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Which Teams Will Make the NFL Playoffs?

By David Hirschhorn and Avery Monette in OP-ED

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Ezekiel Elliott

We are more than halfway through this NFL season and it has proved to be very interesting. Every year, we see some surprise teams and players perform very differently from the expectations that were set out for them. We are at the point of the season which can make or break the playoff hopes of teams. This year there seems to be a major difference between good and bad divisions. There are divisions like the AFC West for example that have the potential to field three playoff teams while the AFC South will feature one really mediocre team. We think the playoff system needs a change, but that’s a subject for another time. For now, let’s talk playoffs and who is in, and who is out.

 

David’s Picks:

 

American Football Conference

  1. New England Patriots -- With the exception of the Sunday Night game vs. the Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady has been typical Tom Brady: magnificent. The Patriots once again look like a favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. At this point of the season, they look like the team to beat in the AFC. Although most people at Fairview are Broncos fans, every single person we surveyed predicts that the Patriots will make the playoffs.

  2. Kansas City Chiefs -- Now, make sure you are sitting down while reading this hot take. I AM a Broncos fan just to be clear but looking at the rest of season schedule for the three teams in the AFC West, I think Kansas City has the easiest path to winning the division. Spencer Ware really has emerged as the replacement of Jamaal Charles and looks like the complete package at running back. Also, the Kansas City defense has always looked good, but this year they look better than ever. The only hole of the Chiefs looks to be their QB and WR play but hey, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl last season with horrendous play at QB.

  3. Pittsburgh Steelers -- The Steelers right now do not look like the best team in the AFC North, but I attribute most of that failure to the injury to Ben Roethlisberger and the early suspension to Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers, like the Patriots and the Broncos, are a familiar face on the AFC side to see in the playoffs. The second half of this season, I think Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell will return to their dominating form. The biggest question is can their defense hold up and stop prolific offenses?

  4. Houston Texans -- Look, I am the biggest advocate of the “Brock Osweiler is the Worst QB in the NFL” campaign, but this is THE WORST division in the NFL. The Texans still have Lamar Miller, who I believe is a top-five running back in the league when used properly. If the Texans want to make the playoffs, they have to realize that Lamar can be a workhorse and that Osweiler sucks. They will make the playoffs working off Lamar Miller and their JJ Watt-less defense.

  5. Denver Broncos -- Even though the majority of you readers are Broncos fans, it still might come as a surprise that I have the Broncos over the Raiders. The Broncos will have the third best record in the AFC, but the flawed seeding system of the playoffs will have them as the fifth seed. This season looks very similar to last year with struggling QB play, a decent ground game, and an excellent defense. Trevor Siemian has been better than I thought he’d be but still he is a mediocre QB. The defense is top-three in the league and will once again lead the Broncos in the playoffs.

  6. Oakland Raiders -- The drought is over Oakland! Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree have created a dynamic offense that now needs to be taken seriously across the league. The Raiders defense will improve week-by-week and the Raiders will make the playoffs this year. They still have a really hard schedule for the rest of the season so that is why I have them making the playoffs, but finishing third in the loaded AFC West.

 

National Football Conference

  1. Dallas Cowboys -- The defense still remains a question mark but boy is that offense good. Dak Prescott looks like a star as do Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Also, it helps when you have the best offensive line in football plowing mile wide lanes to run and giving you years to throw the football. Another team that every person surveyed had confidence in to make the playoffs was the Cowboys. The Cowboys have been and will continue to be great for the rest of the season and I can’t believe I’m saying it, but Dallas will be the #1 seed in the NFC.

  2. Seattle Seahawks -- The win over New England made a huge statement that the Bad Boy Seahawks are back. Russell Wilson seems to be Mr. Second Half as he is back to his old form. The defense is filled with the old Seahawk Swagger. They look hungry and along with the Cowboys as the two teams to beat in the NFC.

  3. Atlanta Falcons -- Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have been dethroned as Kings of the NFC South but Matt Ryan, Julio Jones & Co. look like they will return to the playoffs. Matt Ryan leads the NFL in passing yards while Julio Jones leads the NFL in receiving yards. I have been really surprised by the season Matt Ryan has had this year and the Falcons will be a playoff team again.

