2017 NFL Playoff Predictions (Rd One)

All right, here we are, it is playoff time and it is time to find out which team is truly the best in the NFL. I just reviewed my pre-season picks for each division, which I posted on this blog back in September, and I did pretty well. My predictions for all four AFC division winners were correct and I predicted that the Patriots would have the best record and secure home field advantage. Check and check.

In the NFC I did not fare quite as well. I only went 2 and 2. I was right about Green Bay and Seattle winning the NFC North and West, respectively, but I did not see the Cowboys winning the East or Atlanta dethroning the Carolina Panthers in the South. I always thought NFC East would be a real dogfight and that the Redskins would win the division again. I thought the Cowboys would struggle to take the division after they lost starting QB Tony Romo for the first half of the season. I knew Dallas had a lot of weapons on offense and a terrific O-Line, but I did not think rookie RB Zeke Elliot and rookie QB Dak Prescott would be truly great as they were. Both were real stars this season and they will make the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender for years to come.

As for the Giants, they delivered an unexpected Christmas present by making the playoffs. I must admit they exceeded my expectations. I never thought they would do any better than 8 and 8 this season, but the D and Beckham carried them to playoff!?! I have to give GM Jerry Reese some credit this time around. He bet big on the FA’s he signed for the defense and won.

I did predict the Panthers would suffer more losses this season as the rest of the league focused on them, but I was surprised by their really poor start (1-4). They never recovered from that. Atlanta, on the other hand, made a marked improvement in HC Dan Quinn’s second year. Hawks QB Matt Ryan was masterful this season and he would be my choice for league MVP this season.

Now, who will win the NFC?  It appears to me at least 3 or 4 teams could win the conference, but there is no question that Dallas should be considered the favorites with home field advantage at AT&T Stadium.

Back in my pre-season Blog post I ended up picking Green Bay to win the NFC and face the New England in the Super Bowl. I must admit I really questioning myself when the Packers still under .500 at the 10 game mark, but then they got their act together and ripped off 6 straight victories to end the season 10-6 and Packers that we saw at the end of the season was the team that I expected. I’m going to stick with the Packers. I think they are the one team in the NFC that can take out both the Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons.

However, winning the NFC is one thing, winning the Super Bowl is another. I predicted that Patriots would win Super Bowl this season and I see no reason to change that prediction.

OK, on to the first round games.

Oakland at Houston

Houston -4.0

The Oakland Raiders would have been a real threat to win the AFC, but the loss of QB Derek Carr effectively ended their hopes to reach the Super Bowl. Houston wasn’t very good this year, in large part because new QB Brock Osweiler has been a big bust. So, we have two teams here that will be offensively challenged. I think the Raiders will win, but I don’t see them to winning any more playoff games after this one.

Oakland 21 Houston 17

Detroit at Seattle

Seattle -8.0

Detroit had a pretty decent season, going 9-7, and gave the Packers some serious competition for the NFC North. However, the Lions still seem like a work in progress and  I don’t think the Lions have enough weapons to defeat the Seahawks at home, where they are extremely tough to beat.

Seattle 31, Detroit 21

Miami at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh -10.0

I think it fair to say Miami exceeded expectations this season, going 10-6 with rookie head coach Adam Gase. Well done, welcome to playoffs. The Fins are now taking a big step up facing a veteran Steelers team in cold, snowy Pittsburgh. The Steelers  were up and down at various points this season, but when they bring their A game they can complete with any team in the league.

Pittsburgh 27, Miami 14

NY Giants at Green Bay

Green Bay -4.5

This is the definitely the best of first round games. I’m conflicted here because I am a big NY Giants fan, but predicted that the Packers would go all the way to the Super Bowl. The Giants excellent defense gives them a chance against any team in the league, but they catching a Packers team that is peaking at the right time. Giants WR O’Dell Beckham will be a problem for Green Bay, but I don’t see the G-Men putting up enough points to win this game. I won’t be real disappointed if I’m wrong because that will set-up a very interesting 3rd game vs the Cowboys. The Giants, of course, were the only team to beat the Cowboys during the regular season,

Green Bay 24, New York 17















My 2016 NFL Predictions


Here are my picks for each Division:


AFC East: New England. Hard to seriously consider any only teams in the AFC East as long as Bill Belichick is coaching and Tom Brady is playing QB. I think the NY Jets will also be good, too. I predict the Jets will secure a wild-card slot for the play-offs.

