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Predicting all 12 NFL playoff teams and the Super Bowl 54 winner

Football season is upon us, and that means it’s time for Geoff Schwartz to predict how the NFL postseason shakes out.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Fearless predictions done? Check. NFL gambling futures bet? Check. Fantasy football draft? Check. NFL survivor league? Check. Pick the losers pool? Check.

Now it’s time to pick my 2019 division winners, conference champions, and Super Bowl winner.

I’ve never done a full season prediction article before because I’ve never felt it was needed. If you give bad predictions, people use it against you. If you nail the picks and brag about it, people don’t care.

But, hey, I decided to do one anyway this year.

It’s worth noting that since the 12-team playoff format started in 1990, at least four teams every season have made the playoffs after missing them the year before. Last year, there were seven teams that sat out the postseason in 2017 that qualified for the playoffs. So with that in mind, let’s do this.

How the AFC will play out:


  1. New England Patriots
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Houston Texans
  5. Los Angeles Chargers
  6. Cleveland Browns

New England has a cake schedule and will easily win the division. Out of division, the Patriots get the Chiefs, Steelers, Cowboys, and Browns at home. Even with the loss of Gronk, their offense should be fine. They will have to adapt and rely more on running backs in the pass game, but getting Josh Gordon back and healthy is huge for them. Defensively, they loaded up in the draft and will continue to be good on that side of the ball.

The Chiefs will win the AFC West — no surprise — but won’t get homefield advantage. They have a habit of losing a game or two later in the season they shouldn’t, and I think that bites them here, especially with the Patriots’ easy schedule.

The Chargers are supremely talented at important positions, even if injuries to safety Derwin James and tackle Russell Okung are issues. I trust Philip Rivers to get the job done and get the team back in the playoffs.

I’ve written before about how I believe the AFC North will finish. The Steelers have a Hall of Fame quarterback, outstanding OL, and above-average skill position players. Rookie linebacker Devin Bush makes that defense whole now and Mike Tomlin can coach. The distractions are out of the locker room, and the Steelers are motivated by doubt for the first time in years.

The Browns aren’t ready for the spotlight quite yet and lose the division by a game to the Steelers. But I think they finish 9-7 and make the playoffs.

One surprise team to watch is the New York Jets. I don’t think the Jets are there yet, but I love Sam Darnold and expect him to have a huge season. If your QB plays well, then your team will win games. They should be interesting anyway.

How the NFC will play out:


  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Atlanta Falcons
  4. Seattle Seahawks
  5. Philadelphia Eagles
  6. Carolina Panthers

Since Dak Prescott has been the quarterback of the Cowboys, they’ve finished with 13, 9 and 10 wins. They’ve made the playoffs two of those three seasons. This is their most talented team in four years. Ezekiel Elliott is back, they have a healthy offensive line, and the new offense will hopefully be more aggressive. They added Amari Cooper via trade last season and Randall Cobb in free agency. Their defense is legit. They’re good on all three levels.

While I believe the Eagles are an extremely well-coached team and Carson Wentz is more talented than Prescott, he can’t stay healthy. He needs to prove he can make it through the season. The Cowboys can match the Eagles’ offensive personnel outside of Wentz. The Eagles have a fierce pass rush, but the Cowboys are better at linebacker and in the secondary. Dallas is a better team right now and break the NFC East trend of not having a repeat winner since 2004.

I wrote about the NFC North earlier. The Vikings are quietly going to be good. They upgraded the offensive line, there’s a new mindset on offense, and that defense with Zimmer will always been strong.

The NFC South is a monster of a division and I think the Falcons are taking it home again. Offensively, there’s worry about their OL because they are young. I’m not as concerned because of their talent. Matt Ryan will throw for 5,000 yards and the offense will be humming. Defensively, they are healthy now. Finally. And their schedule is set up well. They only play outside three times this season, all after mid-November and all in warm-weather cities.

The Panthers are just my hunch here. The team was 6-2 before Cam Newton got hurt. He’s healthy again. They are loaded on offense, have a revamped OL and DL, and Ron Rivera is calling the defensive play calls now. They have a huge bounce-back season.

In the NFC West, I have a shocker: Yep, the Rams not in the playoffs. I expect just a tad of regression this year for the Rams. The offensive line was weakened a bit through free agency and old age. I think teams found a way to slow them down late last season. Would it surprise me if the Rams continued to be good? Nope, it wouldn’t. But I think they are looking at 9-7, with the Seahawks squeezing out the division.

How Super Bowl 54 will play out:

The Super Bowl winner is the New England Patriots defeating the Dallas Cowboys. Last season was the first in a long time that a No. 1 seed from either conference didn’t make the Super Bowl. This season, we go back to normal.

And I’m never betting against New England, so yes, I took the boring answer. The Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Again.