Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) of @FoxSports discusses his 2014 NFL Playoff predictions including wildcard games!

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WILD CARD WEEKEND

NFC

 Carolina (6) at Seattle (3): While the challenges inherent in being the reigning NFL kingpins took their toll during the regular season, one thing didn’t change: The distinct home-field advantage that the Seahawks have enjoyed at CenturyLink Field. Carolina’s stout defense keeps it close, but Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson helps Seattle pull away in the fourth quarter.

Final: Seattle 24, Carolina 14

 San Francisco (5) at Green Bay (4): Public shareholders haven’t owned the Packers since 2012. That distinction falls to the 49ers. San Francisco has beaten Green Bay four straight times during the previous two seasons, including twice in the playoffs. That streak, though, comes to an end here. The Packers finally figure out Colin Kaepernick in what proves to be Jim Harbaugh’s last game as 49ers head coach.

Final: Green Bay 27, San Francisco 20

AFC

 Baltimore (6) at Denver (3): This marks a rematch of Baltimore’s improbable double-overtime playoff victory two years earlier that helped propel the Ravens into Super Bowl XLVII. There won’t be another upset this season. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning gets his revenge in a four-touchdown performance.

Final: Denver 34, Baltimore 17

 San Diego (5) at Indianapolis (4): Nobody plays Indianapolis better than theChargers. San Diego has won six of the past seven matchups – including two playoff contests — dating to 2005. The Colts’ nightmare continues this season with the Chargers controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Final: San Diego 20, Indianapolis 17

Source: Fox Sports

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@johnbreech of CBS Sports has his 2014 NFL Playoff predictions out! With wildcard forecasts! (Titans?!)

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AFC:
Denver Broncos
New England Patriots
Cinncinati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts

Pittsburgh Steelers (Wild Card No. 1): If the Steelers the don’t hit the nine-win mark this season, that would give the team three straight non-winning years for the first time since the 1969-71 seasons. I don’t think that happens and it’s mainly because of Pittsburgh’s schedule. In the season’s first seven weeks, the Steelers only play one team that finished with a winning record last year and that team — Carolina — doesn’t look as strong as it did in 2013.

Tennessee Titans (Wild Card No. 2): Jake Locker got this team off to a 3-1 start last season before going down with an injury in Week 4, and that only loss came in overtime. The Titans weren’t beating bad teams either, they knocked off the Steelers and Jets, two teams that would finish 8-8, and a Chargers team that would eventually make the playoffs. If Locker stays healthy — and that’s an IF that Locker should probably get tattooed on his left hand as a constant reminder that he needs to stay healthy — then this team can sneak in the playoffs.

Just missed at No. 7: San Diego Chargers (In 2015, the NFL will likely be expanding to a playoff format that includes seven teams from each conference — an expansion that will come one year too late for the 2014 Chargers)

NFC:

New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers
Seattle Seahawks
Dallas Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers (Wild Card No. 1): As long as the 49ers defense doesn’t collapse in the first few weeks without NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, San Francisco should be OK. It’s not going to be easy though, Smith will miss games against the Cowboys, Eagles, Broncos and Saints while Bowman will likely miss all of those games except for the Saints. Then there’s the Ray McDonald domestic violence arrest, that’s definitely not a distraction that’s going to help things.

Arizona Cardinals (Wild Card No. 2): If you watched the Texans last season, you may have noticed Matt Schaub seemed to throw a pick-six every week. Well, Carson Palmer is an expert at throwing pick-six’s too. As of October 2013, he had thrown the ninth-most in NFL history. What I’m trying to say here is that if Carson Palmer doesn’t spend all season giving away free points to the other team, then the Cardinals should be dangerous.

Just missed at No. 7: Atlanta Falcons.

AFC Wild Card Game
Bengals over Titans
Steelers over Colts

NFC Wild Card Game
49ers over Cowboys
Seahawks over Cardinals

Source: CBSSports

CBS Sports @PatKirwanCBS has the Bengals, Chargers, 49ers and Bucs as #wildcard teams in his NFL playoff predictions!

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Pat Kirwan’s playoff predictions – CBS Sports

AFC:

Team – Predicted record
New England Patriots 12-4
Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
Indianapolis Colts 10-6
Denver Broncos 11-5

Wildcard Teams:
Bengals 9-7
San Diego Chargers 9-7

NFC:

Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
Green Bay Packers 11-5
New Orleans Saints 10-6
Seattle Seahawks 10-6

Wildcard Teams:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7
San Francisco 49ers 10-6

NFL.coms @judybattista @ChrisWesseling @Gil_Brandt @CoachBillick @greggrosenthal make their NFC Wildcard predictions!

