Post your playoff predictions in the comments. Here are mine:
Wild Card Round
(5) Oakland over (4) Houston
(3) Seattle over (6) Detroit
(3) Pittsburgh over (6) Miami
(5) New York Giants over (4) Green Bay
(1) Dallas over (5) New York Giants
(2) Atlanta over (3) Seattle
(1) New England over (5) Oakland
(2) Kansas City over (3) Pittsburgh
(1) New England over (2) Kansas City
(1) Dallas over (2) Atlanta
(1) New England over (1) Dallas
This is a pretty chalky set of picks, but it feels like there are a few tiers in the NFL:
Tier 1: New England. Okay, the Patriots do seem vulnerable without Rob Gronkowski. Tom Brady averaged 9.33 Adjusted Yards per Attempt during the regular season (excluding sacks). On passes to Gronk, Brady averaged an unreal 15.8 AY/A, with 540 yards and 3 touchdowns on 38 targeted passes. On all other passes, he averaged 8.85 AY/A. That’s still great, but an offense with the two highest targeted players are Julian Edelman and James White has the ability to be contained in the playoffs. And while the Patriots don’t have a great defense, the team easily led the NFL in both points allowed and points differential.
Tier 2: Dallas; Atlanta. Neither team has a great defense, but these are the two best offenses in the NFL. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones form a historically great passing attack, while Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dez Bryant — behind a dominant offensive line — are unstoppable in a completely different way. I give the Cowboys the edge in the NFCCG because of their offensive line and home field.
Tier 3: Kansas City; Pittsburgh. Both teams are inconsistent, but have the ability to defeat any team. The Steelers have the best triplets in the NFL and a decent-enough defense, while the Chiefs have a very good defense, Tyreek Hill, and an efficient-enough offense. Again, I give Kansas City the edge based on a bye and home field.
Tier 4: New York Giants, Seattle, Green Bay. The Giants have a great defense, but a bad offense, ranking 25th in yards, 26th in points, and 22nd in DVOA. The Seahawks’ ceiling is significantly lower without Earl Thomas; it’s hard to pick them on the road against an explosive Falcons offense after seeing Seattle’s defense struggle without Thomas against Arizona and Green Bay in December. Green Bay is really hot, but that really doesn’t mean much entering the playoffs. Even if they get by the Giants, the Packers defense would seem overmatched in Dallas next week.
Tier 5: Miami, Detroit, Oakland, Houston. None of these teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
More importantly, please post your thoughts in the comments below.