With the Hall of Fame game on Thursday marking the informal kickoff of the NFL season, it’s time to kick off a different season: prediction season. Sports websites all over the country are giving their input on how they believe the season will play out, and today we’re simply hopping on the bandwagon.

So while we soak in the general unimportance of preseason football, let’s speculate. Make predictions of your own—in all likelihood, they’re going to be wrong, and that’s ok—the unpredictability is what makes the NFL great. Here are a few predictions of my own.

NFC Playoff Picture

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

3. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

4. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

5. New York Giants (11-5)

6. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

 

AFC Playoff Picture

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

2. New England Patriots (12-4)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5)

4. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

6. Houston Texans (9-7)

 

Wildcard Round – NFC

#4 Packers over #5 Giants

A rematch of the wildcard matchup from two years ago, I’m predicting that the Giants have one of the greatest turnarounds ever. With a new coach in town, a star rookie running back, and the return of Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants successfully complete an eight-game turnaround in 2018. Unfortunately for them, their road ends in this game. This one will be closer than the 2016 playoff game, but Lambeau Field will be rocking in the Packer’s return to the playoffs.

 

#6 Vikings over #3 Eagles

How could I possibly pick the Vikings after last year’s NFC Championship, especially since the Eagles had their backup quarterback on the field? Call it a gut feeling. Maybe there’s some Kirk-Cousins-on-a-new-team-playoff-magic, but I believe the Vikings defense will come out with a vengeance after getting embarrassed in primetime last January. Dalvin Cook will be in the lineup this year and that is the difference in this one.

 

Wildcard Round – AFC

#4 Chargers over #5 Chiefs

There’s nothing better than a divisional matchup in the playoffs—it’s do-or-die against the hated rival that you’ve already seen twice that year. The Chargers and Chiefs finished fourth and fifth in total offense last season, and that shouldn’t change this year. For Kansas City, Mahomes is young but he’s surrounded by enough talent to be successful. For Los Angeles, Rivers and company are looking for their first playoff win since 2013—I think they get it done here.

 

#3 Jaguars over #6 Texans

Another inter-divisional Wildcard matchup, I’ve got a split regular season series between these two teams, but in the winner-take-all game, the Jaguars’ defense limits the successful, young Deshaun Watson after he throws for 33 regular season touchdowns. Experience is the key in this one, and the Jaguars can play any type of game—in the 2017 playoffs, they beat the Bills 10-3, and turned around and beat the Steelers 45-42.

 

Divisional Round – NFC

#4 Packers over #2 Rams

I hesitated on this one, and rightfully so—many have pegged the Rams as either Super Bowl participants or Lombardi winners with their Pro Bowl roster. But the 2018 league MVP Aaron Rodgers, who has more road playoff wins than home, outduels Jared Goff in a high-scoring thriller. The only way this is possible? The Packers must have a much better defense than they’ve had in recent years, and I believe the tide is turning—Pettine is in the process of revitalizing the secondary, and HaHa Clinton-Dix makes the game-winning interception late in this one.

 

#1 Saints over #6 Vikings

Ratings would be through the roof if this prediction plays out. The craziest game of the 2017 playoffs will see a different result in 2018—the Saints know they let one slip away and the Superdome will be electric. New Orleans had an all-time great draft last season, drafting the Defensive and Offensive Rookies of the year in Marshon Lattimore and Alvin Kamara, respectively, but the ship is still captained by Drew Brees, who picks up his eighth playoff victory after leading a game-winning drive with a minute-thirty left.

 

Divisional Round – AFC

#2 Patriots over #3 Jaguars

Predicting rematches of BOTH Championship games? We’re slowly rolling off the rails of sanity here, but then again, why not? These two teams are perfectly capable of reaching the divisional round again (the Patriots have reached this round by default since 2009), and the result will be the same. Tom Brady reaches his unthinkable eighth-straight Conference Championship. But the Patriots won’t win this game solely because of Brady—last season, New England rushed for a whopping 46 yards in this one. Belicheck always learns and, with the help of rookie Sony Michel, the Patriots will rush for over 150 yards.

 

#4 Chargers over #1 Steelers

Another disappointing home playoff loss for Pittsburgh, and the last we’ll see of Le’Veon Bell in a Steelers uniform. I predict that he’ll be outplayed by Melvin Gordon, who firmly establishes himself as a top-five back this season. And as annoying as Rivers can be on the field, he puts up stats and doesn’t miss games (he’s the active Ironman leader at 192 games), and I think he leads the Chargers to their first Championship game since 2007.

 

NFC Championship

#1 Saints over #4 Packers

It’s Sconnie Sports Talk, so it always stings to bump the Packers out of the playoffs, but they just don’t have enough talent to overcome the newly-balanced Saints. If this game were in Lambeau, I’d give the Packers the nod—Green Bay does a good job of handling the Kamara/Ingram combo, but Drew Brees is a different animal indoors and he gives this young Packers secondary all they can handle here. This game goes to, dare I say, overtime, where the all-too-familiar story is told once again: Rodgers does not touch the ball, and the Saints are playing in February.

 

AFC Championship

#4 Chargers over #2 Patriots

Sometimes, you have to throw a little March Madness into the NFL. History and reason show that the Patriots would be favored in this one, but I’m running with the Chargers as my Cinderella this year, and a Super Bowl appearance will officially put the city of Los Angeles back on the football map. This game will actually be lower-scoring than most anticipate with Brady and Rivers running the show. I’m going 24-21 on a late Caleb Sturgis field goal to send the Chargers to Atlanta.

 

Super Bowl LIII

The New Orleans Saints over the Los Angeles Chargers

Welcome to the Old Man’s Club! This would mark the first-ever Super Bowl in which both starting quarterbacks are over the age of 35, and it may be the last shot for both Rivers and Brees. Look for a similar scoreline to last year’s Super Bowl, as each team boasts a high-powered offense that will be amplified in Atlanta. Brees has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in NFL history, and this is his curtain call. The 39-year old from Texas retires after winning his second Super Bowl and rides off into the sunset.

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