AFC North: Pittsburgh–Tough choice. In the end I had pick between the Steelers and Bengals. Not much separating these teams, but I have a little more confidence in Big Ben and the Steeler’s offense than I do Andy Dalton and the Bengal’s offensive, especially in view of the fact that Cincy installed a new Offensive Coordinator for this season. The Bengals offense may indeed improve, but that is a question mark. That said, I think both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will make the play-offs.

AFC South: Houston. The addition of Brock Osweiler gives the Texans that advantage in this this division. The JJ Watt lead defense has always kept them in the hunt for the division, but if Houston can field a decent offense it will make them truly dangerous. Brock may make a formidable all-around team.

AFC West: Kansas City-Can’t pick Denver, the defending SB champ’s, because they have no proven players at the QB position with the retirement of Peyton Manning.

NFC East: Washington-I think this weak division will come down to battle between the Washington Redskins and NY Giants. I can’t see Philadelphia winning the division with a rookie QB and Dallas may be in same boat, with starting QB Tony Romo out for at least 6 games.

NFC North: Green Bay.-Gotta go with Packers. I expect Detroit and Minn. to be competitive, but I see the Packers as the best team in the division. Rodgers still one of the QB’s in the league, if not the best. The return of star WR Jordy Nelson is big for the Packers.

NFC South: Carolina.-No contest here. The NFC Champs should win this division easily.However, I expect the Panthers to suffer a few more losses this season than they did last season because they caught the league by surprise last season and opposing teams were not as well prepared for them as they will this season.

NFC West: Seattle-A toss up here. Very difficult to pick between Seattle and Arizona.

AFC Conference Champion: New England–Steelers, Bengals, as well as Kansas City and possibly Denver could provide tough tests to the Patriots in the play-0ffs. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots fare will Jimmy G at QB. If they go 2-2 with Garoppolo at the helm I think there a good chance that they will be able to amass the best record in the AFC and secure home field advantage in the play-offs and that will be important.

NFC Conference Champion: Green Bay–I think there are at least four teams that have a good shot at winning the NFC. In  addition to Packers I would add Arizona, Seattle and, of course, the defending NFC champions, the Carolina Panthers. I won’t be at all surprised if any of those wins the NFC, I’m going to go with the Packers.

Superbowl Champion: New England–Any doubts about Belichick and Brady both being GOAT’s  will be put to rest when the Patriots win Super Bowl LI in Houston.

My Prediction for Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots 27 Seahawks 24

Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Line: New England -1 over Seattle

Under/Over 47.5 pts

Well, I must say that I can toot my own horn a little bit even before the Superbowl has been played because I predicted that the Seahawks would meet the Patriots in the Championship game way back on September 4, 2014, in my preseason NFL blog post. Please feel free to check it out. Just go to my archives, select NFL and you will find it. the post ends like this:

Superbowl Champion: New England. I think the Patriots may be the only team in the NFL that can beat both Denver and Seattle. I think a strong case can be made for the Seahawks too. I think the Seahawks are definitely capable of repeating as Champ’s. I also think Denver is very capable of returning to the Superbowl. To be perfectly honest, I’m picking the Patriots based on a scenario in which everything goes right for them by the time the playoffs roll around. I don’t think there are too many coaches in the NFL right now that can figure out a way to beat both Denver and Seattle, but Bill Belichick is one of them. Maybe Jim Harbaugh too.

