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NFL Playoff Predictions: Who Will Secure the Top Seeds and Playoff Spots in the AFC and NFC?

The National Football League season is entering the home stretch – and it will be a close battle for the playoff spots. SPOX dares to make a prediction: Who will get the home advantage in the postseason in the AFC and NFC, which teams will grab the wild cards – and who will be allowed to pick first in the 2024 NFL Draft?

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Five of the 18 weeks of the season are still outstanding. In this current phase of the regular season, not only form and the injury situation play a significant role, but especially the rest of the program. Some teams primarily have to deal with opponents from the lower table, while the Buffalo Bills, for example, still play against the Chiefs and Dolphins and host the Cowboys in their own stadium.

As a reminder: Seven teams per conference qualify for the playoffs, namely the best teams in the four divisions plus three wild card teams. Accordingly, only the respective top seeds of the AFC and NFC have a bye in the first playoff round.

NFL Prediction: Who will get the top seed in the AFC?

The remaining candidates’ program at a glance:

Miami and Baltimore are currently at the top of the AFC with an identical record. The big showdown is in week 17 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Considering the rest of the schedule, the Dolphins have a slight advantage because they still play the Titans and Jets in the coming weeks, both of which should be overwhelmed by the offense around Tua Tagovailoa. Conversely, the Ravens still have to play against four teams with positive records in the remaining five games, including the strong San Francisco 49ers. The easiest opponent – relatively speaking – are the Rams, who have gotten back into the swing of things thanks to QB Matthew Stafford.

In the rearview mirror of the Dolphins and Ravens is Kansas City, which despite the existing problems still has a realistic chance of being the top seed: After the upcoming home game against the Buffalo Bills there are four absolutely feasible opponents with the Patriots, Raiders, Bengals and Chargers. Even a recently sputtering offense around Patrick Mahomes, who is still playing strong, should be able to deal with these teams and thus warm up for the playoffs.

The fourth team in the running for the spot in the AFC is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have four easy opponents but will face the Baltimore Ravens at home in Week 15. If the Jags win this game, they would not only significantly diminish the Ravens’ chances, but they would also keep their own alive.

SPOX forecast: Despite everything, a well-known team will ultimately take the lead in the AFC for the fourth time in five years – namely the Kansas City Chiefs.

NFL Prediction: Who will get the top seed in the NFC?

The remaining candidates’ program at a glance:

With a brilliant offensive performance and a clear win against Philly, the 49ers have reopened the race for first place in the NFC. San Francisco is the clear favorite against four of the remaining five opponents – and the Ravens will also be there in Week 16. Normally, with Deebo Samuel back in the lineup, the Niners should be able to win all five games and thus keep the small MVP hopes of Christian McCaffrey and Brock Purdy alive. Kyle Shanahan’s team’s several-week slump was a while ago, but now it seems as if they are reaching top form in time.

Nevertheless, in order to get the top seed, Philly must first be displaced. The Eagles may have looked old at times against the Niners and even Jalen Hurts tried to force a few plays too much here and there, but they are still in pole position in both their own division and the conference. That could change a bit this weekend, because then the Eagles will head to Arlington for a showdown with their NFC East opponents Dallas.

The Detroit Lions, on the other hand, are struggling with the disadvantage that they are behind in the head-to-head against the Niners and are therefore behind San Francisco despite an identical record. It will be difficult for the big newcomer in the conference to move to the top.

SPOX forecast: The Niners are in top form, while the struggling Eagles have to compete against Dallas: After a narrow away defeat in Philadelphia, America’s Team now wants to hit back with an excellent Dak Prescott – and manages to do so. The top seed therefore goes to the San Francisco 49ers.

NFL Prediction: Who will get the Wild Cards in the AFC?

The remaining candidates’ program at a glance:

The latest results have made the race in the AFC even more exciting. Especially the Steelers’ losses to the Cardinals and Thursday night against the Patriots came as a surprise. That’s why Pittsburgh is no longer the favorite for a wild card spot, because Mike Tomlin’s team is particularly offensive offensively and, to make matters worse, has to rely on backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky for the time being.

The Colts, on the other hand, completed their mandatory tasks against New England and Carolina. There are more feasible games in the coming weeks, but also clashes with Pittsburgh and in week 18 with Houston. These games could decide the wild card chances. What you have to give credit to the franchise from Indy: Unlike many teams in the NFL, the Colts had adequately strengthened themselves in the backup QB position with Gardner Minshew and are therefore suffering less from the loss of the actual starter than other franchises in these weeks.

