According to…me… here are the chances that each team makes it to the Superbowl:
New England has the easiest path to the big game. They have a bye followed by an easy game against the Texans, Raiders or Dolphins and then just need to win at home against the Chiefs or Steelers to make it. I have the Steelers behind the Chiefs because they have an extra game to win and will have to go to Kansas City before a trip to New England.
The NFC is much more even. Dallas, Atlanta, Green Bay, the Giants and Seattle all have a realistic shot at it.
With that said, let’s get to my picks. They’re a combination of solid analysis, gut feelings and just straight-up disliking certain teams.
Wild Card Games:
Pittsburgh vs. Miami
The line on this one currently has the Steelers favoured by 10, which seems a little much considering the Dolphins beat the Steelers 30-15 earlier this year in a game where Jay Ajayi ran for 200 yards. That game was in Miami though and this one is in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are legit Superbowl contenders and are the better team so let’s not overthink this one.
My Pick: Pittsburgh
Houston vs. Oakland
I used to kind of like the Texans when they were an underdog to the Colts for years and JJ Watt is fun to watch. But now I’ve done a full 180 on this team and I despise them because of how undeserving they are of a playoff spot. They finished with -47 Net Points (7th worst in the league) and snuck in with a 9-7 record.
Two weeks ago it looked like Houston had no chance of making it deep into January. Then an unlikely win by the Jaguars over the Titans followed by a missed field goal by the Bengals put Houston in the playoffs. AND THEN Oakland lost two straight games while having their 1st and 2nd string quarterbacks get injured which means the Texans will actually be favoured in their playoff game.
Houston has a better defense than Oakland and the *shudder* better QB and are playing at home where they were 7-1 this season.
Oakland’s advantages are a better O-line (considered the 2nd best in the NFL behind the cowboys), better position players (Cooper, Crabtree, Murray) and a few ball-hocking players on D that create turnovers.
My Pick: It really doesn’t matter who wins this game because they just earn the right to get smashed by New England in the next round so I’ll just ignore my brain and pick with my heart and go Oakland. They’ll need some turnovers to win this game and they’ll need to run the ball very well to protect their 3rd string QB.
Seattle vs. Detroit
Seattle is vulnerable and I would have picked either of the Giants or Packers to beat them but let’s not get fancy with this pick. The Lions have lost 3 straight and are traveling to Seattle where the Seahawks went 7-1 this season (Detroit was 3-5 on the road).
My Pick: Seattle
Green Bay vs. New York Giants
This is the only game this weekend between two teams that could both win the Super Bowl. The Giants were tied for the 2nd best record in the NFC and beat the Cowboys twice. They have a fantastic defense and one of the best WR’s in the game. Unfortunately, they can’t run the ball at all and shouldn’t even try against Green Bay’s very good run defense.
Green Bay also has a very good pass rush with Nick Perry, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers so the pressure is on the Giants O-line. If they do manage to give Eli some time though, he should torch the weak GB secondary that won’t be able to hang with Beckham Jr and Sheppard.
On the other side of the ball, Green Bay similarly won’t be able to run against the Giants excellent run defense. The Giants also have a deep secondary that is capable of covering the GB deep set of WR’s. Sometimes it doesn’t matter though with Aaron Rodgers. He’s looked lights out the past 6 weeks leading the Packers to 6 straight wins and he will be a top 3 MVP Candidate with Matt Ryan and Tom Brady
My Pick: This is probably the hardest game to call because either team could beat the Cowboys but I’ll take the Packers at home in a close one.
New England vs. Oakland (or maybe the Texans or Dolphins, it doesn’t matter).
No analysis necessary.
My Pick: New England New England New England New England … 100x New England
Kansas City vs. Pittsburgh
Both of these teams can win the super bowl. Vegas odds have the Steelers as the 3rd most likely team to win the Super Bowl (tied with the Packers) and the Chiefs as the 5th most likely (tied with the Falcons).
