by in the end, making the Super Bowl for the first time since 2009.
Fun fact: In 2009, the Saints went 13-3, losing to the same opponents as they did this year.  They went on to win the Super Bowl that year.

Super Bowl LIII

In a battle of two star QBs in Brady and Brees, I have the Pats winning it all. But it won’t be Brady who drives the victory.  The Saints have succeeded in stopping the run for most of the season, but the at times dominant Pats RB trio might overwhelm them.  Meanwhile, Brees will have a strong game here, but I think the Pats’ star-studded secondary will stand strong, holding Brees and his receivers to just 2 TDs.  These two things along with a vintage game by TE Rob Gronkowski will lead New England to a 6th Super Bowl victory.  I think RBs James White and Sony Michel will shine in this game, and I see the future of this team depending on their success.
That’s all for today’s predictions.  Stay tuned for more NFL Playoffs coverage and updates soon.
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NFL Divisional Round Picks: Jags Shock Pittsburgh, Vikes Win in Shootout

Welcome to my Divisional Round Picks.  In the Wild Card Round, I went 3-1.  Who will come out on top this week in order to fight for Super Bowl qualification next week?  Read below and comment with your thoughts.

(6) Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles (1)

Saturday: 4:35 PM EST on NBC

Eagles, 37, Falcons, 30

Even with QB Carson Wentz injured, I see Philly winning this one.  The Falcons offense is pretty good, but even with Nick Foles at QB, it’s hard to top the Eagles offense.  The Falcons defensive front could get on Foles’ nerves, but Foles and the Philly offense will overcome it.  However, Foles has not been great under pressure, unlike Wentz.  But the tough Eagles defense will have Falcons QB Matt Ryan under a lot of pressure himself, and he will struggle under pressure, failing to repeat last year’s deep playoff run.

(5) Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (1)

Saturday: 8:15 PM EST on CBS

Patriots, 31, Titans, 23

QB Tom Brady will lead the Pats to victory here with the help of TE Rob Gronkowski and receivers Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, who will dominate against the young Titans secondary.  Gronk will seem unbeatable to this young but strong Tennessee defense.  In his first game against the Pats since his rookie year, QB Marcus Mariota will also have a tough time, especially against the strong Pats secondary.  He will toss just 1 TD.

However, RB Derrick Henry will get on New England’s nerves in his first game against them.  This speedy running back is just too much for the Pats front seven, even with veteran LB James Harrison.  I do see New England coming out on top in the end after offensive dominance and excellent coverage of Titans QB Marcus Mariota.

(3) Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2)

Sunday: 1:05 PM EST on CBS

Jaguars, 27, Steelers, 23

In my opinion, Jacksonville will be the only road team that wins this week.  Although QB Blake Bortles might have a difficult time against the Steelers D, the Jaguars secondary was able to pick off QB Ben Roethlisberger 5 times last time these two franchises played. Plus, between his calf and his illness, WR Antonio Brown will not be 100% for this game whether he plays or not.

Big Ben will experience deja vu against a dominant Jags defense without his favorite target.  The Jags young group of receivers will also thrive as long as Bortles can get the ball to them, which I think will happen for at least parts of the game.  Jags win in a close thriller.

(4) New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings (2)

Sunday: 4:40 PM EST on FOX

Vikings, 37, Saints, 33

In a high scoring rematch of the 2017 season’s first Monday Night game, the Vikes will come out on top, led by rising QB Case Keenum and young receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.  WR Brandon Coleman is out for the Saints as well as G Andrus Peat, causing the Saints offense to be slightly less powerful than usual.  Only slightly though.  The Saints defense will still be great as well, but the Vikings dominant receivers will intimidate the young secondary and the Saints will allow Keenum to toss multiple TDs as Minnesota wins.

 

That’s all for my picks this week.  Stay tuned for a more in-depth Patriots-Titans preview coming soon.

Ultimate Super Bowl LI Preview: Video, Prediction and More

The Super Bowl is almost here.  The snacks are ready and the Pats and Falcons are about to face off in a great game.  So, it’s time to look a little bit deeper.  Who will win the big game on Sunday?  Keep reading to find out what I think!

Here’s my video preview for the big game:

 

 

I also have an iMovie trailer, check it out!

 

Okay, that gave you a brief preview, but it’s time to go deeper.  This may be one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.  Either team has a shot to win.  

The Case for the Pats

The Patriots are four time champions looking for a fifth.  One thing that will come to their advantage is their depth.  They have so many options on offense, and rotate the defense very frequently.  Tom Brady is on fire, and the defense is first in scoring defense and has the power to slow down and overwhelm Matt Ryan.

If the Pats win, Brady will be known as the G.O.A.T, and Bill Belichick will be known as the greatest head coach ever.  I think things are looking good for the Pats.  I really think that the Patriots were meant to win this season.  

The Case For The Falcons

Matt Ryan is trying to win the Falcons their first Super Bowl, and I think he has a good chance. The Falcons have an awesome QB-RB-WR combo.  The Falcons don’t have the best defense, but Matt Ryan and his offense have had an MVP caliber season.  The Falcons may not have the awesome past of the Patriots, but they can overwhelm a defense, and they actually looked really good this season.  I think they have a legitimate chance.  

Super Bowl Fast Facts

  • The Patriots have not lost a Super Bowl when they’ve had a Top 10 defense, they are first this year.  
  • However, the Pats have not faced a Top 10 passing QB this season, Matt Ryan is number 1.
  • Matt Ryan has won against 5 of 6 winning QBs in 2016.  
  • However, the Falcons have scored 540 points this season.  No team to score 540 points or more in a season has ever won the Super Bowl.  
  • The Patriots are 17-0 when Dion Lewis plays.  Lewis will play in Super Bowl LI.
  • The Patriots have only thrown 2 turnovers, fewest in the NFL
  • Despite ranking 25th in offensive yards per carry, they only allow 3.85 to opponents.  
  • The last 7 MVP winners to make the Super Bowl have lost

The Final Pick

Typically, I just predict the score. But it’s the Super Bowl, so I went a little deeper.  I simulated the entire game based on my basic score prediction.  Below are the final score and stat predictions I came up with.  

Patriots, 30, Falcons, 23

I think the Patriots will win by a touchdown.  The Falcons just don’t have the depth to cover the Pats offense.  Their defense is terrible in the red zone and will let the Pats score on them.  Although Brady will do strongly and throw for 2 TDs, I think we will also see a Patriots rushing touchdown.  Both these teams went from having a desperate running game to an amazing backfield.  The Falcons will also score at least 1 rushing TD.  

However, this is number one offense (Falcons) against number one defense (Patriots).  Who won the last match-up like that?  The Broncos did, they had the number one defense.  Defense wins games, and the Pats defense will pressure Matt Ryan well, and the whole Falcons offense will be messed up by it.  The Falcons have only faced three really good defenses this year, the Seahawks (twice), Broncos and Chiefs.  They went 2-2 in those match-ups, one of their wins at home.  In the Super Bowl, it’s a neutral match-up, and unlike those other teams, the Patriots have amazing offense.  They also have depth that Atlanta lacks.  So, after a grand effort by both teams, I see the Patriots edging this one out.

