2020 NFL Playoff Predictions (AFC)

AFC 1-7 Seed

#1 Kansas City Chiefs
#2 Baltimore Ravens
#3 Buffalo Bills
#4 Tennessee Titans
#5 Pittsburgh Steelers
#6 Denver Broncos
#7 Indianapolis Colts

Just Miss Out

New England Patriots
Las Vegas Raiders
Cleveland Browns

mahomes#1 Kansas City Chiefs
Record: 13-3

Little surprise here – Pat Mahomes will be feeling himself this season having signed the biggest contract in sports, and the reigning Super Bowl champs will find themselves having another spectacular season. They go 13-3, and 6-0 within their division. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins find the end zone consistently, and rookie Edwards-Helaire brings some much-needed talent to their run game. Locking up DPOY favourite Chris Jones pays off in KC, but still, their defense loses them a close one in week 7 versus the Ravens, and they drop the ball twice more as the season comes to a close. Despite this, they clinch the 1st seed, and their first-round bye sets them up for another shot at a Championship. Expect the Chiefs to go all the way again this year

#2 Baltimore Ravens
Record: 13-3

Though they achieved a 14-2 record in 2019, I predict the Ravens to go 13-3 in 2020, and narrowly miss out on a 1st round bye. The Ravens have another impressive season under reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, but dropping games to their division rivals in weeks 7 and 14 sees Baltimore go 4-2 in the AFC North, and proves costly as they are forced to play in the Wildcard by the new playoff system. Though this may be, do not expect this to hinder them too much. The Ravens lost in an upset to the Titans last season, but this year they are no doubt the biggest threat to the Chiefs hopes of winning back to back championships.

#3 Buffalo Bills
Record: 9-7

The idea of the Buffalo Bills finishing above the Patriots in the West would have seemed laughable just a couple seasons ago, and having them at #3 still might to some people. However, the Bills are not to be overlooked. Josh Allen and his rocket arm launch the Bills atop the West as Stefon Diggs and John Brown cement themselves as an elite receiver duo. Singletary is set for a breakout year, and their big names on defense will consistently come up big. Bills Mafia go 9-7 and take their tailgate to the wildcard.

#4 Tennessee Titans
Record: 9-7

It’s easy to sit back and say that Tannehill won’t be able to continue his high level of play into the 2020 season. However, this season I am confident that the former Dolphin will prove he is deserving of his huge $118 million, 4-year contract, and that beating the Ravens and Patriots in the playoffs last year was no fluke. Similarly, Derrick Henry will be wanting to make sure there is no debate about him being an elite, top 3 running back since securing the bag this offseason. I have the Titans claiming the #4 seed in the AFC with a 9-7 record, but that doesn’t mean they are without their mistakes, and they drop a few L’s to each of their division rivals, going 3-3 in the South.

#5 Pittsburgh Steelers
Record: 10-6

In almost any other division, the Steelers would finish top and be within the top 4 seeded teams. That said, it is difficult to place them there while the Ravens seem so dominant. My prediction is that Pittsburgh goes 10-6, with a win over the Ravens in week 7. A healthy Big Ben returns to picking apart NFL defenses, and James Conner may finally reach the 1000-yard mark in his 4th season, as Pittsburgh utilises the run game in an effort to preserve Roethlisberger’s health. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ own defensive unit will continue to suppress even the best of the best NFL offenses, as TJ Watt builds on his stellar 2019 season. The Steelers are a wildcard team that could well make a deep playoff run.

#6 Denver Broncos
Record: 9-7

Drew Lock went 4-1 as a starter in 2019, and entering 2020 he will have Courtland Sutton and 1st rounder (and arguably the most NFL ready receiver taken in the draft)  Jerry Jeudy. Their offensive line remains among the better units in the league, and hugely help Robert Lindsay and Melvin Gordon get going in the run game. But of course, the Broncos as always are a defensive team, and though Lock may struggle in a few games, being it only his sophomore season, the likes of Von, Chubb, and Casey, along with their others stars on D, will see them through to the Wildcard; and as we all well know, defense can take a team a long way in the postseason.

#7 Indianapolis Colts
Record: 8-8

The Colts were set for a huge season in 2019 before Luck retired weeks prior to the start of the season. Despite being left fully unprepared, Indianapolis managed a 7-9 record with Jacoby Brissett at the helm. In 2020, with Phillip Rivers at quarterback, the Colts can improve greatly, though their record may not reflect it. While they manage only to break even, the Texans (who were 10-6 in 2019) greatly underperform after a tricky offseason, and the Colts don’t finish too far behind the Titans. Indianapolis’ 4-2 divisional record helps them jump the other AFC teams which also finish 8-8 to clinch the newly introduced #7 seed.
As for how they perform after the regular season, Rivers had a 4-4 record in the playoffs with the Chargers, having made the postseason only 5 times in 16 years playing in the AFC West. He will no doubt be looking to have a fresh and swift start in Indiana.

 

Just Miss Out

Jacksonville Jaguars v Oakland Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders

It will be a tough season for the Raiders, who remain among the most travelled, and have the task of navigating the toughest division in the AFC. The Raiders will manage a few close wins against top teams, notably the Saints in their first game at Allegiant stadium. However, what begins a strong season will soon start to deteriorate, as their youth and inexperience on both sides of the ball proves a limiting factor. Though their 8-8 & 3-3 record will not be enough to qualify for the wildcard, there will be more wins for the Raiders elsewhere this season. Jacobs will be motivated by his OROY snub and be determined to prove himself, while Henry Ruggs will fit seamlessly into the offense, and should be able to help Carr keep his starting job through 2021. The potential of Gruden and his squad will come to the light, even if it is not reflected in their wins to losses record.

New England Patriots

The Patriots are a difficult one to predict since it is unknown what their plans are regarding the QB situation. Whether they go ahead with Cam or Stidham, they will face some adversity, and while I have them at 8-8, they narrowly miss out to the Titans. Not only is their competition massive, as they have the hardest schedule of all 32 teams, but the transition to coaching a player like Newton will be a huge change for Belichick, and I can’t see him putting it all together in a season, especially considering the 0 preseason games will mean they have little opportunity to fine-tune the offense.
That said, with the mastermind of Belichick and a top 5 defense, I am not willing to completely write them off altogether. Who knows, maybe the Pats hit the ground running?

Cleveland Browns

The Browns will achieve their best record since 2007, also going 8-8, but their playoff hopes are killed off this season for the same reason they likely will be for the next few years – Baltimore and Pittsburgh. While Cleveland has an elite running back, receiver duo, new coaching staff and a QB who is set for a comeback year, and even some stars on D, it’s going to be difficult to see much success when in the very same division is a team with the MVP and a top 3 offense, and another with a top 3 defense. The Browns should manage a win against both these rival teams in 2020 but will achieve little more than that. That said, this is only the first year with the expanded playoff, and I have no doubts we will be seeing three AFC North teams represented in the playoffs before long.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.