Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2017-18 NFL playoff predictions (Part 2 – Divisional)



Welcome to part two of Thunderbirds101’s NFL playoff predictions. Two for four on my Wild Card predictions; missed both games on Saturday, but correctly predicted the winners of Sunday’s games, even so far as correctly deducing the number of points the New Orleans Saints will score. Let’s hope for a four-for-four outcome on the Divisional picks!

Let’s roll. 

Thunderbirds101's picks



AFC


#1 New England Patriots vs. #5 Tennessee Titans
The Patriots enjoyed a first-round bye in the playoffs after going 13-3 in the regular season. Aside from a stumble against the Miami Dolphins in early December, the Patriots are entering the playoffs with overwhelming momentum. The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile, emerged as the 22-21 comeback winners in their Wild Card game against the “it was 21-3” Kansas City Chiefs.

The Patriots are no Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady will work his magic as usual and ensure the Titans won’t have even a fighting chance.

Prediction: Patriots win, 38-18.

Result: Patriots win, 35-14.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
We turn now to live footage of the Titans:
As expected, the Titans didn't stand a chance. The Titans jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but New England scored 35 points in a row to ensure the Titans would not win the day. The Titans' O-line was repeatedly shredded, whereas the Patriots' O-line held strong throughout the game. The Patriots continue to demonstrate their exceptional capabilities; they are eager to return to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.

*

#2 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Back in October there was a disaster at Heinz Field. The Jacksonville Jaguars routed the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9, capitalizing on a catastrophic five interceptions thrown by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was the Steelers’ worst performance all season, and yet it marked a turning point. Since that dismal game, the Steelers have won ten of their last eleven games; momentum is on their side.

The Jackonville Jaguars, meanwhile, hope to repeat their trouncing of the Steelers after defeating the Buffalo Bills 10-3 in a Wild Card snoozefest. A repeat of the October rout seems unlikely.

Prediction: Steelers win, 28-21.

Result: Jaguars win, 45-42.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
At first glance, a three-point win isn't a rout. But upon closer inspection, the Jaguars shredded the Steelers. The Jaguars burst out to a 20-0 lead and converted Pittsburgh's mistakes into points. The Steelers never held the lead during the game and a fourth quarter resurgence failed as the Jaguars kicked a late field goal to keep the game out of reach. The ultimate test now awaits the Jaguars: the Patriots.

~

NFC


#1 Philadelphia Eagles vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons
The sixth seed ranking for the Atlanta Falcons is misleading. The Falcons’ defense extinguished the explosive Los Angeles Rams offense and there’s no sign of any letting up as the Falcons take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

For the Eagles, losing star quarterback Carson Wentz to a devastating ACL injury in the regular season leaves serious doubts about the team’s playoff abilities. The Falcons smothered the Rams with ease, and it seems likely they will accomplish the same against the Eagles.

Prediction: Falcons win, 31-24.

Result: Eagles win, 15-10.

T-Bird’s comments after the game
The Falcons defense showed up for the most part, but their offense did a few things in the first half before vanishing in the second half.

The Eagles defense, on the other hand, extinguished the Falcons offense and prevented the Falcons from conducting a repeat of what happened last week with the Rams.

No rematch of the Patriots and Falcons at Super Bowl 52, then.

*

#2 Minnesota Vikings vs. #4 New Orleans Saints
The Vikings, Steelers, and Patriots all had a similar story: struggle in the first few games of the season before embarking on huge winning streaks with only slight turbulence along the way. The Minnesota Vikings, however, finished 13-3 on the regular season with much less fanfare compared to the attention given to the Patriots, Steelers, and the now-eliminated Rams. The Vikings are rested and ready to go against the Saints.

The New Orleans Saints enter the Divisional round after surviving a grueling shootout against the Carolina Panthers. Drew Brees and the offense shredded the Panthers defense, but the Saints showed weaknesses at times. Still, the Saints halted the Panthers in the dying seconds of the game to win the duel. If the Saints can maintain their momentum on offense and tighten up on defense, the Saints can win this battle.

Prediction: Saints win, 24-21.

Result: Vikings win, 29-24.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:
The Vikings exploded out of the gate in the first half, going up 17-0 by halftime. The Saints looked listless and completely unprepared, all the momentum from their win over the Panthers gone.

The Saints exploded out of the gate in the second half, pouncing on a costly interception and a blocked punt to rack up 24 points. The Vikings kept the game close with two field goals, but the Saints were up 24-23 in the game's final minute. The Saints had life, and the Vikings were barely holding on with time rapidly fading.

With mere seconds left, Marcus Williams tackled a ghost, and Stefon Diggs ran a catch into the endzone with no time left and no Saints to stop him. Unbelievable.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017-18 NFL playoff predictions (Part 1 - Wild Card)



Happy New Year! Time to kick off the new year with the first of many NFL playoff predictions! This post will focus on the Wild Card games; future posts will predict the outcomes of the Divisional and Championship games, and eventually the Super Bowl.

Let’s go.

Thunderbirds101’s picks


AFC

#6 Buffalo Bills vs. #3 Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars haven’t played a playoff game since January 2008. The Bills had an even worse drought: no playoff games since January 2000. Regardless, the droughts are over. The Bills miraculously entered the playoffs after two key events: they defeated the Miami Dolphins in the season finale, and the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens. The Jaguars, meanwhile, ended the regular season on a two-game losing streak, but both losses were on the road; perhaps more success will be found on home field.

Prediction: Jaguars win, 30-24.

Result: Jaguars win, 10-3.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:

Today, the Jaguars and the Bills discovered an effective treatment for insomnia.

*


#5 Tennessee Titans vs. #4 Kansas City Chiefs
Another drought broken this season! Until this month, the Titans haven’t played a playoff game since January 2009. The Titans have had an uneven season marked by winning six of seven games between mid-October and early December, but then ending the season by dropping three of their last four. The inverse is true for the Kansas City Chiefs; after exploding out of the gate to a 5-0 start, the Chiefs disintegrated, dropping six of seven games between mid-October and early December before rebounding with a four-game winning streak.

The Chiefs have the momentum and the playoff experience going into this Wild Card game. The Chiefs still haven't won a home playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium since 1994, but perhaps this will be the year.

Prediction: Chiefs win, 27-10.

Result: Titans win, 22-21.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:

IT

WAS

21

TO

3

Yes, the Chiefs were up 21-3. Yes, the Chiefs still lost the game. Have they been attending the Atlanta Falcons school of football recently?

~

NFC

#6 Atlanta Falcons vs. #3 Los Angeles Rams
What? Another drought broken? Yep, the Rams haven’t played a playoff game since January 2005. This season the Rams have asserted their dominance as the highest scoring team in the league, exceeding even the New England Patriots. While playoff inexperience may be a problem for the Rams, it is not a problem for the Atlanta Falcons, having played in the Super Bowl last season.

However, the Falcons have slumped since their heartbreaking loss against the Patriots; the horrors of being up 28-3 and losing the Super Bowl endure. The Falcons were last season’s top scoring team, posting 540 points in the regular season. This season, they’ve scored 353 points. The offensive powerhouse of last season has vanished; the Falcons have struggled this season, alternating between winning streaks and losing streaks. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have demonstrated their capabilities before, but unless they can conjure up the old magic in the coming game, the Falcons face a nearly insurmountable task.

Prediction: Rams win, 38-17.

Result: Falcons win, 26-13.

T-Bird’s comments after the game:

What happened to the highest-scoring offense in the league? They ran into a tough Falcons defense, that's what happened. The Rams were held to only twenty-two minutes of possession time, compared to thirty-five for the Falcons. The Falcons erased many doubts today; next week they have the chance to eliminate all doubts when they face off against the Philadelphia Eagles.

*

#5 Carolina Panthers vs. #4 New Orleans Saints
Finally, two teams with recent playoff experience! Both the Panthers and the Saints enter the playoffs after losing their respective season finales. The Saints opened the season with a sluggish 0-2 start, but exploded into a flaming cannonball and won eight in a row before ending the season with three wins and three losses in their last six games. The Saints have the third-best scoring offense in the NFC, behind only the Rams and Eagles. The Saints’ recent losses have all been close affairs, and the Saints at their best are formidable opponents.

The Panthers, meanwhile, have had a generally good season. Their worst losing streak was capped at two games in October. However, the Panthers have played the Saints twice this season and lost both games by double digits. If there’s any reason to worry about Panthers, look to what happened in their season finale against the Falcons. Cam Newton threw three interceptions at the worst possible times. The Panthers have no room for error in the Wild Card game. Allowing Drew Brees and the Saints to take advantage of fumbles and interceptions is a recipe for disaster.

Prediction: Saints win, 31-21.

Result: Saints win, 31-26.

T-Bird’s comments after game:

Yosemite Sam would now like to reenact this game:

A shootout to the end, the Saints and Panthers clash in a spirited duel but only the Saints survive the day.