The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday as wild card weekend commences and we begin our road to the Super Bowl LIII.
While we have a moment, let’s rank all 12 playoff teams including how many teams can actually win the Super Bowl.
NO CHANCE, THAT’S WHAT YOU GOT…
12. Houston Texans – Here’s what I love about the Texans: Deandre Hopkins. He caught 115 passes this season without dropping a pass. Do you know how hard that is? The only sports comparison I can draw to it off the top of my head is a closer in baseball going a full season (including playoffs) without blowing a save (looking at you, 2008 Brad Lidge). I don’t love Houston losing Demaryius Thomas in Week 16 for the season, which should make life a little harder on Deshaun Watson finding open receivers. Also, they must protect Watson. The Texans allowed a league-leading 62 sacks this season. Not protecting the quarterback and playoff football DON’T MIX.
11. Indianapolis Colts – There are a lot of roller coaster teams in the playoffs and the Colts are among them. They started 1-5 and rallied to finish 10-6. Their one loss following the 1-5 run was a 6-0 loss at Jacksonville. Weird, right? I think Indy is a year away and maybe another defender or two. I like them to win their opener in Houston but beyond that might be a chore. Whatever happens, getting to Andrew Luck will not be easy. The Colts allowed a league-low 16 sacks this season.
WELL, IF THEY GET HOT WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM
10. Seattle Seahawks – Seattle beat Dallas earlier this season but were 0-4 on the road against playoff teams. I don’t trust Seattle skill players BUT none of that matters…watch the video below. This is the best NFL-related video all season:
9. Philadelphia Eagles – Well, we all know what could happen if the Eagles get hot. Nick Foles is on such a roll that one Philadelphia reporter referred to him as the greatest quarterback in team history AND one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. I don’t know about all that but I do know this:
UNDERDOG MASKS > SKI MASKS
The Eagles can certainly win in Chicago but past that puts them back in New Orleans, where they lost 48-7 this season. In the immortal words of Dean Ambrose…NOPE. Philly will likely have to give up their Super Bowl strap in short order after getting a week reprieve from the Bears.
8. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys, who swept the Eagles this season en route to winning the NFC East, can’t possibly be behind the Birds. Here’s the thing with Dallas. If you told me they would win by 20 or lose by 20 or get shutout, I’d believe it. They leaned heavily on Ezekiel Elliott, who had one of the busiest seasons in Cowboys history in terms of touches.
This comes down to two guys though. Assuming Dallas does usual Dallas things which include sound defense and Elliott eating up yards, the play of Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott will be pivotal. When Cooper is a factor, big things are possible. If he is not, Cowboys fans need to have their heart medication at the ready.
7. Los Angeles Rams – I don’t think I’ve soured more on a “big team” this season than the Rams. Jared Goff was not good down the stretch post that silly 54-51 game against the Chiefs that set back defensive football some five decades. This team is about Gurley, period…oh, and playing some meaningful defense too. Aaron Donald’s 20.5 sacks are nice and all but if his other 10 teammates aren’t doing much, it will not matter. They will get housed by the Saints again if they go back to New Orleans.
THE SUPER BOWL WINNING LINE OF DEMARCATION: There are only six teams that could possibly win the Super Bowl if everything broke right. Here they are…
6. Los Angeles Chargers – I really, really, really, really, really want to like the Chargers. However, I really, really, really, really, really hate their first-round matchup against Baltimore. Both the Chargers and Ravens are sound defensive teams but the game will come down to LA’s ability to take advantage of Baltimore’s defense. They could not do that in Week 16. I think the Chargers are just as good as anyone in the AFC…or NFC. Yet, they have the lousiest road to the Super Bowl to navigate. Potentially, they’ll have to beat Baltimore, New England, and Kansas City. God’s speed to Philip Rivers. It could happen but it is really, really, really, really, unlikely.
5. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens will be tough to figure out because “Defensive coordinators don’t have enough tape yet on Lamar Jackson™” to slow down his ball-carrying ability. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s defense is not of Ed Reed/Ray Lewis/T-Sizzle level but it is more than serviceable. If you’re Baltimore, an ideal path would be beat the Chargers, head to Kansas City to beat up on a porous defense, and then take your crack at the Patriots in Gillette. I’d rather see New England in the conference title game than the divisional round where often nerf teams.
4. Chicago Bears – When the Bears lose, it will probably be because of Mitchell Trubisky turning over the ball or not being able to hit key passes, which sounds like a totally plausible scenario. Consider that the Bears will likely have to beat the Eagles, Rams, and Saints – three elite passing attacks when clicking. Odds are they will get got by one of those teams if Trubisky doesn’t bring it. Elsewhere, did you know the Bears defense has Khalil Mack on it? Not sure if you knew. Anyhow, I’m definitely up for more Club Dub:
IN TOM & BILL I TRUST: Brady & Belichick will figure out something. I don’t know what that something is but they’ll figure it out.
3. New England Patriots – Surprisingly, the Patriots’ only losses this season came at the hands of non-playoff teams. Meanwhile, they are 4-0 against 2018 playoff teams. No quarterback at age 41 has ever won a playoff game and Tom Brady will aim to change that. Typically during the Belichick era, they slaughter their divisional round opponent, play a bumpy AFC title game, and then get a mystery grab bag Super Bowl where all kinds of bizarre stuff happens. This sounds cliché especially when talking about the Patriots but New England must run effectively and play good defense, which they have been able to do lately. If they do that, then their vaunted passing attack might have a chance to return to prominence. Don’t count them out yet.
2. Kansas City Chiefs – This playoff run has been put on a tee for the Chiefs to reach the Super Bowl. The rest of the conference is vulnerable. It’s good but not lights out. However, the Chiefs lost almost every important game they played in this season including to the Patriots and Chargers – both of whom they may see in the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes has shown zero fear during the postseason. I can’t imagine he will get the yips. Obviously, their nearly non-existent defense is a major concern but the loss of Kareem Hunt has made them far less dynamic, which is almost as problematic. That is a big concern for them especially when trying to close out an AFC title game or Super Bowl against some stiff competition. Plus, we can’t discount Andy Reid going full Andy Reid and having another postseason meltdown.
1.. New Orleans Saints – One year after allowing arguably the silliest touchdown in NFL postseason history, the Saints are back again and appear to be poised to return to the Super Bowl. The Saints have shown the ability to play multiple styles of football this season. You want a low-scoring game? They can play in that. Want to get into a shootout? No problem, they are more than equipped to do so. Brees getting his second Super Bowl would further cement his (insert L word) and erase one of the most bitter moments in Saints history.
It’s their Super Bowl to lose. They don’t have a huge margin for error as a favorite. After all, Brees is throwing to Michael Thomas, Ben Watson, Alvin Kamara, and members of The Partridge Family. Thus, this is far from a layup for them…but they are the team to beat.
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