by Ryan Meehan
Now that I’ve done my regular season predictions, it’s time to check out what will happen during the most important part of the season – the playoffs. This year I believe we won’t see very many fresh franchises in the NFL postseason. Everybody who will go this year will have been there recently, the only thing that I believe will be different will be the seeding. Here’s how I have everyone ranked at the end of the regular season.
Denver Broncos (11-4-1) (1)
New England Patriots (11-5) (2)
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (3)
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) (4)
San Diego Chargers (10-6) (5)
Kansas City Chiefs (9-6-1) (6)
Although the AFC looks like total chalk when you consider I’m picking every team that made it last year to return to the playoffs again, it makes sense if you think about it. So this year is the wake up call to all of these middle of the road teams in the American Football Conference. I am officially putting Miami, Tennessee, and Buffalo as well as any other team floating in the waters of AFC mediocrity on blast and declaring the following: This is your final warning. This is your last chance with these rosters to do something useful and step it up otherwise there’s going to be a lot of Chiefs and Chargers road playoff games over the next few years and you could easily become the next Jacksonville Jaguars.
I have the Chiefs as the six seed in the AFC so that would mean if I have the Ravens as the three this wild card game would take place in Baltimore. I’m going on record as saying if this happens this will be the most disappointing playoff game of the season. It shames me I even have to pick a winner because I hate both of these franchises with a passion, but I’ll say that either Flacco or whoever is taking his place after he gets injured pulls this one out against yet another very overrated Kansas City Chiefs team.
Ravens 17, Chiefs 13
While that game has the potential to blow major ass, the 4/5 game could very well be one of the best games in the 2104-2015 postseason. The way I’ve picked them, this would mean the Colts would host the Chargers in a free-for-all game in Indy. In this instance, I think that Philip Rivers would realize this is probably one of the last years anyone who looks like a chipmunk can win a Super Bowl, and I’m taking the underdog on the road to win this one.
Chargers 26, Colts 23
San Francisco 49ers (13-3) (1)
New Orleans Saints (11-5) (2)
Green Bay Packers (10-6) (3)
Dallas Cowboys (10-6) (4)
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (5)
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) (6)
This is where I get to have me some fun. With the Panthers out of the way and the Seahawks not able to capitalize on home field advantage unless the Eagles can beat the Niners, the NFC playoff picture looks like it’s shaping up to be a real humdinger. With the current playoff seedings being determined by who has won their division as opposed to being based solely off records, it’s impossible for the Niners and the Seahawks to both get a bye. So in our example the Saints would get the two. That would mean if the NFL ratifies this new playoff structure for 2015-2016, they would be the highest rated team which does not get a bye in the seven team structure that Goddell is pushing for. But that’s not going to happen here, so let’s go back to the Seahawks for a second.
By this point, the Seattle Seahawks will be so tired of hearing all of the trash talk about how they can’t win road playoff games. Since they are the five in my projection, that would mean they would head to Arlington to play the Cowboys as the four. And this is where things get really nasty, and I feel like I’m getting almost personal here…I think the Seattle Seahawks are going to plow Dallas in this game. I think it’s going to be brutality for Jerry Jones, and the beginning of a lot of changes in Big D for many years to come. The first of those changes will be firing Jason Garrett, and the second move would be to publicly let Romo know he’s been a huge waste of money and that if he doesn’t clean his shit up after the end of next year Jones will start shopping the remaining four years of that contract around at blowout prices. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when that kite string pops.
Seahawks 37, Cowboys 7
Now that I have that fantasy out of my system and onto a computer screen, that means we’re going to see the Eagles heading to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers. The Eagles will have snuck in at 9-7, and the Packers will either be fresh off a home win against the Lions or a loss against that same team where they started nobody. You do the math – Nick Foles is going to want to pay attention here and learn a couple of things about how to be a real man. The fans in Green Bay are going to be so tanked that they won’t be able to hit the urinal without getting through a DUI checkpoint first, but at least they don’t have to go back to Philadelphia when the final whistle blows.
Packers 32, Eagles 18
AFC Divisional Round
I’ve stated before that this is my favorite round of the playoffs, and with good reason. The first AFC divisional game will be killer because it will be a matchup between division foes as the one seed Broncos will play the lowest remaining seed in the Chargers. As much as I want to convince myself that the Chargers will have enough gas to make this happen a mile above sea level, I just don’t think they’ll be healthy enough to do it. The Broncos will have had a week to rest and their last regular season game is against Oakland, so they should be in pretty good shape by this point.
