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


#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:






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?



#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. 

No comments: