This has been a unique National Football League season that has turned the NFL upside down with preseason Super Bowl favorites below .500 and teams that had top 10 draft picks in May preparing for the playoffs.
My playoff predictions are that the Dallas Cowboys make a late-season push combined with some Philadelphia Eagles losses to take the one seed in the NFL and get a home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. I predict that the Minnesota Vikings will practically win out but the Cowboys will have the tiebreaker so the Vikings keep the two-seed. The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in football and will keep the three-seed followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning a horrible division where they will only need about seven or eight wins to do so. The Vikings, 49ers and Bucs all have practically no competition in their divisions and will all win those divisions relatively easily.
The NFC East however is shaking up to be one of the best divisions in NFL history if things keep up. They will likely send at least three teams to the playoffs, possibly four if the New York Giants and Washington Commanders finish strong. Whichever team doesn’t win the division between the Eagles and Cowboys will take the five-seed and travel to Tampa to face the Bucs. The six and seven seeds will be a battle between the Giants, Commanders, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons. The Giants and Commanders sit there now after both Seattle and Atlanta lost this past Sunday with the Giants holding just a half-game lead on the Commanders and a one-game lead on Seattle with Seattle holding the tiebreaker. Things are not shaping up well for the Giants as they are looking like the odd man out dealing with their plethora of injuries and a tough end-of-year schedule. However, I think they pull it out and travel to Minnesota as the seven-seed with Geno Smith leading Seattle to the six-seed and heading to San Francisco.
Seattle will get dominated by San Francisco with Ken Walker III being bottled up and Geno not being able to keep up with all of the weapons that Jimmy Garappolo has on offense. The Giants however will upset the Vikings with a strong run defense and Kirk Cousins being himself in primetime along with a strong rushing attack from the Giants allowing them to advance. The other game will consist of Tom Brady being Tom Brady and eliminating Philadelphia with a stellar performance of checking it down and a dominating defense from Tampa.
The divisional round will have the Giants traveling to San Francisco and losing to San Fran who is more talented at every position except running back and quarterback but the margins are too small there leading to the Giants’ season-ending. Tampa will then take on Dallas and lose leading to a vintage 90s NFC Championship consisting of the 49ers at Dallas. San Francisco will edge out a victory and head to the Super Bowl.
The American Football Conference will have the Kansas City Chiefs once again take the top seed and have the road to the Super Bowl go through Arrowhead Stadium. The two-seed will be taken by the Buffalo Bills as they retake the division lead from the Miami Dolphins who will be the five-seed. The AFC South is looking like the Titans will be good enough to beat out the rest of the mediocre division. The AFC North is a bit more interesting with Cincinnati Bengals heating up and getting Ja’marr Chase back plus the Cleveland Browns getting Deshaun Watson coming off his suspension. Even with Watson back the Browns are too far back to contend for the division or wild card and the Bengals take the division over the Ravens grabbing the three-seed from the Titans. The Dolphins, New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers will take the wildcard with the Patriots and Ravens on the outside looking in.
The seven-seed Chargers will travel to Buffalo in what should be a great game with Buffalo taking the edge and advancing. The six-seeded Jets will go to Cincinnati where they will defeat the reigning AFC Champion Bengals and advance with Mike White leading the charge. The Dolphins will take on the Titans and dominate in a game where the Fin’s offense stays too hot for the Titans to handle.
The Jets will end their season in Arrowhead losing to the Chiefs with quarterback Mike White not being able to keep up with Patrick Mahomes. The Dolphins will head to Buffalo for a divisional clash where Buffalo wins in a shootout leading to the rematch from one of the best games in NFL history, Chiefs vs Bills. Buffalo takes the edge in my opinion winning a close game that goes to overtime with Buffalo winning this time around.
This brings us to a 49ers vs Bills Super Bowl which will be a great game. The 49ers take the Lombardi Trophy home with an old-school battle where the 49ers rely on their running game and defense to win with Jimmy making some big throws here and there. The Bills fall short again, and the 49ers have another QB controversy after Jimmy wins them a Super Bowl when he is just supposed to be keeping the seat warm for Trey Lance. The NFL season ends in spectacular fashion after a very exciting and fun season.
In my opinion, this NFL season has truly been one of a kind. It is good to be proven wrong sometimes, as this year has definitely been the case. Many teams that experts had dismissed have been outperforming expectations, whereas teams that were expected to make some noise have fallen flat. For instance, no one would have expected the Green Bay Packers, who have had one of the best quarterbacks over the past decade in Aaron Rodgers, and the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams to be on the outside looking in with 4-8 and 3-8 records, respectively. Even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have arguably the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady, have a losing record of 5-6.