Stat Projections (Passing, Rushing and Receiving)

Patriots

Passing

Tom Brady, 34/54, 348 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks

 

Rushing

LeGarrette Blount, 17 rush, 76 yards, TD

Dion Lewis, 6 rush, 28 yards

James White: 7 rush, 24 yards

 

Receiving

Julian Edelman, 8/11, 96 yards

Malcolm Mitchell, 6/14, 68 yards, TD

Martellus Bennett, 8/8, 66 yards, TD

Chris Hogan, 6/10, 65 yards

Danny Amendola, 3 /4, 30 yards

Michael Floyd, 2/ 3, 19 yards

Dion Lewis, 1/1, 4 yards

Matt Lengel, 0/1, 0 yards

 

Falcons

 

Passing

Matt Ryan, 31/50, 314 yards, TD, 1 INT, 4 sacks

 

Rushing

Devonta Freeman, 23 rush, 113 yards, TD

Tevin Coleman, 10 rush, 41 yards

Patrick DiMarco, 1 rush, 2 yards

 

Receiving

Julio Jones, 13/22, 139 yards

Mohamed Sanu, 8/11, 68 yards, TD

Austin Hooper, 6/6, 62 yards

Taylor Gabriel, 4/10, 45 yards

Levine Toilolo, 0/1, 0 yards

 

The Super Bowl is almost here.  The food is ready (hopefully).  The game is recorded, and my Super Bowl Sunday is planned.  All that’s left is the wait.  Are you ready for the Big Game?

NFL Three Quarter Report: Patriots Current State and My Playoff Machine Scenario

The Patriots have continued to thrive since the second half began.  Sure, they’ve had some flaws.  The defense has been worrying me lately.  They dropped a home game to Seattle because of it.  Their offense had looked a little bit different, more under pressure than usual.  They haven’t been throwing to guys like Martellus Bennett.  Most of the passes are now going to Julian Edelman and emerging receiver Malcolm Mitchell.  Mitchell has been a main factor in the Pats receiving game since the bye.  Dion Lewis is now back, creating some depth in the run game, which they’re using to their advantage.

In Week 10 however, Gronk took a serious hit in the head.  We later found out that he also took a hit to the lung.  He was looking ready to go in Week 13, but doctors found that he had a herniated disc, and needed back surgery. He was out for the season, placed on IR.  Last week against the Rams, the Patriots showed that their new offense was still a scoring offense, and that their run game could help contribute to that.  The Patriots won the game 26-10.  It was a clinic.  The Pats shut them out 17-0 in the 1st half, and continued a long streak of wins in a row at home when leading at halftime, despite being outscored in the 2nd half as the Rams attempted at a comeback.  With Tavon Austin, they might have had two TDs, but this was a good game.  It gives me higher hopes about this Monday night’s game.  It gives me higher hopes for the remainder of the year.  If the Pats want that home field advantage bad enough, they’ll go out there, win 3 or 4 games, and work hard and do their job through all 4.

Playing Around With The Playoff Machine

There are a lot of what if’s when it comes to the playoffs.  Lots of scenarios.  Well, by making my best predictions I could of the next 4 weeks, I simulated what in my opinion, is the most likely playoff scenario.  The question is, who’s in, and who’s out?



Who’s In

Denver Broncos; 8-4, Projection: 11-5

This Denver offense has been terrible.  But they’re 8-4 with one of the best defenses in the league.  Their remaining schedule is at the Titans, vs. the Patriots, at the Chiefs and vs. the Raiders.  Personally, I think those games are winnable, if they produce on offense.  They should win some, and lose some.  I think they should come out victorious in at least two.  Derek Carr usually struggles against Denver, and the Patriots haven’t won in Denver in a while.  They will probably beat two of the three match-ups besides the tough one in KC.  That looks like a one way ticket to playoff town.

Pittsburgh Steelers; 7-5; Projection: 9-7

Sure, the Steelers don’t have the greatest remaining schedule.  It is okay though, and their only division competitor, the Ravens, have a very tough remaining schedule, so it will be tough for them to match up to Pittsburgh in these last 4 weeks, as Pittsburgh should navigate their schedule decently.

Houston Texans; 6-6; Projection; 9-7

A friend of mine said that he thinks the Texans aren’t winning another game this year.  I don’t think so.  They are 6-6, but they have an easy remaining schedule.  The Colts, Jaguars, Bengals and Titans remain.  The Titans could pose a challenge, but I think the Texans will pull a big upset over the Colts this week.  Brock Osweiler will lead them to the top of their division, despite a potential loss in Tennessee to tighten the race.  By that point it will already be too late.  The Texans will have clinched their weak division.

Atlanta Falcons; 7-5; Projection: 10-6

I have been giving the Falcons hate all year, but honestly, let’s face the facts.  Their remaining schedule is against the Rams, Niners, Panthers and Saints, some of the worst NFC teams.  They should win at least two or three of those games.  That should be enough to get past Tampa Bay, who still has a game against Dallas, and can’t count on sweeping New Orleans or Carolina.  The Falcons have safer match-ups.  They play the 49ers, and the Rams!  So they’ve earned themselves a playoff spot, as long as they take advantage of these easily winnable games.

Washington Redskins; 6-5-1; Projection: 9-6-1

The Redskins have what would’ve looked like a tough schedule to end the year, if Carolina and Philly hadn’t completely flopped since.  The Giants could also lose to Washington at home.  The Redskins can produce on offense, and have a great defense now.  I could see them taking advantage of that and squeezing into the playoffs last-minute.

Detroit Lions; 8-4; Projection: 10-6

The Lions have themselves a secure spot as long as they win an easy match-up against the Bears this week, and can beat the Packers.  Beating the Packers doesn’t seem like as big a challenge to them as it would’ve in Week 1.  It’s a home game, and the Lions are 5-1 at home this year.  They also face a now problematic Packers team that isn’t going to be as tough to face.  The Lions should win the NFC North and grab their playoff spot.

Who’s Out

Buffalo Bills; 6-6; Projection: 10-6

The Bills are only 6-6 for a reason.  They have only played 5 home games so far.  The rest of their schedule looks somewhat easy.  The issue is, they’ve already gotten themselves out of contention by losing 6 games early on and they have tough competition for the wild card with in the AFC.  They aren’t beating the Pats out in the division, and they aren’t beating out Oakland and Denver in a tough wild card race.

Baltimore Ravens; 7-5; Projection: 8-8

Like I said before, the Ravens have a really tough schedule for the rest of this year, and with that, it will be hard to beat out a powerful Steelers offensive team for a division title.  Although the Bengals are out of it, they have been really good lately and could bring losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh at home.  Baltimore also goes to Pittsburgh, so they’re at a disadvantage.

Green Bay Packers; 6-6; Projection: 9-7

Originally I thought the Packers could still have a shot at the playoffs, and I thought that these struggles were a fluke, but, boy, I was so wrong.  The Packers are at the point where they need to win all their remaining games to get to the playoffs.  It’s going to be tough for them to get in.  They’re not the same team.  I think if they can grab a win this week at home, all they need to get

Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 7-5; Projection: 9-7

The Buccaneers have been on fire since their bye, but the remaining schedule could be tough.  I’d be shocked if they can beat the Cowboys in Dallas, the team with an 11 game win streak.  They also have three divisional games left, one on the road in New Orleans.  It’s not just some tough games for them, as their schedule isn’t too bad overall, it’s that the Falcons have one of the easiest remaining schedules.

Minnesota Vikings; 6-6; Projection: 8-8

Minnesota now finds themselves in a tough division.  The Lions are flying, and the Packers are still decent, so it’ll be tough for them to get in, especially with the Giants feeling good in that 5th seed.  The mediocre schedule doesn’t help, all the teams they face aren’t terrible, and both their road games could go either way.  The way their offense has been doing isn’t promising, despite bad D.  I think that the Jaguars will even outscore them this week.

Miami Dolphins; 7-5; Projection: 8-8

The Dolphins did look impressive during their winning streak.  But that’s over.  They got annihilated last week, knocking them out of their system.  They now face a tough remaining schedule, with no current momentum.  They could continue to collapse and get annihilated, and after the loss, I don’t think the playoffs is happening for them.

Have different thoughts?  Comment your thoughts, or send me your Playoff Machine or Playoff Predictor simulations.