2018 NFL Playoff Predictions: Can the Los Angeles Rams actually win the Super Bowl?

2018 NFL Playoff Predictions: Can the Los Angeles Rams actually win the Super Bowl?

One more week!

I’m so hungry for the return of football that I’ve spent the entire day examining the Vegas odds for each and every team in the NFL. I don’t even gamble, it just seemed like a good use of my time.

And when you’re in the blogging business, you can always justify this sort of activity by calling it research. As long as I put out some related content, it counts as a purpose-driven endeavor rather than ‘slacking off at work,’ right?

Relax, those TPS reports aren’t due until tomorrow. It’s not a problem.

AFC East                        +/-

New England Patriots   11 wins
Miami Dolphins             6.5 wins
Buffalo Bills                   6 wins
New York Jets               6 wins

For all the talk about the potential collapse of the Brady-Belichick dynasty, people seem to forget how terrible the rest of the division is. I think the Bills are a little undervalued, although I understand why. After moving on from Tyrod Taylor, there’s bound to be a decline from last year, but I can see Josh Allen stepping in and making an impact at some point. Plus, they’re in that same terrible division as the Patriots. Depending on what happens with LeSean McCoy’s potential suspension, I’d expect the Bills to contend for a wild card spot and the Pats to win the AFC East with ease.

AFC West                       +/-

Los Angeles Chargers    9.5 wins
Kansas City Chiefs         8.5 wins
Oakland Raiders            8 wins
Denver Broncos             7 wins

Are we really going to pretend like the Oakland Raiders aren’t the best team in this division? Derek Carr is a solid quarterback who still has that Amari Cooper connection in place. The addition of Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant – assuming he finally starts going to practice – gives Carr plenty of options in the passing game, while the combination of Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin should make for a competitive backfield. I’d expect most of these games to be shootouts with a somewhat suspect secondary, but look for the Raiders to take the division. The chiefs could be right up there as well, but I’m seeing a more pedestrian, 9-7 type season with Patrick Mahomes behind center. We could see both the Chiefs and the Raiders in the post-season, but we should have a clearer picture after the first game or two.

AFC North                    +/-

Pittsburgh Steelers      10.5 wins
Baltimore Ravens          8 wins
Cincinnati Bengals        6.5 wins
Cleveland Browns         5.5 wins

This is the Browns year baby!! Just kidding, they’ll suck again. Don’t buy into the Hard Knocks hype. Realistically, this is the Steelers' division to lose. You can usually count on the Ravens to wrap up a wild card spot, but barring any major injuries, I don’t see Pittsburgh having any trouble in the AFC North. The triple threat of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell stands among the best in football and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the most exciting young talents in the game.  The dude’s only 21 years old. Look for the Steelers to make a deep run in the playoffs this year, as well, and possibly even content for a super bowl. Again… barring any major injuries.

AFC South                     +/-

Jacksonville Jaguars    9 wins
Houston Texans            8.5 wins
Tennessee Titans          8 wins
Indianapolis Colts        6.5 wins

It’s all about that Jacksonville defense. The Jaguars won this division last year and nearly knocked off the Patriots in New England to earn their first ever Super Bowl appearance. All signs point to them winning the division again, but it should be a closer race than last year. In fact, all four teams have a realistic shot at taking home the title. We basically saw a two-horse race between the Jags and the Titans last year, but with Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson returning for the Colts and the Texans, respectively, there is no easy put-out in the AFC South. That usually has the side-effect of hurting the division’s wildcard chances. Expect a lot of records near the .500 mark and flip a (four-sided) coin to pick a winner.

NFC East                          +/-

Philadelphia Eagles         10 wins
Dallas Cowboys               8.5 wins
New York Giants              7 wins
Washington Redskins      7 wins

Let’s just skip this division, shall we? The Eagles will take it, the Giants will have more than 7 wins and the Cowboys will have less than 8.5. There you go… place your bets and let’s move on. If you want to hear me talk about the Cowboys, there will be plenty of that on The Disorderly Podcast, so subscribe!!

NFC West                    +/-

Los Angeles Rams       10 wins
San Francisco 49ers    8.5 wins
Seattle Seahawks         8 wins
Arizona Cardinals        5.5 wins

Jimmy Garoppolo has never lost a game in the NFL. People forget that. He went 2-0 with the Pats and 5-0 with the 49ers. To suggest that he won’t reach 9 wins this year is simply irresponsible.  There’s always the rest-your-starters factor at the end of a season, but the five 49ers wins came against the Bears, the Texans, the Titans, the Jaguars and the Rams; the latter three were playoff teams. You can never count a Russel Wilson-led Seahawks team out and the Rams are as good as they were last year, but I’ve got my eye on the 49ers to take the NFC West. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a wild card team from this division, as well, so expect a few playoff threats from the west. It’s one of the more intriguing divisions in football this year.

NFC North                     +/-

Green Bay Packers        10 wins
Minnesota Vikings         10 wins
Detroit Lions                 7.5 wins
Chicago Bears              6.5 wins

The Packers and the Vikings reach the playoffs. The Lions and the Bears don’t. This isn’t a particularly hard one to break down. Aaron Rodgers has some different personnel around him, but he’s still Aaron Rodgers and he’s healthy (for now). He may not be the most liked player in the league but he’s damn talented and he comes up clutch when it counts. The only concerns are age and lingering injuries, but that’s always a factor in professional football. Green Bay is still, for my money, the best team in the NFC North and should be able to take the division. That said, the Minnesota Vikings were a good team that got even better, adding Kirk Cousins at quarterback and signing Stefon Diggs to a contract extension. The two reportedly have good chemistry and could be one hell of a hookup on the deep ball. It feels like we’ll see both of these teams in the playoffs.

NFC South                         +/-

New Orleans Saints            9.5 wins
Atlanta Falcons                  9 wins
Carolina Panthers              9 wins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers     6.5 wins

I don’t see any chance of a wildcard team coming out of the NFC East and the NFC North feels like they’ve got one slot locked up. That leaves the NFC South and the NFC West competing for that second wild card team, and it’s really anybody’s game. The closest odds of any division, three of the four NFC South teams are sitting within a half a win of each other. In 2017, the Saints, Falcons and Panthers all made it to the post-season with the Falcons actually upsetting the Rams before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. This was of the back of a super bowl appearance – and a historic collapse – to the New England Patriots one year prior and the team hasn’t changed much since. Cam Newton and the Panthers are always a threat, same as Drew Brees and the Saints, but it’s anyone’s guess who will end up on top after week 17. I guess that’s why we play the games, right?

**All over/under win totals via Bovada (updated August 27th)

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