We tend to see a lot of change every year in the NFL when it comes to playoff teams. Last season we saw 4 new teams make the playoffs including Washington, Seattle, Indianapolis, and Minnesota. Should we expect the same amount of turnover?
Looking at the AFC teams from last year there is any real threat to the top teams. Denver and New England will still run away with their divisions, Houston will be up there as well. Cincinnati is a young team that seems to be the trending pick to take the next step, and Baltimore despite losing 2 hall of famers shouldn’t fall off in terms of regular season.
That leaves only Indianapolis, which is fitting because they were the only new team to make into the playoffs in the AFC. They rode a young talented quarterback and a team inspired by their cancer ridden coach to an emotional 11-5. Perhaps it was overachieving after coming off a 2-14 season the year prior. Playing a first place schedule (I know it only changes two opponents), with a bottom half the league defense might just knock this team down a notch.
Now who would be a team to beat out the Colts for a playoff spot? The Kansas City Chiefs. Yes, new coach, new quarterback, a healthy team with a weak schedule. The Chiefs have a great home field advantage and their first 4 road games are against Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Tennessee, and Buffalo. There is no reason they can’t win 10 games.
Division Winners: New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver
Wild Cards: Cincinnati, Kansas City
Superbowl representative: Houston Texans
Last season you saw a lot of good young quarterbacks take their teams into the playoffs and it has led to teams like Seattle, Washington, and somewhat San Francisco to be front runners. The favorites for the NFC should still be Atlanta, San Francisco, and Green Bay.
As for Washington, Seattle, and Minnesota, they will find it hard to get to postseason play. Seattle might shock a few, but think about it. They were gifted 1 against Green Bay and managed to go 8-0 at home. Odds are they lose at least 1-2 at home and stay about an average road team. At most I see them winning 10 games, which would be the same record Chicago had last year.
Minnesota was strapped to the back of Adrian Peterson as he carried them over 2000 yards and to the playoffs. Peterson is a workhorse, but when it takes a near record breaking performance to barely make the playoffs, it doesn’t bode well for a repeat performance.
Washington won the division of mediocrity last season after winning 7 straight games at the end of the season. They’ll be decent as in 9-7ish which might be good enough to win the division, but I think Dallas or the Giants beat them out.
Division Winners: Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco
Wild Cards: Green Bay, New Orleans
Superbowl representative: San Francisco
In all that would be a turnover of 4 teams compared to last year’s playoff teams. That is a little on the low side compared over the last decade. The average new teams each year is 6.