On the other hand, there have been teams who have had strong breakout seasons. Who would have thought that the Minnesota Vikings would be sitting comfortably in first place with a 9-2 record? Who would have thought that the Seattle Seahawks, who traded away their longtime franchise face in quarterback Russell Wilson after their first losing season in thirteen years, would be in the playoff hunt with longtime backup quarterback Geno Smith possessing a 6-5 record? And finally, who would have thought that every team in the NFC East, which not too long ago was ridiculed as being one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, would see every team holding a playoff spot along with the worst team holding a 7-5 record?
This is why I think the playoffs are going to be a bloodbath this year, and with the way things are playing out, I see the Chiefs snagging the top spot in the AFC. Even though I believe that they are the most complete team in the NFL, the Bills will finish second while capturing the AFC East. The Bengals will take the third seed as the AFC North champions, while the Titans will claim the fourth seed in a very weak AFC South. The wild-card spots are up in the air, but I see the Dolphins as a safe bet of taking the top wild-card spot, while the final two spots are toss-ups. Right now, if you’d ask me who I think will take the last two wild card spots, I would plug in the Chargers and the Patriots.
On the NFC side, the Eagles will snag the top spot while the up-and-coming Vikings finish right behind them at two. San Francisco will take the third seed in a decimated NFC West while the Buccaneers will sneak in as the fourth seed in an even worse NFC South. Once mocked by NFL fans as the “NFC Least” for being one of the worst divisions in football just two short years ago, the NFC East has turned into the “NFC Beast.” The final three wild card spots will all be held by NFC East teams, going in the order of the Cowboys, Giants and Commanders.
On Super Wild Card weekend, there will be a total of six games, with three in each conference. The AFC side of the bracket will feature matchups between the Patriots and Bills in Buffalo, Chargers and Bengals in Cincinnati and the Dolphins and Titans in Tennessee. The Patriots-Bills matchup will have the same results as last year’s playoff showdown, a blowout win for the Bills who now possess far more superior talent than the Patriots. The Bengals will defeat the Chargers on the back of quarterback Joe Burrow, a player known to come up clutch in big moments. The Dolphins will take the win in Tennessee, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connecting with his two elite wide receivers, Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, in a strong offensive performance.
The NFC side features contests between the Commanders and Vikings in Minnesota, the 49ers and Giants in San Francisco, and the Cowboys and Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. The Vikings, led by former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, get the easy win at home. The Giants fall to the 49ers in a low-scoring affair, with the 49ers proving that their offense is a little too much for the Giants’ defense to handle, especially after being ravaged by injuries. Finally, the Buccaneers squeak past the Cowboys thanks to late-game heroics by Tom Brady.
This then moves us on to the divisional round, as the AFC matchups consist of the Dolphins and Chiefs in Kansas City and the Bengals and Bills in Buffalo. Even though they put up a spirited effort, the Dolphins will conclude their breakout season in Kansas City as they run into a far more experienced Chiefs team. The Bengals and Bills will battle in an offensive shootout, with Josh Allen and the Bills coming out on top. The NFC side features showdowns between the Buccaneers and Eagles in Philadelphia and the 49ers and Vikings in Minnesota. Even though they currently possess the top record in the NFL, the Eagles will fall flat in an upset against the Buccaneers while running out of gas in the process. The 49ers will also upset the Vikings in Minnesota as they also find a way to upset a higher-ranked opponent on the road.
The championship games between the Bills versus the Chiefs and the 49ers against the Bucs all prove to be exciting games, but in their own ways. The Bills and Chiefs game will be a bloodbath, as two of the NFL’s most dynamic quarterbacks face off in a high-scoring game that unfortunately has one of them losing. This year, the loser will be Patrick Mahomes as Josh Allen leads his squad to the Super Bowl for the first time in nearly three decades. The 49ers and Bucs both put on strong defensive performances as the Niners find a way to pull out the victory in Tampa off of excellent game management from quarterback Jimmy Garrapollo.
The Super Bowl will feature the likes of the Bills and 49ers at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. as the Bills win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. They win by two possessions as Josh Allen is named Super Bowl MVP and the defense puts on just as strong of performance with Von Miller contributing by registering three sacks. The NFL season ends on a high note with incredible plays and high levels of excitement and parity.