The Browns, on the other hand, are now pinning their hopes on Joe Flacco, who may have limited mobility but still has a howitzer arm at 38 years old. Meanwhile, the defense is a cause for concern as it was unable to do much against the Broncos and Rams. The loss of pass rusher Myles Garrett was of course painful in the most recent defeat, but otherwise the Browns may be running out of juice in the final spurt of the season. At least the signs are there.

The Texans were able to turn things around at the right moment in Week 13: a loss to Denver would have significantly reduced the playoff chances of CJ Stroud and Co. Houston already has a potentially important tiebreaker against one of the chasing teams. The remaining five games include the Titans twice and the Jets once. There are also games against Indianapolis and Cleveland. The big stage is set for Stroud: if he delivers, he will be in the playoffs.

The Broncos, Bills and Bengals (all 6-6) are lagging behind in the Wild Card race, but are far from written off. It is very difficult to predict what will happen to Denver’s offense after a setback against Houston. Actually, Buffalo should still be given chances, but the rest of the program is brutal and probably too much for a team that is currently shaky.

SPOX forecast: The wild cards ultimately go to the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns.

NFL prediction: Who will get the wild cards in the NFC?

The remaining candidates’ program at a glance:

Although we tipped Dallas to win in the NFC East duel against the Eagles above, the Cowboys will not win the division. Instead, they have to book a wild card, but it is as safe as Fort Knox.

Meanwhile, the fight for the two remaining playoff tickets is extremely close. There are currently four teams at 6-6 and are therefore on par – apart from the respective tiebreaker. The Green Bay Packers look like the strongest team in this quartet and have gained a lot of self-confidence in the last few weeks, not least in the person of Jordan Love. Green Bay also has the head-to-head advantage against Seattle and LA. inside. The decisive moment in the week before last was the meeting with the Vikings, against whom there was a clear home defeat in week 8.

These are much improved Packers compared to back then, while the Vikings have made some serious cuts since that game. Although it initially seemed as if Minnesota could somewhat cope with the loss of Kirk Cousins, the loss to Chicago before the bye week showed that the Vikings are a shaky entity and should not simply be considered clear favorites against any team with a weak record. Maybe that will change with the return of Justin Jefferson, provided he and new QB Josh Dobbs can develop chemistry quickly. But either way, the Vikings still have to face Detroit twice. For this reason alone, the balance sheet could suffer and a possible wild card spot could go up in smoke.

That would again be an opportunity for the Seattle Seahawks or the LA Rams. The latter’s good form speaks for itself with three wins in a row, including a narrow win against Seattle. Stafford in combination with his offense looked excellent, especially against the actually highly rated Browns defense. Seattle, on the other hand, plays a little like the weather in the northwest: There could still be victories for Pete Carroll’s team against the Titans and Cardinals, but it won’t be enough for the playoffs.

The NFC South could potentially play a role in the wild card race, especially if the leading Falcons (6-6) lose to Tampa Bay (5-7) on Sunday. At least it’s not out of the question that the second-best team in the division could intervene, but at the same time it would be a little wild if this weak division had two playoff teams.

SPOX forecast: Behind the Cowboys, the other wild cards go to the Packers and Rams.

NFL prediction: Who will get the top pick in the 2024 draft?

The remaining candidates’ program at a glance:

There can actually be no question of “getting”: Only one team has already been mathematically eliminated from the fight for the playoffs and – if nothing more dramatic happens – will finish the season with the worst record: the Carolina Panthers. With the victory in Pittsburgh, the Patriots also took themselves out of the draw.

The only problem is that the Panthers traded the top pick to the Chicago Bears in the spring in order to select Bryce Young first. Of course, this decision is also a factor as to why the mood in Charlotte has been so bad recently. Young certainly has potential, but on some plays he can’t yet handle the time pressure and access of the pass rush in the NFL. In addition, the average athletic quarterback plays rather “small”. What gives hope: In principle, all of this can be corrected.

SPOX forecast: The Bears can definitely look forward to the top pick in the 2024 draft.

2023-12-08 11:45:00
#top #playoff #seeds #wild #cards #AFC #NFC

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