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The Turf’s NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl Predictions

Our writers predict the NFL season!

NFL Field by Erin Costa is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Turf’s NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl Predictions


Estimated Reading Time: 12 Minutes

With the 2020 NFL season starting Thursday evening in Kansas City, the Turf’s NFL writers project the NFC and AFC playoff field and Super Bowl winner.

*Participating writers: Paul Radassao, Joe Danbusky, Matt Branigan, Terry Cudmore, Ryan MacPherson, Kevin Morin, Ryan Kelly, Andrew Mark Wilhelm, Christian Heilman, Tim Olsen

AFC East Champions

Buffalo Bills (6 votes: Danbusky, Olsen, Branigan, Wilhelm, MacPherson, Radassao)
New England Patriots  (4 votes: Cudmore, Morin, Kelly, Heilman)

Why Paul Radassao likes the Bills to end the Patriots Reign: “With the Patriots looking to take a significant step back from the loss of Tom Brady and multiple opt-outs due to COVID, the Buffalo Bills look to be on the rise. Coming off of a 10-6 season, a solid defense, and the addition of Stefon Diggs to the offense, it’s possible to see a double digit win season.

I’m not sure how Boston is going to handle the possibility of the Patriots missing the playoffs. It’s a shame there won’t be fans in the stands to see how they react to a single digit win season.”

Why Ryan Kelly thinks the Patriots won’t lose a step: “Perhaps this is a hometown fan’s blindness, but I still can’t envision a scenario yet where the Pats don’t win the division. I’d have to see it to believe it. Until then, Cam Newton and Bill Belichick should be enough to overtake the rebuilding Dolphins, the inconsistent Bills and the terrible Jets.”

AFC North Champions

Baltimore Ravens (10 votes: Danbusky, Branigan, Olsen, Wilhelm, MacPherson, Radassao, Cudmore, Morin, Kelly, Heilman)

Why Matt Branigan chose the Ravens: “The Ravens will win the division. Something interesting to watch will be who their WR1 will be by the end of the season. As of right now the best pass catcher on the team is clearly tight end Mark Andrews. The division will be much closer than you think as Pittsburgh and Cleveland will be competitive.”

AFC South Champions

Tennessee Titans (5 votes: Danbusky, Cudmore, Olsen, Morin, Wilhelm)
Houston Texans (4 votes: MacPherson, Radassao, Branigan, Heilman)
Indianapolis Colts (1 vote: Kelly)

Why Kevin Morin loves the Titans: “Tennessee is easily the best team in the AFC South in my eyes. Ryan Tannehill now should have the confidence of a strong playoff run. And speaking of running, you cant stop Derrick Henry. Add a guy like (Jadeveon) Clowney to that defense and I don’t sound like a crazy person for giving them the division.”

Why Paul Radassao likes the Texans over the Texans: “We all know Bill O’Brien is kind of an idiot for trading away his best players, but I still believe in this team. Deshaun Watson is as exciting to watch as any young Quarterback in the league, and he’s only getting better. I like the Titans, but don’t love them. I’m not sure this Ryan Tannehill we saw last year is the real deal.”

Why Ryan Kelly is the only one picking the Colts: “The Colts have the league’s most talented offensive line protecting Phillip Rivers, who I think still has plenty left in the tank. Add in the fact they have a representative defense and the league’s easiest schedule in 2020, and I see Indianapolis barely edging out Tennessee for the division title.”

AFC West Champions

Kansas City Chiefs (10 votes): Danbusky, Branigan, Wilhelm, MacPherson, Olsen, Radassao, Cudmore, Morin, Kelly, Heilman)

Why Matt Branigan?: “I mean… do I really have to explain?”

AFC Wild Card # 1

Pittsburgh Steelers (4 votes: Danbusky, MacPherson, Kelly, Heilman)
Cleveland Browns (2 votes: Morin, Olsen)
T-Indianapolis Colts (1 vote: Branigan)
T-Buffalo Bills (1 vote: Cudmore)
T- Tennessee Titans (1 vote: Radassao)
T-New England Patriots (1 vote: Wilhelm)

Why Joe Danbusky is confident in Pittsburgh: “The biggest improvement for this team will come in the form of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. Last year, without Big Ben, the Steelers were among the league’s worst offenses. The bolstered their arsenal by adding TE Eric Ebron and drafting Chase Claypool. Adding those guys to returning faces like James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster gives Roethlisberger a plethora of options. Defensively they are likely to remain among the top units in the league returning most of the guys who dominated last season.”

Why Kevin Morin LOVES the Browns: “IN BAKER WE TRUST!”

AFC Wild Card #2

T-1 Pittsburgh Steelers (3 votes: Cudmore, Branigan, Radassao)
T-1 Houston Texans (3 votes: Kelly, Wilhelm, Danbusky)
T-2- Los Angeles Chargers (1 vote: MacPherson)
T-2 –Buffalo Bills (1 vote: Morin)
T-2 Indianapolis Colts (1 vote: Olsen)
T-2 Tennessee Titans (1 vote: Heilman)

Why Ryan MacPherson likes the Chargers more than most: “The Chargers lost 11 games last year and 9 of them were by one possession including four by three points of less. When you look at a lot of those losses, Phillip Rivers wasn’t just bad – he was atrocious. Key turnovers in the final moments turned a playoff team into a basement dweller. Insert a turnover adverse Tyrod Taylor and this team becomes a 9 win team.”

AFC Wild Card #3

T-1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2 votes: Morin, Wilhelm)
T-1. New England Patriots (2 votes: Radassao, MacPherson)
T-1. Buffalo Bills (2 votes: Kelly, Heilman)
T-2. Los Angeles Chargers (1 vote: Danbusky)
T-2. Cleveland Browns (1 vote: Morin)
T-2. Las Vegas Raiders (1 vote: Cudmore)
T-2. Miami Dolphins (1 vote: Olsen)

Why Terry Cudmore likes the Raiders: “The Raiders have drafted very well the last two seasons and will start seeing some results. I still think Carr is not the long-term answer for Gruden but I see them finishing 10-6.”

Why Tim Olsen thinks the Dolphins will surprise: “A young coach the team loves, several new vets, potential impact rookies– what’s not to like? I can see 9 wins if the pieces gel and QB position is consistent. The Dolphins narrowly edge out their division rival Patriots. Could the Pats, with all their opt-outs due to COVID, secretly be #TankingForTrevor?”

NFC East Champions

Dallas Cowboys (7 votes: Danbusky, Branigan, MacPherson, Radassao, Cudmore, Kelly, Olsen)
Philadelphia Eagles (3 votes: Morin, Wilhelm, Heilman)

Why Joe Danbusky almost regrets this pick: “The NFC East is my back yard as a Giants fan. While it pains me to pick against my boys in blue, I just don’t see them getting past Dallas or Philly this year. Dallas has moved on from Jason Garrett and turned instead of Mike McCarthy, who brings a Super Bowl pedigree with him. Adding CeeDee Lamb to the offensive mix will only open up more opportunity for Amari Cooper and Zeke Elliott. Tight End Blake Jarwin may have a sneaky good year as well. Their offensive line has been among the best in the league which only helps Dak Prescott execute what is sure to be a more aggressive approach from McCarthy.”

What does Kevin Morin have to say about his Eagles pick?: “It’s a blind pick:

NFC North Champions

Minnesota Vikings (4 votes: Kelly, Cudmore, Branigan, Danbusky)
Green Bay Packers (3 votes: MacPherson, Radassao, Heilman)
Chicago Bears (2 votes: Olsen, Morin)
Detroit Lions (1 vote: Wilhelm)

Why Joe Danbusky likes the Vikings: “The pieces are all there, it’s just a question of how well they all come together. Can Kirk Cousins consistently be his best self? Will Dalvin Cook continue his upward trend of being injured less and less each year? Will Justin Jefferson be able to fill the giant shoes vacated by Stefon Diggs, and be a useful compliment to Adam Theilen (Who also has some recent injury history)? If health can be mantained, the offense should reach lofty heights. The defense however… They’re a very different unit. Under the Tutelage of 6th year head coach Mike Zimmer, I do believe the pieces will come together to form a division title and playoff run.”

Why Ryan MacPherson likes the Packers to repeat: “Aaron Rodgers should be foaming at the mouth right now. By drafting Jordan Love and not bringing in any pass-catching talent, GB’s front office is giving the unofficial “bon voyage” to Rodgers. They want him to fail and for Love to be the next guy. But with some good years and another big contract left in him, expect Rodgers to have a throwback year that will put him in MVP consideration, despite the lack of weapons.”

Why Tim Olsen expects the Bears to bounce back: In 2019, the Bears dealt with the following: horrid QB and O-Line play, only 91 yards from their top tight end, a season ending injury for their defensive leader (Akiem Hicks) and a huge dip in turnovers forced from 1st to 24th in the NFL. That team still finished the year a missed field goal away from 9-7. It looks like the team has made a critical offensive philosophy shift to running the ball and tight end utilization which will allow them to control time of the possession. This will keep the defense fresh leading to more pressures and sacks thus increasing turnovers. If the Bears can simply be league average offensively it will allow the defense to regain 2018 dominance.

Why Andrew Wilhelm is shocking everyone with his Lions pick: “Cuz what’s more 2020?”

NFC South Champions

New Orleans Saints (7 votes: Danbusky, Branigan, MacPherson, Radassao, Cudmore, Olsen, Morin)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 votes: Wilhelm, Kelly, Heilman)

What are you thoughts on this division, Andrew Wilheim? “I don’t trust any team in that division but I don’t trust the Bucs the least?”

NFC West Champions

Seattle Seahawks (6 votes: Branigan, Cudmore, MacPherson, Kelly, Olsen, Heilman)
San Francisco 49ers (4 votes: Morin, Danbusky, Wilheim, Radassao)

Why Ryan MacPherson expects the Seahawks to overtake the 49ers: “SF will be a strong team in the NFC but I think you can expect a little bit of a Super Bowl hangover. With an almost historic defense, they’ll likely come back down to earth a bit and unless Garoppolo takes a leap this year, their offense will continue to be middle of the pack and run-reliant. With five wins in 2019 by five points or less, I think SF moves from 13 wins to closer to 10 while Seattle will likely win 12 and remain in content for the #1 seed.”

Why Andrew Wilhelm expects a 49er repeat “They might be the most complete team in the entire league top to bottom. They have no glaring weaknesses on defense and while they might be a little thin on WR’s, they more than make up for it with George Kittle.”

NFC Wild Card #1

T-1. Minnesota Vikings (3 votes: Olsen, Morin, MacPherson)
T-1. Seattle Seahawks (3 votes:Danbusky, Wilheim)
T-2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2 votes: Branigan, Radassao)
T-2. New Orleans Saints (2 votes: Kelly, Heilman)
Los Angeles Rams (1 vote: Cudmore)

Why Christian Heilman sees the Saints as a Wild Card team: “The Saints will lose out on the Division crown to the Bucs by the narrowest of margins. This will possibly come down to best record vs. common opponents where the Vikings will be monkey wrench in that case. The Saints have struggled against Minnesota going 1-4 since 2017.”

Why Terry Cudmore sees the Rams bouncing back: “I think the Rams are finally ready to move past their 2018 Super Bowl loss and the offensive shouldn’t miss a beat without Todd Gurley, or 2019 Todd Gurley…”

NFC Wild Card #2

San Fransisco 49ers (4 votes: Branigan, Olsen, Kelly, Heilman)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 votes: Danbusky, Cudmore, Morin)
T-3. Atlanta Falcons (1 vote: MacPherson)
T-3. New Orleans Saints (1 vote: Wilheim)
T-3. Philadelphia Eagles (1 vote: Radassao)

Why Ryan MacPherson thinks the Falcons can surprise: “Atlanta is always a roller coaster ride year to year. Their offense consistently has the potential to be elite and if Gurley can be 80% of his former self, their offense will carry the bend-don’t-break defense. If their defense can be average, they’ll win no less than 9 games.”

