It is getting that time of year again. Midway through the NFL season, a few teams have already locked in a top-2 seed while others are looking good, but still on the bubble. Here is TWN’s mid-season predictions for what the NFL Playoffs will look like come January 2019.
AFC Seeds 1-6
#1 New England Patriots
Many people would have the Kansas City Chiefs in this position at this point of the season, but we all forget that the Patriots still have the greatest quarterback of all time and arguably one of the greatest head coaches of all time leading the pack. Right now the Patriots sit a game back from the Chiefs, but they already own the head to head against them. The Chiefs, sure they didn’t have Mahomes, have struggled in recent years in the second half of seasons. The Pats also have an easier schedule for the rest of the season than the Chiefs. The Chiefs have to play the Rams, Chargers, and Seahawks all in their next eight games, while the Patriots only have two tough games the rest of the year. This gives more than enough room for the Patriots to catch or even surpass Kansas City for the number one seed.
#2 Kansas City Chiefs
Even though I don’t have them in as the one seed, I do have them locked in for at least a two seed. Kansas City has looked unstoppable up to this point of the season. They might have the best quarterback in the league, and a tough, hard-hitting running back in Kareem Hunt, not to mention receivers named Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. The only reason they are a two seed in my eyes is that convincing me they can beat out Brady for the one seed will be tough; also their defense is a concern. Besides that, the Chiefs are moving in the right direction.
#3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Coming in as my third seed in the playoffs is the Steelers. They have come across a bit of drama this season which could’ve distracted them, but it seems to have passed at this point in the season. They have replaced Le’veon Bell with second-year player James Conner who averages around 4.7 yards per carry and is coming off three straight 100 plus yard games. The Steelers are the most solid team in the AFC North, and I would expect them to beat out the Houston Texans for the third seed.
#4 Houston Texans
The Texans are one of the most up and down franchises right now in the NFL. Losing their first three games and then winning their next five is an exciting way to get to 5-3. Leading the way for the Texans is Deshaun Watson who struggled a bit at the beginning of the season as he came off the IR last season this is understandable. He has picked it up, however, the rest of the season and is leading his Texans on a path straight to the playoffs.
#5 Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers may be disappointed that they are stuck with the Kansas City Chiefs in their division. Besides that, they are being led by a tier one quarterback and have a 5-2 record. They do have a tough test on the road this week against the Seahawks, but if they can continue to play as well as they have, I wouldn’t see a reason why they couldn’t be playing in the wildcard or even making a Super Bowl run.
#6 Cincinnati Bengals
Picking the Bengals was a tough decision. The Bengals have looked good this year on Offense, but that is about it. They have already given up an average of 23.1 points per game on defense which is not associated with a team that usually makes the playoffs. Their offense, however, hasn’t failed to score more than that once this season. They have more work to do, but if Andy Dalton, Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, and those guys can keep it up, I see no reason why they can’t make a run into the playoffs.
AFC Bubble Teams
Baltimore Ravens | Miami Dolphins
NFC Seeds 1-6
#1 Los Angeles Rams
The Rams were an easy decision. They are 8-0 and are halfway through their season. They have looked unstoppable at times on both sides of the ball, and are cruising their way to Super Bowl LIII. They have already pretty much locked up the NFC West, and if they can get the pesky Saints off their backs, then LA will be hosting a divisional and maybe an NFC Championship in January. Sean Mcvay turned this team around right when he took over the coaching position. This only goes to show what good leadership can do for a team.
#2 New Orlean Saints
The NFC South standings might be a toss-up in 2018. You have two excellent teams in the Saints and the Panthers. What it comes down to is whether the Carolina defense can outperform the Saints Offense. These sides of the ball for these teams are both highly ranked in the NFL right now. The Saints, however, have Drew Brees who might be the most underrated QB ever to play the game and a stud running back in Kamara. That is why I think they beat out the Panthers for the division.
#3 Chicago Bears
Coming in as my third seed is the Chicago Bears. They are an extremely solid team. They have both a top ten offense and a top ten defense, as well as a solid quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. They need to pick themselves up however after a few mediocre games the past few weeks. But I think they will find a way to boost themselves into the playoffs the second half of the season on the backs of their great defense like they have done when they’ve made the playoffs in the past.
#4 Washington Redskins
The Redskins are coming off of three straight wins including a win against their division rival the Dallas Cowboys and an excellent Carolina Panthers team. The Redskins are headlining a relatively weak division this season with a 5-2 record which I think they win. They are an old team however who has received a burst of energy coming into the 2018 season. Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson have played tremendously so far, but they will slow down towards the end of the season, and that is why I think they fall to a fourth seed.
#5 Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are the third best team in the NFC right now, maybe even a top 2 team. However, like most seasons in the NFL great teams have to play road games in the playoffs because of how the playoffs are set up. The Panthers are on track for the fifth seed, but I could see them jumping to a two seed with two late games in the year against the Saints.
#6 Seattle Seahawks
Everyone thought this would be a rebuilding year for the team in the Northwest. Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll are having other plans, however. The Seahawks are 4-3 (4-1 their last five games). They look like they are ahead of schedule in replacing players on defense they lost last year. They do have a brutal month of November, but their run game is finally clicking, and their defense is fifth in yards allowed. Keep in eye on these hawks.
NFC Bubble Teams
Minnesota Vikings | Philadelphia Eagles | Green Bay Packers