EDIT: I am officially an idiot. Carolina is the #1 seed in the NFC and NYG is the #2. I have amended my predictions accordingly
The playoffs are here! It’s crazy!
I’m writing a post! It’s crazy! I know, I know. I’m sorry. It’s been a rough year, both timewise and otherwise, and my attention has been elsewhere.
In fairness to myself, I wrote a full and detailed apology, followed by a 3.5 hours treatise analyzing the playoff chances of 16 total teams before the season’s final week, as well as a detailed recap of the previous two. I clicked save draft. I shut my computer. I came back Thanksgiving morning to edit and post and found that I had only the first paragraph. I was demoralized, and had neither the heart nor the time to duplicate either the apology or the treatise.
So, as they say in Canada, “Sorry ‘boot that that!”
Anyway, ya hosers, thanks for sticking with me, and I am hear to predict the playoffs. A little drama in the commishing world today, so it’s Thursday night after games have started. “Sorry ‘boot that.”
In any case, here goes nothing!
#1 – Bye – Carolina Panthers
#2 – Bye – New York Football Giants
#3 Detroit Lions vs. #6 New… wait… Phil… wait.. New Orl!… wait. nope. It’s Philadelphia. It’s the Philadelphia Eagles.
After stat correction mayhem featuring the New Orleans Saints vs (ironically) these very same Detroit Lions, the Lions prevail in their final match of the season against the Saints and avoid a rematch, getting the Eagles instead.
It’s worth noting at this point that absolutely nobody has ever gotten more screwed by stat corrections than the New Orleans Saints, who had the only undefeated regular season in real deal history in 2013 – until they lost it in a stat correction the final week of the season. The constant state of anxiety Saints fans feel about Monday and Tuesday stat changes is downright legit.
The metrics, needless to say, like Detroit in this wildcard matchup. The Lions are 6 overall in fantasy points, the Eagles 13th. The Lions have the 7th ranked offense and 13th ranked Defense, while the Eagles are 12th and 18th respectively. The last time the Eagles outscored the Lions on an individual week was week 9. Add to all this that the Eagles have four starters questionable with injuries (not even talking about Jamaal Charles) and 10 ppg DT Jurrell Casey on bye. It’s rough. The Lions, to be fair, also have a #1 RB in Ameer Abdullah on the IR, and do lose Jaime Collins on bye. However, with Leonard Floyd returning to practice, it’s a much better week for the Lions, who have played better both all season and the last few weeks.
#4 Arizona Cardinals vs. #5 Atlanta Falcons
A classic example of the highest seed not necessarily being the better team, the Cardinals cruised through the year to an easy championship in a weak NFC West. The Falcons faced the exact opposite challenge, warring to a wild card in RDFL’s hardest division. The metrics in this one all point the Falcons way, though. Atlanta is 9th in fantasy points scored compared to Arizona’s 16th. The Falcons also have better offensive and defense metrics, finishing 11th on offense and 6th on defense. The Cardinals are consistent, coming in at a solid 16th on offense and 15th on defense. It’s got to be a little hard to win a playoff game when Ryan Fitzpatrick is your quarterback, but that defense is downright excellent and the receiving core of Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, John Brown, and Mohamed Sanu are going to be tough to beat in the playoffs. Arizona hasn’t scored 200 points since week 2 and hasn’t scored 100 points on either offense or defense since week 4. Just like in the other NFC playoff game, both the long-term and short-term trends predict an obvious result.
#1 – Buffalo Bills (246 patients in week #12 with all those injuries…)
#2 – Baltimore Ravens (nothing like a 12 game winning streak, eh?)
#3 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #6 Cleveland Browns
After winning the tie-breaker of the century through head-to-head victories and a brutal Tennessee Titans collapse down the stretch, and benefiting heavily from Pittsburgh forfeits, the Browns heroically claim the wildcard for a playoff berth… only to have a week #13 wild card round bye. My goodness. That is stinking horrible, as the Browns are only one of two teams with a scheduling quirk week 13 bye. It costs them star running back Isaiah Crowell, starting TE Gary Barnidge, and four defensive starters. Ouch. Cleveland’s strength all year has been its quietly underrated #4 ranked offense, compensating for a porous (#20 overall) defense. It’s going to be hard to maintain that without Crowell and Barnidge, but the Browns have been proving people wrong all year. They’ll need a huge game from their passing attack of Blake Bortles, Marvin Jones, Jeremy Maclin, MIchael Crabtree, and Mike Evans. The Chiefs, on the other hand, will be without Jordan Reed yet again, but totally avoid byes. The Chiefs scored the most points in the AFC in the regular season and have a top 6 offense and defense… it’s the sort of game KC should win hands down… but it’s also the sort of game where you almost want to pick Cleveland for just that reason.
Prediction (Oh man I hate to do this to myself!): Kansas City
#4 Houston Texans vs. #5 New England Patriots
A pair of two of the quietest really good teams you will ever see will rematch in the wild card round. The two hooked up in a nice week 3 game that New England won 211-193 behind 6 defensive takeaways (3 picks, 3 forced fumbles). Jameis Winston and Carlos Hyde went nuts to keep the Texans close, but couldn’t quite close the gap. Both teams hang their hats on offense, (Houston #5, New England #9) and try to keep their defenses off the field (New England #17, Houston #21). New England loses Delanie Walker, their star TE, and Damien Stafford to bye weeks – but its not as much as a curse as it might seem – Cameron Brate, Walker’s replacement, threw down 27 against Houston in week 3. A repeat of that would not be amiss at all. Still, Houston has been one of the best teams in the league after a slow start, reeling off a whole passel of wins behind an outstanding offense, and they are totally healthy and facing no bye losses.
For the record, here’s how I expect the playoffs to play out in total:
Wild Card Round:
Detroit over Philadelphia
Atlanta over Arizona
Kansas City over Cleveland
Houston over New England
Carolina over Atlanta
New York Giants over Detroit
Buffalo over Houston
Baltimore over Kansas City
New York Giants over Carolina
Baltimore over Buffalo (injuries finally catch up)
New York Giants over Baltimore
Good luck in the playoffs everyone!