Broncos 24, Chargers 13
The other AFC Divisional game is going to be more of a “teacher/student” matchup, but more of one where the student has his headphones on and is jamming out to whatever shitty pop song is number one the second week of January. This one has blowout written all over it, and the look on Joe Flacco’s face should be priceless when he realizes that outsmarting Bill Belichick in 2015 is a lot more difficult than doing the same to Mike Tomlin and Marvin Lewis. This game will be in Foxboro and the Ravens will never wish that they had Ray Lewis more than they did in this moment.
Patriots 36, Ravens 13
NFC Divisional Round
This matchup could be one of the most exciting games all year. Slated to be played in the Superdome, the Packers will head into town to face the Saints in a matchup between the only two half decent teams in those divisions. Even though I think right now Rodgers might be the better QB (and that can be debated) I have to give the edge to New Orleans here, not just because of the home field advantage but because let’s face it their roster is a lot better. Remember when you have two guys with similar styles at quarterback, the X factor in most instances is your running game. Now I love the Lacey kid the Packers have, I really do. I just think that between Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas the Saints are going to do a little bit better job controlling the clock and that will help them tremendously.
Saints 30, Packers 27
While the Saints/Packers game will be great, the matchup between San Francisco and Seattle is the one that the world wants to see. And while they won’t be playing in the conference championship, it’s fair to say that whoever wins this game is probably going to the Super Bowl. Plus, what football fan doesn’t want to see these two teams play each other three times a year? But this year the results will be different. I see some kind of an internal meltdown ready to occur in Seattle, and I think that with this game played outside of Washington and with the Seahawks not getting the calls that they seem to get in their own stadium the Niners will take this one. The only reason that their defense doesn’t get the credit it truly deserves is because last year everybody wouldn’t shut up about how powerful Seattle’s defense was. That discussion will turn in Frisco’s favor, and after this one we’re going to hear several legitimate sports talk radio discussions about whether or not Russell Wilson is a tad overrated.
49ers 31, Seahawks 17
The Broncos and the Patriots met last year in the conference championship, and in what turned out to be a pretty forgettable game, all of the personnel problems the Pats had all year finally came to fruition and they just didn’t have enough to go into Denver and take it. But this year I believe that they will. I think Brady knows his window is closing, and I feel another Manning postseason tank job coming on. Brady will be crazy focused in these last two games, showing once and for all that when it counts, he’s the man.
Patriots 30, Broncos 17
These two teams have given us some really good playoff games to watch in recent years, and I love the matchups that this game will provide. Colin Kaepernick will be able to exploit certain parts of an improved yet still young Saints defensive squad, and Drew Brees is going to want to prove that he can debunk one of the best secondaries in the league. But I can honestly say that I think the Niners just have too much to work with here, and they know this is their game to win.
49ers 32, Saints 29 (OT)
Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers – University of Phoenix Stadium February 1st in Glendale, Arizona
In what will probably end up becoming one of the hardest Super Bowls to gamble on in recent history, this will be the classic battle of old school versus new school. Colin Kaepernick will have had an amazing season by this point, defeating the Tom Brady to his own Peyton Manning in the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional playoff game. They’ll be ready to win the first of two consecutive Super Bowls, the second of which they hope will happen in their own building. But they’re a young team, so they’ll be thinking too far ahead of themselves which will be a prime target for Tom Brady to get his fourth ring – which will ironically tie him with Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers. I do believe that after this game we will really start to see the decline of the New England Patriots in serious form, but they will get one last shot and I think they’ll take advantage of it. Don’t get me wrong – it won’t be easy but they will indeed make it happen.
Final Score: Patriots 31, 49ers 27
Note to Patriot fans: Enjoy this, because after this year you’d better get used to being mentioned in the same sentence as the Tennessee Titans
Summary and what this means for the future of the NFL
If this is Brady’s last real productive year in the league, it signals what is likely the end of the “gunslinger” era of Tom Terrific and Peyton Manning. The NFL quarterback of the future will still rely on the long bombs that make us such huge fans of the game, but at the same time the league is leaning towards a guy who isn’t afraid to run in the middle of the field for a seven yard gain.
This also means that this is probably the last year I’m going to be able to gauge the league on their performance from the previous year. In the 2015-2016 NFL season, we could very well see teams like the Patriots and Broncos missing the playoffs, leaving playoff voids that could be filled by these teams that have been trying so hard to get to the next level. (I’m looking at you with shifty eyes, Cincinnati…)
It’s going to be a blast watching it all go down, and I’m sure this year will give us plenty of storylines both on and off the field. We’ll be here all year documenting it every step of the way, so stop on back for weekly wrap-ups on Tuesdays and weekly previews on Thursdays. We appreciate all of the support, and thanks for reading.
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