Way Too Early NFL Playoff Predictions


Tony Avelar/AP Photo

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: The Rams are one of the NFC’s best and the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. will only boost their offense.

The regular season is far from over — it’s Week 11 — but that shouldn’t stop us from having some fun with postseason predictions. Here is a rundown of my picks for the seven playoff spots in each conference, the AFC and NFC Championship matchups and the Super Bowl. Like last year, the playoff format features a first-round bye for the team with the best record (the one seed) in each conference; the three remaining division winners in each conference will round out the top four seeds and will face the three wild card winners in order of win-loss record.


First Seed: Buffalo Bills (+600 Super Bowl odds). What quarterback Josh Allen, receiver Stefon Diggs and the Buffalo offense can do is incredible, never mind the 9-6 loss to the Jags last week — that’s what people mean by “on any given Sunday.” And they have one of the most ferocious defenses in the league. They pressure the quarterback and force turnovers as well as anyone in the conference. 

Second Seed: Tennessee Titans (+1000). The loss of workhorse running back Derrick Henry definitely hurts, but the offense still looks potent with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver A.J. Brown.

Third Seed: Baltimore Ravens (+1400). Not many quarterbacks have been better than Lamar Jackson this year (with both his arm and his legs), and receiver Marquise Brown is showing up as well. Not to mention, their defense is still tough, despite looking pretty shaky against Miami.

Fourth Seed: Kansas City Chiefs (+1200). No one has been more disappointing this year than Kansas City. Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the previously unstoppable Chiefs offense have seemed to lose at least a step, and the defense looks outright terrible. But I’m still a believer, kind of. Superstars Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, coached by offensive genius Andy Reid, will likely start to figure it out. They are already well on their way, winning their last three games. 

Fifth Seed: Los Angeles Chargers (+2000). The emerging star quarterback Justin Herbert has had a stellar season and has a great running back in Austin Ekeler, along with two top-notch wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

Sixth Seed: New England Patriots (+3500). Argh, they’re back! Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has impressed in a controlled game plan, coupled with a strong defense.

Seventh Seed: Las Vegas Raiders (+6000). It’s not a sure thing, by any stretch of the imagination. Quarterback Derek Carr has been solid (third in passing yards) but needs to get the ball to tight end Darren Waller more.


First Seed: Los Angeles Rams (+800). No offense has been more exciting. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp have been crushing it. The defense, as always, is dominating with Aaron Donald up front, new member Von Miller off the edge and Jalen Ramsey in the secondary.

Second Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+550). Vegas is giving them the best Super Bowl odds, as quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs have one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Their defense is a little banged up, but if they can re-group before the playoffs, look for them to be serious contenders.

Third Seed: Green Bay Packers (+1200). The Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams connection, one of the best in the league, is still going strong.

Fourth Seed: Dallas Cowboys (+1200). Dallas has dominated in the weakest division in the league. Dak Prescott is a great quarterback with great weapons in wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, and you can’t forget to let running back Ezekiel Elliott eat.

Fifth Seed: Arizona Cardinals (+1000). This might be the best team in the league, but will have to settle for a wild card spot. Quarterback Kyler Murray is excellent, and he’s backed by a stellar defense.

Sixth Seed: New Orleans Saints (+5000). Even with quarterback injuries and inconsistency, they still win — running back Alvin Kamara is just that good.

Seventh Seed: Seattle Seahawks (+5000). They were playing pretty well until quarterback Russell Wilson got injured, and although he looked a little shaky his first week back, expect him to rebound the second half of the season.

In the AFC, it should be the Bills and the Ravens getting to the Championship game, with the Bills prevailing. The Bills are simply too well-rounded, even for Lamar Jackson to compete with. The Titans would have had a shot to get here, but not without a fully healthy King Henry (the timetable for his return is unclear).

In the NFC, it will be the Rams over the Bucs in the Championship game. The Rams are a legitimate force, and Stafford is on the hunt for his first ring. The Bucs are strong as well, Brady looking for his eighth ring. The Cards will try to be a spoiler for the Rams’ party but will come up short.

Finally, in the Super Bowl: it will be Bills versus Rams. Both have dominant offenses and defenses. It can go either way but the Rams’ star power is just too much for the rest of the league — they have one of the most dominant offenses we have seen in the past decade, and they will prove just how dominant come February.