  4. Green Bay Packers -- Similar to last year, the Packers are struggling at this time of the season but they will somehow figure things out and make the playoffs winning the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is a terrific quarterback and leader and should be able to lead this team to the playoffs.

  5. Minnesota Vikings -- They started out the year with a boom going 5-0 but have since lost their last four games. They have a reasonably tough schedule to go but they will have Adrian Peterson back really soon to help ease the burden at the running back position. Injuries have plagued this team all season but once they start getting guys back, they should be a playoff team.

  6. New York Giants -- This is the year that Eli Manning will finally get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 when they last won the Super Bowl. Manning has been playing great the past few weeks and should continue the great play throughout the next few weeks against some bad defenses like the Cleveland Browns. The Giants should sneak in the playoffs.

 
 

Avery’s Picks:

 

American Football Conference

  1. New England Patriots -- Once again we see the New England Patriots are a top of the AFC, and most importantly the NFL. The Patriots have won 7 division titles in a row and I would expect nothing less of Tom Brady and the Patriots. I not only expect them to win the division, but I expect them to be the best team in the AFC and compete to be Super Bowl Champions.

  2. Oakland Raiders -- No one ever thought the Oakland Raiders would be a team people would talk about come the end of the season, but here we are the Raiders are now potential AFC West champions. I believe not only will the Raiders will win there division I think they can make a deep run into the playoffs.

  3. Pittsburgh Steelers -- I believe the Steelers are the team to watch come playoff time, their record does not show it at the moment but they are one of the better teams in the NFL, and will continue to show that within the last few weeks of the regular season.

  4. Houston Texans -- The Texans are not a good team by any means, but they happen to be the best team in their division and because of their easy schedule, they will be the AFC South champs and by default make the playoffs.

  5. Kansas City Chiefs -- The wild card is going to be a close race come the end of the season but for the Chiefs they shouldn’t be worried because they pretty much have a spot in the playoffs whether that comes from a division championship or from having the best record of any other team in the AFC. Surprisingly, most people that we surveyed didn’t think the Chiefs would make the playoffs.

  6. Miami Dolphins -- One of the bigger surprises this season has been the Dolphins, With some good plays, 4 wins, and a little bit of fairy dust I believe we will be seeing a wild card spot filled by Miami.        

 

National Football Conference

  1. Dallas Cowboys -- It’s the rookie show in Dallas, Dak and Ezekiel Elliott are absolutely stunning the NFL in every way shape and form. Dallas is a team that always chokes when it comes playoff time and I expect nothing differently from them this season. They’ll make the playoffs by a landslide but not much further than that.

  2. Seattle Seahawks -- The Seahawks are one team that always find themselves a top the division, and rightfully so. I really like the seahawks coming into the playoffs, with their playoff experience and momentum, the Seahawks are my pick for NFC champions this year.

  3. Minnesota Vikings -- The Vikings started as one of the hottest teams in the NFL at the beginning of the season and continued to show they were a top team in the the NFC. As the season progressed they slipped and now find themselves in the middle of the division. I believe they will find their groove with playoffs approaching and find themselves in the mix of teams competing for a Super Bowl.

  4. Atlanta Falcons -- The high powered falcons offense is the reason they are in this position. The duo of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is practically unstoppable, they have so many weapons it's hard for any defense to compete against. The only reason the Falcons won’t win their division is the defense.

  5. New York Giants -- The Giants are very unlucky because they happen to be in the same division as the Cowboys so they can’t possibly win the division and automatically get a playoff spot. Having the second best record in the NFC doesn't really help when the top team in your league has the best. The Giants were a team with a lot of hesitation when asked if they would make the playoffs. The students surveyed for the most part thought that the Giants would make the playoffs but there were some major question marks associated with this team.

  6. Washington Redskins -- The Redskins have had a couple easy wins slip through their fingers, even so the Redskins find themselves fighting for the last wild card spot in the NFC and I believe they can easily make it if they play their cards right.              

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