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Way too Early NFL playoff predictions

May. 12, 2020 - Michael Stewart

Way too Early NFL playoff predictions

Introduction: Now that free agency and the draft are behind us, most of the spending by NFL teams is basically behind us with the exception of a few note worthy free agents who are expected to find a home sometime in the next month or so (Jadeveon Clowney, Cam Newton and Markus Golden). Aside from these players, don’t expect to see any major moves by teams from now until the start of training camp. Of course, the preparation of this year’s training camp will be effected by the COVID-19 outbreak as teams with limited time and availability to prepare for the start of the season. So with that mind, let’s take a look at the projected division leaders and wild contenders for the 2020 NFL season:

NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys: This will more than likely be the closest battle among division rivals in the NFL as the Philadelphia Eagles will probably be in contention until the final week or two. The Giants and Redskins are not expected to compete for the division title or a wild card spot, but both teams are much improved and will notch a couple of upset wins within the division. The Cowboys will new Head Coach Mike McCarty leading the way with a cast of talented players on both sides of the ball.

NFC North:

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings seem to be a team with more stability among the rest of the candidates in the division. The Packers won 13 games in 2019, but didn’t provide quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the necessary offensive weapons he needed and that could cost them. The Vikings are balanced and many of their top players had down years in 2019. It will be close, but I think the Vikings prevail in the end.

NFC South:

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees is back and that’s great news for the Saints as they are primed to continue their hold on the NFC south division. Through in another factor that should motivate Brees is that he’ll be facing off with the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady twice a year and if that doesn’t put a fire under you then nothing will. The Saints addressed needs in free agency and in the draft and should outduel the Buccaneers for the crown.

NFC West:

San Francisco 49ers: If there is any team that fills unfulfilled, it has to be the 49ers who had the Super Bowl in their hands with less than 7 minutes remaining and a 10 point lead; only to watch the Chiefs hoist the Lombardi trophy in the end. The 49ers have solidified the offensive line with the draft day of OT Trent Williams and adding talent players in the draft (DT Javon Kinlaw and WR Brandon Aiyuk) that will contribute as rookies.

Wild Card Teams:

Green Bay Packers:  As long as Aaron Rodgers stays relatively healthy, the Packers should once again finish with double digit wins and secure one of the top 3 wild card spots.

Seattle Seahawks: The always competitive Seahawk with quarterback Russell Wilson will battle for most of the year against the 49ers for the divisional crown, only to fall short and earn a wild card spot.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You didn’t think I would leave Tom Brady out of the playoffs in 2020. Brady still has enough gas in the tank to jump start a cast of talented players on the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers feature a solid defense and enough weapons to give Brady the ability to reach double- digits in wins. Oh, did I forget that Rob Gronkowski will be re-united with Brady for at least in 2020.

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills: It’s been a very long time since I had a different team listed here besides the New England Patriots, but all good things must come to an end. Tom Brady departure to Tampa Bay and the fact that the Bills took a major step up in 2019 makes this an logical pick. The Bills feature a top 5 defense in 2019 and the progression of 2nd year quarterback Josh Allen gives the Buffalo Bills the clear advantage. By the way, did I mention the Bills have added WR Stefon Diggs to their arsenal on offense?

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens: 2nd year quarterback Lamar Jackson had an magical season in 2019 leading the Baltimore Ravens to a division title and the best record in the AFC at 13-3. Not only did the Ravens address needs in free agency and through trades (Calais Campbell), but they arguably had the best draft. This division won’t even be close as the Ravens should steamroll through their divisional rivals.

AFC South:

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have a talented roster and it did appear that they were missing that one ingredient that could catapult them into the playoffs. Enter Philip Rivers on a one year deal and with something to prove. It’s unclear if this will be Rivers final season or not, but something tells me that if he can lead the Colts into the playoffs and make some noise in the playoffs, well he might consider holding off on signing those retirement papers.

AFC West:

Kansas City Chiefs: Here’s another slam dunk of a prediction as the Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs will not only win their division by a wide margin, but they are the team to beat enroute to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are solid on both sides of the ball and the thought that Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes could be even better in 2020 is absolutely scary for opposing teams.

Wild Card Teams:

Tennessee Titans: 2019 was a magical year for the Titans and for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but do they have enough to make another run in 2020? I think this team will find ways to win the close games during the year; which should be enough to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.  

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers had a tale to two seasons in 2019, the first half filled with setbacks and disappointments; the second half with triumph and optimism. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a 2019 season he would like to forget and although he is nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career, he still has something to prove and he will lead the Steelers into the playoffs as a wild card.

Houston Texans:  The Texans made some questionable moves in the off season; the biggest was trading WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for RB David Johnson.  It’s hard to support some of the moves made by Head Coach/GM Bill O’Brien as their free agent pickups were not big named players. In the draft, the Texans did beef up the defensive line with the selections of DT Ross Blacklock and DE Jonathan Greenard.  Both should contribute in 2020.

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have a talented roster and it did appear that they were missing that one ingredient that could catapult them into the playoffs. Enter Philip Rivers on a one year deal and with something to prove. It’s unclear if this will be Rivers final season or not, but something tells me that if he can lead the Colts into the playoffs as a wild card and make some noise in the playoffs, well he might consider holding off on signing those retirement papers.

Final Thoughts:  These early projection should see a few adjustments along the way as the season progresses as injuries should play a major role in the outcome in each division. With the COVID-19 more than likely affecting the majority of the season in some way or another, we could see more upsets than in recent past and possibly more injuries. For now, this is the projected division winners and wild card contenders.