NFC Wild Card #3

T-1. Seattle Seahawks (2 votes: Radassao, Kelly)
T-1. Philadelphia Eagles (2 votes: Danbusky, Cudmore)
T-1. San Francisco 49ers (2 votes: MacPherson)
T-2. Los Angeles Rams (1 vote: Branigan)
T-2. Green Bay Packers (1 vote: Kelly)
T-2. Chicago Bears (1 vote: Wilheim)
T-2: Dallas Cowboys (1 vote: Heilman)
T-2: Arizona Cardinals (1 vote: Olsen)

Why Terry Cudmore likes the Eagles: “The Eagles are probably not true title contenders (Although that didn’t stop them before), but I think they will be benefiting the most from that extra wild card slot.”

Why Tim Olsen sees the Cardinals Surprise: “Kyler Murray is a legit MVP canidate and the Texans will sorely regret ever trading DeAndre Hopkins.”

And now lets check out our writers’ Super Bowl predictions…

SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS

Kevin Morin: New Orleans Saints over Kansas City Chiefs
“New Orleans will win. Drew Brees will be playing his final season and that offense will find a way. Their defense, particularly their secondary, is as solid as it gets. So they should be able to outscore almost anyone, which will be a necessity going up against a team like Kansas City.”

Ryan Kelly: Kansas City Chiefs over Seattle Seahawks
“As much as I’d love to see Tom Brady take on his former cub, I think we will instead see two of the league’s top QB’s duke it out in a shoot out. Expect more fireworks than las year’s title game, but Pat Mahomes to come up on top once again. This dude is a legend in the making.”

Joe Danbusky: New Orleans Saints over Kansas City Chiefs
“Drew Brees will outgun Pat Mahomes and Kansas City and ride into the sunset with the Lombardi.”

Matt Branigan: Seattle Seahawks over Kansas City Chiefs
“If it weren’t for injuries late in the season, including complete depletion of their backfield, Seattle would have beaten Green Bay in the playoffs last season. And then they could have given San Francisco a run for their money. Often times we talk about how great Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson are, and trust me, they are great. But let’s not forget about how great Russell Wilson is. I know the Chiefs will be a force again, but I also know how hard it is to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Give me Seattle over Kansas City in Super Bowl 55.”

Ryan MacPherson: Seattle Seahawks over Kansas City Chiefs
“Russell Wilson has been carrying the Seahawks for years but with young weapons growing into their own, Seattle will be a top five offense that carves through some weak NFC defenses in route to the Super Bowl. Kansas City will have a tough game as they try to get past Baltimore but they’ll return to the big game for the 2nd year. Kansas City’s inconsistent pass rush will struggle to contain Wislon and his mobility, which will be able to create space courtesy of a strong run game. Expect a shoot-out but Wilson will raise his second Lombardi as Seattle seals the game in the final moments.”

Paul Radassao: Kansas City Chiefs over New Orleans Saints
“This is the year the Saints get to the Super Bowl. I feel like we have been saying that for 3 years now. The Chiefs are the clear favorite in the AFC, and I really don’t see any team in the AFC that can stop Patrick Mahomes. Here’s to back to back titles and the official start of a new dynasty!”

Terry Cudmore: Kansas City Chiefs over New Orleans Saints
“The game is going to be a shootout and Brees eventually can’t keep up with Mahomes as the game will not be played in a dome.”

Andrew Wilhelm: Baltimore Ravens over Detroit Lions
I’m picking the Lions to win the NFC because once again I am stupid enough to drink the Kool-Aid. How stupid you ask? I’m predicting they will lose to the Ravens in their first ever Super Bowl appearance in a heart breaking fashion: on a stupid safety, which would be the most Lions thing ever.”

Tim Olsen: Baltimore Ravens over Dallas Cowboys
“Lamar Jackson leaves his playoff flop history behind on the back of a dominant defense to defeat Kansas City. They match up against the Cowboys, led by an actual coach (Mike McCarthy) and NFL MVP QB Dak Prescott. Dallas takes the early lead but Baltimore wins on a late Field Goal.”

Christian Heilman: Pittsburgh Steelers over New Orleans Saints
“I’ll say the Super Bowl ends with a 4 point Steelers victory. T.J Watt ends the game on a strip sack of Drew Brees.”

Here at The Turf we are excited to usher in the 2020 NFL Season. Stay updated with us as we continue bringing you content throughout the regular season.

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