Predicting the Playoff Teams for the NFL

The NFL season is back underway with new teams ready to make a push for the playoffs

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The NFL season is back underway with new teams ready to make a push for the playoffs

Farhad Taraporevala and Simrat Singh

Top 6 NFC Teams

  1. Green Bay Packers

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has had historically good seasons when bouncing back from injury. Even though he appeared to injure his leg in the week one game against the Bears, he managed to guide his team to another comeback win, cementing his place as the “comeback king” of the NFL. The rest of the team appeared strong, especially the wide receiver core. The new defensive strategy, which often features six defensive backs, seemed able to stop the pass-heavy league, but struggled at times against the run.

  1. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams had an explosive season last year led by quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley. This year the Rams seem poised to repeat, and free-agent additions Ndamukong Suh, Nickell-Robey Coleman and Aqib Talib will only make the defense stronger. The re-signing of defensive tackle Aaron Donald checked off another important box in the offseason, and it will be fun to see Donald and Suh shredding up opposing offensive lines.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

In the season opener, the Eagles defense showed why the team won the Super Bowl. The defense shut down the Falcons twice in the red zone and practically won the game. The same could not be said for the offense, which got off to a slow start. A healthy quarterback in Carson Wentz should jumpstart the offense and bring it back to where it was last year.

  1. Carolina Panthers

In a very weak NFC South, the Panthers barely edged out the Saints based on their division record. Quarterback Cam Newton has flashed his running ability already, but the more important part of his game, passing, lacks consistency. Tight end Greg Olsen’s injury is a concern for the offense, and the Panthers should be hoping for a quick recovery.

  1. Minnesota Vikings

NFC North will be a strong division this year, and the defending division champions will not be repeating this year. A key loss against the Rams is all that separates the two teams and arguably the better all-around team. The Vikings defense showed its strength in the opening win against the 49ers. The offense performed admirably, with quarterback Kirk Cousins taking his first snaps as a Viking.

  1. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers squeak into the last wildcard position in a very competitive NFC. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a very promising end to his 2016-17 season, and tight end George Kittle seems like a reliable target for the inexperienced Garoppolo. While the 49ers defense may not be the strongest, they are young and quick, and the experienced cornerback Richard Sherman is always a plus.

Top 6 AFC Teams

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

After not winning many games for the last six years, the Jaguars were able to bounce back last year to win 10 games and the division. This year, riding on one of the most dominating defenses in the league combined with an easy schedule, the Jaguars should be able to cruise to 14 wins, earning them the best team in the conference and the league. With young running back Leonard Fournette and quarterback Blake Bortles having one more year under their belts, it should allow the team to dominate the competition.

  1. New England Patriots

The Patriots have been the definition of a dynasty, winning their division, AFC East, for the last nine years. Backed by a strong defense and new additions to the offense, this should not change. Quarterback Tom Brady at 41 years old looks to continue his dominance over the league. With a weak AFC East and a relatively easy schedule, their winning should continue. Star cornerback Jason McCourty, joining the team, should provide a boost to an already formidable defense.

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were absolutely dominant against the Bills in their opening game, and although they took a step back in their game against the Bengals, the Ravens defense boasts stars such as C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs, which has consistently made the Ravens one of the best defenses in the league. With new rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson providing new options and a very easy schedule to compete against, the Ravens are able to narrowly edge the Steelers and win the division.

  1. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are not necessarily an elite team, but the offense boasts firepower in wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper as well as star quarterback Derek Carr. The AFC West, one of the worst divisions in the NFL this year, allows a team that traded away Khalil Mack, one of their best players, to easily advance to the playoffs

  1. Houston Texans

The Texans always have been unlucky with injuries, seeing stars J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney suffering injuries year after year; however, once again they have the talent on the team to make an impact in the league. Coming in at a record of 12-4, the Texans will be a dangerous team to face in the playoffs as their seeding is deceiving. Due to playing in the AFC South with the Jaguars, the Texans are forced to compete in the Wild Card, but the team boasts many talented players that have continued to improve as the years passed.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers’ offense is quite literally unstoppable. Although star running back Le’Veon Bell is currently not playing due to contract disputes, the team still boasts an amazing quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and one of the best wide receiving cores in the league with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The offensive line of the team allows scoring at will while their defense is good enough to give the offense even more opportunities. Although the Ravens barely edge out the Steelers, the margin is narrow as it comes down to the Steelers drawing its first game against the Browns.

Link to game-by-game predictions: