My 2017 NFL Preseason Predictions did not go so well. In fact, six of my predicted playoff teams, and both of my Super Bowl LII participants missed the playoffs. My Super Bowl Champion: the New York Giants, was the second worst team in football and will have the No. 2 selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. So it’s time for a do-over. While I wouldn’t suggest taking these to the bank, the following are my 2018 NFL Playoff Predictions.
(All rankings come from Football Outsiders DVOA Metrics, which can be found here: www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/)
Wild Card Round
No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars over No. 6 Buffalo Bills. After ending their 17-year playoff drought, the Bills face a stiff test in the Jaguars. Jacksonville’s defense ranks among the best in the NFL, and should be good enough to hold off Tyrod Taylor and the Bills long enough for Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette to make a few plays to pull out the win.
No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 5 Tennessee Titans. Marcus Mariota and the Titans’ offense have struggled to find their groove all season, and it won’t get any easier in the playoffs. As for the Chiefs, Kareem Hunt should have a field day against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, while Marcus Peters makes a key interception to seal the win.
No. 3 Los Angeles Rams over No. 6 Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons offense just hasn’t been the same without Kyle Shanahan, while the Rams have burst onto the scene behind a breakout year from Jared Goff. The Falcons struggle against the run, and that’ll especially be a problem against Todd Gurley III, preventing Atlanta from avenging it’s Super Bowl LI defeat.
No. 4 New Orleans Saints over No. 5 Carolina Panthers. The Saints crushed the Panthers in their first matchup, won by 10 against Carolina in their second and should again win handily in their third. The Panthers, especially if Jonathan Stewart isn’t healthy, just don’t have the offense to keep up with the Saints, and that’s before even mentioning the Saints’ terrific defense, led by rookie corner Marcus Lattimore.
No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 1 New England Patriots. The Patriots are not the juggernaut that they’ve been in years past. The Pats’ defense has struggled throughout the year, while New Englands’ offense, behind some inconsistent offensive line play, isn’t unstoppable. Kansas City beat New England in Week One, and they pull the upset again as their defense steps up, and Kareem Hunt turns in another a big game performance.
No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers over No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars. If Antonio Brown isn’t fully healthy, this game could go either way. But with a healthy Brown and Pittsburgh’s full arsenal of weapons, the Steelers will prove to be too much for the Jaguars defensively. Offensively, Bortles and co. will struggle to move the ball at Heinz Field, leading to a Steelers’ victory.
No. 4 New Orleans Saints over No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles. If Carson Wentz is healthy, the Eagles might be the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC. Instead, it’s Nick Foles under center for Philadelphia, and that’s less than ideal against the revitalized Saints’ defense. It’s doubtful Foles can keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints, and much less so against one of the top five defenses in the NFL.
No. 2 Minnesota Vikings over No. 3 Los Angeles Rams. The Vikings could be the first team in NFL history to play the Super Bowl in their home arena. Heck if the Eagles fall, the Vikings won’t have to leave Minneapolis the entire postseason. Case Keenum gets revenge on the team that released him, while Minnesota’s defense holds strong against Goff, Gurley and the Rams to pull out a thrilling victory.
No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers. After being knocked out of the postseason by Pittsburgh in 2017, the Chiefs get their revenge in 2018. Kareem Hunt only got nine carries in the regular season matchup, but this time, Matt Nagy feeds the presumptive Offensive Rookie of the Year, while Marcus Peters does his best to lockdown Antonio Brown, sending Kansas City to Super Bowl LII.
No. 2 Minnesota Vikings over No. 4 New Orleans Saints. With a chance to play for the title in their own stadium, the Vikings’ defense steps up to slow down New Orleans’ two-headed running back monster on offense, limiting Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to under 100 yards apiece. And on offense, Case Keenum and Kyle Rudolph connect on a couple of touchdowns to send Minnesota to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LII
Minnesota Vikings over Kansas City Chiefs. There’s nothing like having home-field advantage in the Super Bowl. Case Keenum continues to prove doubters wrong, while Harrison Smith and co. again shut down one of the top rushers in the NFL in Kareem Hunt to earn the Vikings first Super Bowl victory in team history.
- Super Bowl MVP: Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings
- Offensive MVP: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
- Defensive MVP: Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
- Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
- Comeback Player of the Year: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots