NFL fans won’t even dare to look away from their TVs as the anticipation for this year’s postseason grows.
Heading into the final stretch of the 2019/20 season, the red hot 12-2 Baltimore Ravens might look destined for a Super Bowl rematch against the San Francisco 49ers. However, the Saints have been on a late season run, which I’m predicting will continue and lead straight to the championship. With only weeks to go until Super Bowl 54, the playoff seeding’s are shaping up, but wildcard spots are still up for grabs. Let’s take a look at how things may play out and lead to a Saints victory.
In the AFC, the Bills, Patriots, Ravens, and Chiefs have all clinched a spot in the postseason, but there are still three teams in the hunt. Although most people are looking at the wildcard race, fans of the AFC East will be looking to see if the Buffalo Bills can steal the division title for the first time since 1995 from defending Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots. New England currently have an 11-3 record and only sit one game ahead of the 10-4 Bills in the standings. The two teams are set to match up against each other in week 16, a game that could very well decide who will win the division.
The other battle in the AFC is one which looks unlikely for the 8-6 Tennessee Titans: the battle for the AFC South. As the Titans currently sit out of the playoffs by a tiebreaker to the Steelers, they are looking to fight their way into the playoffs with two tough games to be played, one against the 11-3 New Orleans Saints and the other game against a division rival, the Houston Texans who are currently 9-5 and beating out the Titans by one game.
In the NFC wildcard race, the only team likely to creep into a playoff spot is the 8-6 Los Angeles Rams. The 7-7 Chicago Bears unfortunately had their late playoff push thwarted by the Packers. The 6th seed in the NFC is currently held by the Vikings. But the Rams could still squeak their way in and steal it if the Vikings were to lose their next two games against the Packers and Bears.
The other division title battle would be the battle for the NFC West division. After the 49ers suffered a devastating loss to the Falcons they also lost the current #1 seed in the NFC to the Seahawks and as of right now would be the #5 seed in the conference. The 49ers will have a tough game vs the LA Rams but a game they should win. The Seahawks have a much easier game, they will play the Arizona Cardinals. But the game players on both teams will be thinking about who will win the week 17 match up between the Seahawks and 49ers, a game destined to decide who will win the division.
The final NFC spot up for grabs is the NFC East title which could come down to one game. As the NFC East is looking like the like the worst division in the NFL, even a dismal 8-8 record could get the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles into this year’s postseason. Since the NFL does the playoffs by division as opposed to by conference, the NFC East is unfortunately guaranteed one spot in the playoffs; therefore either the Eagles and Cowboys could clinch the division title. The division title is most likely going to come down to the week 16 match up between the two teams. The Eagles will play the Cowboys and the Giants in their final games and the Cowboys play the Eagles and Redskins. The inconsistent Eagles should win their game against the Giants as the Giants have a record of 3-11. And the Cowboys should beat the Redskins who also have a record of 3-11. Even if the Cowboys lose the game to the Redskins they could still beat out the Eagles if they can beat them in week 16, a game if, won by the Cowboys would clinch them the tiebreaker between the two and the division title. So for the Eagles to make it they would have to win both games, and for the Cowboys to make it they would have to win the game vs the Eagles.
Let’s take a look at our predictions:
Wildcard Round: AFC
Chiefs vs Steelers — Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
With the Chiefs on a three game winning streak and coming off a win to the Patriots, the Steelers have little chance to win this win as they have now moved onto their 3rd string QB.
Bills vs Texans — Winner: Buffalo Bills
As the Bills continue their strong 2019 campaign, the inconsistent Texans won’t be able to edge out the Bills and their defence which is ranked #3 overall in the entire league.
Wildcard Round: NFC
Saints vs Vikings — Winner: New Orleans Saints
Not much you can say in support of the Vikings as the New Orleans Saints look better than ever with superstar wide receiver Michael Thomas looking unstoppable. The match up will heavily favor the Saints as they rank 5th in rush defence while the Vikings biggest weapon on offence is their run game.
49ers vs Cowboys — Winner: San Francisco 49ers
Anyone looking at this match up would without a doubt pick the 49ers, even though the Cowboys have the #1 ranking in total offence in the league and San Francisco are #2 in pass defence and are #2 ranked in total defence.
Divisional Round: AFC
Ravens vs Bills — Winner: Baltimore Ravens
After the Ravens’ week-14 win over the Buffalo Bills, Lamar Jackson will continue to punish the Bills poor run defence, punching their way into the AFC conference championship.
Patriots vs Chiefs — Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
The two teams met last year in the conference championship and this year will meet again with Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes edging out Tom Brady and knocking the patriots out of the playoffs. It’s hard to count out any team that has Tom Brady on their roster but with unreliable receivers and the lack of production from the offence, the Chiefs will dethrone the Patriots.
Divisional Round: NFC
49ers vs Seahawks — Winner: San Francisco 49ers
Even though the 49ers lost to the Seahawks in week 10, the outcome will be different this time around as star tight end George Kittle will be active. The 49ers outrageous D Line will punish the Seahawks suspect O Line and with a lack of a pass rush from the Seahawks, 49ers QB Jimmy Garopalo will have lots of time to find some of his favourite targets.
Saints vs Packers — Winner: Saints
Aaron Rodgers somehow always finds a way to lug the Packers to the playoffs, but they’ll be stopped in their tracks by the Saints who are dominating them with superstars all over but. In this one, the Saints will beat the Packers on skill alone as Packers rank #23 in total offence.
Conference Championship: AFC
Baltimore Ravens vs Kansas City Chiefs — Winner: Ravens
In week 3, the Kansas City Chiefs got the better of the Ravens winning 33-28 but since then the Ravens have gotten better than ever being led by MVP front runner Lamar Jackson. The Ravens offence is like nothing we have ever seen looking unstoppable up to this point and their defense is ranking #6 compared to Kansas’ #18 rank.
Conference Championship: NFC
San Francisco 49ers vs New Orleans Saints — Winner: Saints
With the 49ers recent loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, San Francisco will have to travel to New Orleans for the Conference Championship game. With both teams’ rosters filled with talent, the Saints will edge out the 49ers with one of the best in the game right now, wide receiver Michael Thomas, and home field advantage.
Baltimore Ravens vs New Orleans Saints — Winner: Saints
The Baltimore Ravens have been incredible this year, but experience goes a long way in the playoffs. The Saints will look to tear apart the Ravens defence with superstar duo Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, as the Saints pair will be led by veteran QB Drew Brees while they look to win their franchise’s second Super Bowl ever.
Image Credit: flickr