These teams are very even but I think the bye week will help the Chiefs a ton as they will hopefully get Justin Houston and Spencer Ware back healthy again and they’ll be playing this one at home so:
My Pick: Chiefs
Atlanta vs. Seattle
TSN posted an article where Chris Schultz said Atlanta was his “dark horse” pick to win the NFC. Excuse me? What exactly about the Falcons makes them a dark horse? You can’t pick a 2 seed and call them a dark horse. Schultz used to have a segment on TSN called “Schultz vs. the world” where he would make picks against the spread and the world ALWAYS WON. In fact, if you made bets that were the opposite of Schulz’s picks, you would have won a fair amount of money.
But anyways, the Falcons have looked great this season and the Seahawks have not. Without Earl Thomas, I don’t think the Seahawks can cut it.
My Pick: Falcons
Dallas vs. Green Bay
If Green Bay does in fact beat the Giants, Dallas will be pretty happy about it because they lost to the Giants twice in the regular season.
Dallas has been solid all year on both sides of the ball and I think they will put up plenty of points against the Packers. I feel very confident in saying that Dallas will be winning this game most of the way through the fourth quarter. Whether they can finish it off or not is another story.
My Pick: Cowboys. If this game is close at the end I think Rodgers could pull off some heroics but I think Dallas matches up against GB very well and they’ll have a double digit lead near the end.
New England vs Kansas City
New England is the best team in the NFL. They’re good at everything and they have the best coach in the game. Any power rankings that have Dallas ahead of New England are completely idiotic.
But here’s the thing… how boring is it to pick the Patriots to win? I’m dying to see some new blood in the super bowl (ie. Not the Patriots or Seahawks).
The team with the best shot of beating them in either conference is the Kansas City Chiefs. They have fantastic balance on offense. Smith, Ware and Maclin are solid, move the chains players and then Kelce and Hill are game breakers. Tyreek Hill has scored a TD of 68 or more yards in each of the last 4 games for KC. That’s explosiveness that the Chiefs haven’t had the last couple years.
They have similar balance on defense. A healthy Justin Houston and Eric Berry have a good a chance as any to cause problems for Tom Brady.
My Stupid Pick: Kansas City
Dallas vs. Atlanta
This game could end 35-33 or something similar and would be hella entertaining to watch.
I watched a number of Cowboys games this year and one in particular stands out, which is the game against the Bucs in week 15. Dallas outplayed Tampa Bay significantly but only won by 6 points because of some coaching blunders. They called a few really weird, sometimes trick plays on offense that resulted in negative plays or penalties that turned promising drives into field goals or punts and they made a crucial game management error in the 4th quarter. With 3 minutes left in the game, Dallas elected to kick a chip-shot field goal on 4th and 1 from the Tampa 15 yard line, extending the Dallas lead from 3 to 6. A more aggressive coach would have tried to win the game by giving Ezekiel Elliott the ball on 4th and 1 and then hopefully punching the resulting drive in for a game-clinching TD.
In the end, the Bucs didn’t capitalize on their final two drives and Dallas won but I remember thinking to myself, if they did that against a QB like Rodgers, Ryan, Brady, Wilson, etc. they would have lost that game.
I’m going to predict that Jason Garrett makes a way-too-conservative coaching decision at some point and Atlanta wins on a last second Matt Bryant Filed Goal
My Pick: Falcons
In the AFC, there are 3 contending teams in the Steelers, Patriots and my pick, the Chiefs. All 3 teams have fantastic, proven coaches and a ton of experience on the field.
The NFC however is a shit storm where any team other than the Lions has a very realistic shot of making the Superbowl. The Seahawks, Giants and Packers have playoff experience but they’re less likely to make it than the Cowboys and my pick, the Falcons, who don’t.
There won’t be a huge talent disparity in this year’s Superbowl so I will give the edge to the team with experience and better coaching, which will be whoever comes from the AFC.
My Pick: Chiefs
Note: Since I picked it this way it will obviously end up being some sort of Giants, Patriots rematch…
Think you can do better? Tell me your picks in the comments and we’ll compare in February.