NFL Playoff Predictions (Final Records + Individual Game Results)
We are now 11 weeks into the 2016 NFL season and it looks like both the NFC and AFC playoff races will once again go down to the wire.
It is a given that the Dallas Cowboys (9-1) and Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) will make the playoffs and most likely have first-round byes being the one and two seeds, respectively. However, division titles are up for grabs in the NFC North and NFC South. It seems as though the New York Giants (7-3), Washington Redskins (6-3-1) and Minnesota Vikings (6-4) are the three teams that will be competing for wildcard spots. Thus, with only two wildcard spots available, one of these three teams--assuming no other NFC team competes for a wildcard spot--will miss the playoffs.
With only six weeks left in the regular season, it is time to predict what the NFC playoff picture will look like after week 17.
The Seahawks will win the NFC West with ease. The only other team that could compete with the Seahawks is the Arizona Cardinals, a team that I have finishing with an 8-7-1 record, well behind the Seahawks.
I see the Seahawks winning out in their next six games. They play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers. Wins over the Packers and Cardinals won't be easy, but I see the Seahawks taking care of business and earning a first-round bye as the two seed in the NFC.
Just like the case with the Seahawks in the NFC West, I don't see a way that the Atlanta Falcons lose this division. The New Orleans Saints will come in second in the division with a record of 8-8, three games behind the Falcons, a team that I have finishing with an impressive 11-5 record.
I have the Falcons finishing the season winning five out of their remaining six games, with wins over the Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Rams (twice), and 49ers. Their sole loss will come against the Seattle Seahawks. This division belongs to the Falcons.
Unlike the NFC South and NFC West, this division will come down the the final week of the season. Surprisingly, I have neither the Detroit Lions nor the Packers making the playoffs. Instead, the Vikings will finish the season strong and retain the division title.
The Vikings will finish the season with a 10-6 record with wins over the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears. They will be defeated by the Indianapolis Colts and the Packers.
The Packers will come in second in the division with a final record of 8-8. They will defeat the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, and Minnesota Vikings. Their two losses will come at the hands of the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks.
Finally, the Lions will come finish third in the division with the same 8-8 record as the Packers. They will defeat the Bears and Packers, winning just two games of their final six games. They will suffer losses to the Vikings, Saints, Giants, and Cowboys.
Here we go. The NFC East will be named the best division in the NFL finishing with a total record of 40-23-1 compared to the AFC West's final record of 40-24. Big difference, I know. Regardless, this division will have the most competitive race between any two teams in the NFL. That race will be between the Giants and the Redskins.
To start, I will go through the Cowboys remaining schedule, as I have them easily winning the division, earning a first-round bye in the playoffs as the one seed, and also claiming the best record in the NFL (tied with the New England Patriots) at 14-2. Wins will come against the Redskins, Giants, Buccaneers, Lions, and Eagles. Their one loss will be to the Minnesota Vikings, as stated above. Many will disagree with me and argue that the Cowboys will handily defeat the Vikings. However, I think the Vikings match up perfectly with this offensive-minded Cowboys team and escape with the win at their new stadium.
As for the Redskins, they will finish with a 10-5-1 record, stealing the fifth seed away from the Giants. They will come out victorious over the Eagles, Panthers, Bears, and Giants while losing to the Cowboys and Cardinals.
The Giants will finish with a 10-6 record, claiming the final spot in the NFC playoff picture. They will defeat the Cleveland Browns, Lions, and Eagles while losing to the Steelers, Cowboys, and Redskins. The good news for Giants fans is that this is likely the worst-case-scenario as a win over the Steelers and/or Redskins is very realistic.
The Steelers should have no trouble winning this division. Though they currently hold a sketchy 5-5 record, neither the Bengals nor the Ravens will compete with the Steelers, as I have these two teams finishing with a 7-8-1 and a 7-9 record, respectively.
The Steelers will defeat the Colts, Giants, Browns, Bengals, and Redskins. Their only loss will come against the Buffalo Bills. This is easily the worst division in the league, which is the only reason why the Steelers will make the playoffs.
This is a close number two when it comes to the worst division in football. I have the Colts making the playoffs just one game above .500 with a record of 9-7. The Texans will compete for the division title but will fall short with a final record of 8-8. As for the Texans, I won't go through the rest of their schedule, but they won't be too far behind these two teams, as they will finish with a 7-9 record.
The Colts will beat the New York Jets, Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars. Their two losses will come against the Steelers and Raiders.
Meanwhile, the Titans will finish the season winning three of their remaining five games. Wins will come against the Bears, Jaguars, and Texans. They will be defeated by the Broncos and Raiders.
Here is another division that will be easily won, in this case, by the Patriots. Don't be so quick to forget about the Bills who will quietly compete for the sixth seed in the playoffs, though ultimately falling short.
The Patriots will win-out, earning the one seed in the playoffs along with a first-round bye, by defeating the Jets twice, Rams, Ravens, Broncos, and Dolphins.
The Bills will come close but once again miss the playoffs. They will defeat the Jaguars, Steelers, Browns, Dolphins, and Jets. Their only loss will come against the Raiders. Keep an eye on the Bills, a team that has been overlooked all season but will compete for a playoff spot.
Finally, the second best division in football, the AFC West. Just like the NFC East, this division will have three teams making the playoffs, the division winner and both wildcard teams. The Raiders will easily come away with the division title, earning the two seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Broncos have a tough road ahead of them, but will both make the playoffs as the five and six seeds, respectively.
The Raiders will win five of their remaining six games. These wins will come against the Panthers, Bills, Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, and Colts. Their only loss will come against the division rival Broncos. The Raiders will be very pleased to finish the season with a 13-3 record.
The Chiefs will claim the five seed in the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Wins over the Broncos (twice), Titans, and Chargers will seal the deal and push them into the playoffs. Losses will come against the Falcons and Raiders.
As for the 2015 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, they will finish the season at 10-6, returning to the playoffs once again. Wins will come against the Jaguars, Titans, and Raiders. Their three final losses will come against the Chiefs (twice) and Patriots.
Make sure to check back in the beginning of January for my playoff predictions (and probably to brag about which of these predictions were correct).