Well, as the excerpt above indicates, I expected the Broncos to face New England in the AFC Championship and I thought the 49ers might pose a serious challenge in the NFC. So, I was off on those two predictions, way off on the Niners, but I’m happy that the teams I predicted to go all the way to SB are here now. Although, I will also admit that picking SEA and NE was not exactly a high risk proposition because I think those two teams were two of about half a dozen teams that figured to be real contenders in the preseason. Now, if I had picked Indy and Dallas to meet in the SB and they actually made it, that would have been really impressive, but I had to be realistic about my selections. There can be only two teams and I got’em it right.

The Patriots made it to AFC Championship game last season despite losing several key players on both offense and defense (Gronkowski, Wilfork, Mayo, chief among them) to injury during the course of season. I figured if the Patriots stayed healthy this season they would definitely be capable of returning to the SB. Unfortunately, the Pats did lose LB Mayo again and they had to deal with a few injuries on the O-line during the course of the season, but this team was relatively healthy this season. Most importantly, All-World TE Rob Gronkowski avoided major injury and had a spectacular season. I think that was a major key to the success that NE enjoyed this season. I think Gronkowski and the other NE TE’s will pose a serious threat to Seattle’s secondary, the vaunted Legion of Boom. In losses that Seattle suffered to San Diego and Dallas during the regular season the TE’s for those teams did some real damage, scoring 5 TD’s in total. Gronkowski is the best at the position right now so he should do well. If Seattle concentrates on stopping Gronk other players should be open and Brady will find them.

Another key to the Patriots return has been the improvement of their defense. The Pats defense is not in the same class as the Seahawks, of course, but it is very solid. I think NE’s D should be up to the task of keeping Seattle from scoring 24 points or more and if they can do that they should stand a very good chance of winning the game because I just don’t think Seattle’s D, as good as it is, even with the Legion of Boom, can shut down the Pats passing attack. Yes, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and QB Russell Wilson present serious challenges on the ground, but I think they can be contained. Lynch may run for a hundred yards or so, but don’t think we will see Russell Wilson running wild, at least not beyond the line of scrimmage. I think the Pats will definitely assign a spy to Wilson and keep him under control.

Coming into this season I thought the Seahawks had dynasty potential. They essentially kept their core group of stars together and they are not an old team. I think the Seahawks could be a SB contender for the next 3 to 5 years. If Seattle wins this game we will immediately see all sorts of stories in the sports media about the Seahawks becoming a dynasty team and that will be justified if they repeat here. I admire the job head coach Pete Carroll has done with team and I like many of the players on this Seahawks team, even the braggadocious CB Richard Sherman. I really don’t mind players who talk, if they can back it up and Sherman does most of the time.

With 37 year old QB Tom Brady in final stage of great career the window to win a championship for Pats may only last a couple more years, unless Pats 2nd string rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be a star (he might be, he’s displayed flashes of superior ability in the few short periods he has been on field). However, I think just one more SB win will significantly impact the legacy of both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They will both be going into the Hall of Fame regardless of the outcome of this game, but another ring here will bolster the arguments for them to be considered, respectively, the greatest coach of all time and the greatest QB of all time. Another Lombardi Trophy win for New England would give them 4 and that definitely would put them in the upper echelon of teams that have won multiple championships in the NFL, joining teams the Giants and Packers, who each have 4. The Steelers have 6, the Cowboys and Niners have 5 each, so that will give the Patriots something very big to shoot for if they can win it all today.

I think this game will end one of three ways: Big win by the Patriots (victory by 14 pts plus), Narrow win by the Seahawks (3 pt victory) or Narrow win by Patriots. I think a narrow win by the Patriots is the most likely outcome.

Final Score: Patriots 27, Seahawks 24


Final Score: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

Wow, what a game! I’m happy that the Pats won and that my final score prediction was pretty darn close, although I’m perfectly willing to concede there was some luck involved. Seattle was clearly in a position to win in the final minutes and they blew it, but those are the breaks of the game.

All in all, it was a great game between two pretty evenly matched teams. It was what you hope the SB will be.