• Historically six new teams have made the playoffs versus the prior season
  • Kansas City takes down New England to win the AFC
  • The Philadelphia Eagles are the best team in the NFL 

Historically, the NFL has seen a pattern of major turnover in its playoff teams. Last season, six teams failed to make the playoffs after making it the prior season. In 2017, eight teams missed the playoffs after making it the prior season. Last season I was successful in nailing four teams to miss the playoffs and three teams to be new playoff participants. In the last 27 years, the average number of teams to make the playoffs after making it the prior season is just over six per season, or essentially half of the playoff teams.

That means when making playoff predictions, you should keep in mind that 50% of the teams that made it last year will not be making it this season. With that being said, I went through and predicted the entire 2019 schedule based on my expected point spreads for each game and then adjusted slightly to get win-loss totals for each team. As you will notice, unlike in many other prediction articles you may run across, the aggregate number of wins and losses are equal. 

AFC Predictions
New England Patriots*124Jacksonville Jaguars*97
New York Jets*97Houston Texans88
Buffalo Bills79Indianapolis Colts88
Miami Dolphins313Tennessee Titans610
Cleveland Browns*106Kansas City Chiefs*115
Pittsburgh Steelers97Los Angeles Chargers*106
Baltimore Ravens88Denver Broncos79
Cincinnati Bengals610Oakland Raiders511


2018 AFC Playoff Teams

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Baltimore Ravens
  5. Los Angeles Chargers
  6. Indianapolis Colts

2019 Projected AFC Playoff Teams

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Cleveland Browns (New)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (New)
  5. Los Angeles Chargers
  6. New York Jets (New)

AFC Conference Champion: Kansas City Chiefs

No surprises at the top of the AFC with the Patriots and the Chiefs expected to lead the way. I have three new AFC playoff teams this season in the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets. Buy the hype on the Browns with a top 5-talented roster in the NFL. Initially, I had the Indianapolis Colts winning the AFC South and a real Super Bowl contender, but the retirement of Andrew Luck changed that. I do have the Colts winning 8 games, but not enough to win the South.

That distinction goes to the team with the best defense in the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags lost games last season to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Tennessee, and Buffalo by a combined 19 points. In those games, the combination of Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler completed 57% of their passes for only 2 TDs and a minuscule 5.5 yards per attempt. Getting competent quarterback play from Nick Foles will go a long way in making this team a contender in the AFC South.

Maybe the biggest playoff surprise comes from the New York Jets. I do think Sam Darnold makes the second-year leap that has come from many top-5 picks. Add the Darnold leap to the fact that the Jets never have to leave the eastern time zone and are forecasted to face the second-easiest schedule in the NFL, and you can see that it’s not a big stretch to get the Jets into the playoffs.

NFC Predictions
Philadelphia Eagles*124Carolina Panthers*106
Dallas Cowboys97Atlanta Falcons*97
New York Giants610New Orleans Saints88
Washington Redskins214Tampa Bay Buccaneers79
Minnesota Vikings*106Los Angeles Rams*106
Green Bay Packers*106San Francisco 49ers88
Chicago Bears88Seattle Seahawks79
Detroit Lions79Arizona Cardinals610


2018 NFC Playoff Teams

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Los Angeles Rams
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. Seattle Seahawks
  6. Philadelphia Eagles

2019 Projected NFC Playoff Teams

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Minnesota Vikings (New)
  3. Carolina Panthers (New)
  4. Los Angeles Rams
  5. Green Bay Packers (New)
  6. Atlanta Falcons (New)

NFC Conference Champion: Philadelphia Eagles

I have the Philadelphia Eagles as the NFC Champion and also the Super Bowl Champion. The Eagles are the deepest and most complete team in the NFL. As I wrote here, the Eagles posted a top-15 net success rate (12th-best) while facing a top-10 schedule (sixth-hardest) last season. This season the schedule is projected to be the third easiest in the NFL.

Philadelphia was unlucky in a number of categories last year that should improve, including ranking 23rd in fumble recovery rate, 24th in hidden special teams, 25th in turnover margin and most importantly had the second-most adjusted games lost due to injury. Barring a major injury from Carson Wentz, I expect the Eagles to be the best team in the NFL.

I have four new playoff teams from the NFC in the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons. The NFC is fairly loaded in the middle tier and a case can be made for essentially any team to make the playoffs outside of Washington and the Giants.

The Panthers and Falcons are the two teams that may have the highest variance in outcomes among my NFC playoff teams. When Cam Newton was healthy last year, the Panthers produced a top 10 offense. The issue last season came from the defense. With the additions of Gerald McCoy, Bruce Irvin, and Brian Burns, the front seven should help immediately.

I have the Saints missing the playoffs this year due to expected fall off from Drew Brees as well as just a very competitive NFC South. The Rams are the Rams and as much as you’d assume a Super Bowl hangover, they get multiple scheduling breaks throughout the season. the Rams lead the NFL with four games against teams playing following a Monday night game.

Super Bowl Champion: Philadelphia Eagles