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NFC GAMES

NFC WILD CARD 1

Judy Battista: Chicago Bears. They certainly would have been a playoff team last season if the defense had been even marginally better.
Brian Billick: Green Bay Packers. Even with a steady rushing attack, the Packers aren’t anything without Aaron Rodgers — keeping him healthy has to be priority No. 1. Green Bay gave up 45 sacks last season; only the Cardinals have given up more since 2009. If Rodgers plays all 16 games, the Packers make the playoffs.

Gil Brandt: San Francisco 49ers. I think San Francisco has a chance to have as good a defense as any in the NFL, even with the uncertain availability of NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. That should carry the Niners, though Frank Gore and the running game will slow down.

Gregg Rosenthal: Arizona Cardinals. In Bruce Arians we trust. (And Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Ellington, Michael Floyd and John Brown.)

Chris Wesseling: 49ers. Jim Harbaugh has a lot working against him this year, but the other wild-card contenders just aren’t strong enough to overtake his team.

NFC Wildcard Game 2

Judy Battista: San Francisco 49ers. The expected extended absences of Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman are the difference between winning the division and getting a wild-card spot.

Brian Billick: 49ers. The 49ers are the second-best team in the NFC, but unfortunately for them, they are also the second-best team in their division. San Francisco will make the playoffs for the fourth time in four seasons under Jim Harbaugh.

Gil Brandt: Carolina Panthers. I think everybody’s kind of writing off the Panthers, given how much receiving talent they lost, but the pass catchers they ended up with — including first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin — are as good as last year’s guys. Plus, their defense is still excellent.

Gregg Rosenthal: Bears. The defense has to get better, but the passing game should be among the league’s best.

Chris Wesseling: Lions. Defenses can’t find a way to double-team Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron.

Source: NFL.com

New Article: Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions all favored to be NFL Wildcard teams by Vegas

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Las Vegas sets lines(odds) for NFL teams to win or lose each week during the regular season. Some teams will be favorites to win games while others will be projected to lose.

One hidden gem Vegas also offers are odds for which NFL teams are likely to make the playoffs. Since Vegas isn’t in the business of losing money, the odds they set for these types of sporting events can be a good starting point if we are trying to determine what teams have the best chance of making the playoffs.

Below are Sportsbook lines for teams that are likely to make the playoffs:

San Diego Chargers +180
Detroit Lions +175
Chicago Bears +135
Pittsburgh Steelers +115
Cincinnati Bengals -105
Philadelphia Eagles -165
Indianapolis Colts -200
New Orleans Saints -225
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers -250
Seattle Seahawks – 360
Denver Broncos -500
New England Patriots -550

If you are looking at this list you’ll notice two things; The teams at the top are least favorite to make the playoffs while the teams at the bottom are heavy favorites to make the playoffs. Secondly, I have listed 13 teams when only 12 will actually get in. I have included 13 teams as they are the closest in terms of odds, while the rest of the NFL teams are heavy underdogs to make it into the playoffs.

So what can we learn from this list?

First, The Broncos and Patriots are very likely to make the playoffs. Secondly, The Seahawks, 49ers, Packers, Saints, Colts and Eagles and Bengals are are favorites or heavy favorites to make it in.

The interesting thing here is the Steelers, Bears, Lions and Chargers are all in the mix to make it into the playoffs as Wildcard teams. This is a pretty important distinction to make from the rest of the teams on the list, as it gives us a look into which NFL teams are expected to have the best record from their conference, but not necessarily win their division.

If the Divisions were expected to pan out the way these odds indicate, it would look something like this

AFC East winner – Patriots
AFC North Winner – Bengals
AFC West Winner – Broncos
AFC South Winner – Colts
AFC Wildcard Teams – Steelers, Chargers

Of note here is the Steelers are considered likely to be in the wildcard matchup, but are so close to the Bengals(in terms of odds) that either could end up winning the division and the other would get in as a wildcard team.

NFC East Winner – Eagles
NFC North Winner – Packers
NFC West Winner – Seahawks
NFC South Winner – Saints
AFC Wildcard Teams – (Two of Three) Bears, Lions, 49ers

The AFC is a lot of fun to look at. The Seahawks are favorites to win the NFC West which would mean the 49ers would have to get into the playoffs as a wildcard team, which would then knock out either the Bears or the Lions. The odds also indicate (+135, +175 respectively) that the Bears and Lions are very close to being in a dead-heat going in, even though only one is expected to make it in.

To wrap this up, these of course are predictions based on numbers set by people in Vegas, and are ever-changing based on many different factors that seem to pop up in the NFL. If we can view this list as a ‘Power-ranking-odds-system’ of what teams are projected to do, it can be a good starting point of what to watch for throughout the NFL regular season and how each week the playoff race may shape up.