Splash’s April Playoff Predictions
Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) reacts after a sack in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The month of April has brought some stability to NFL teams. The draft is over. Many undrafted free agents have been signed. Teams are solidifying for the summer.
What does this mean?
It is time to predict the 14 playoff teams.
The number in parentheses indicates their position in the March edition of these predictions.
Check here for the February edition of these predictions.
No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs (Last: No. 1)
The Chiefs will be the top seed in the AFC.
No. 2: Baltimore Ravens (Last: No. 2)
Baltimore had a terrific draft. While they are unlikely to replicate the 14-win 2019 season, they might be more talented. The Ravens are heavily favored to three-peat as AFC North champions and they should slot in nicely behind the Chiefs. If the Ravens can win a pair of playoff games, they might be getting the highly-anticipated playoff showdown with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
No. 3: Buffalo Bills (Last: No. 3)
Buffalo may have overpaid for Stefon Diggs, but they had a solid draft. Zack Moss and Gabriel Davis could make plays for the offense and Buffalo had one of the best seventh-round picks in Dane Jackson. The Bills have a loaded secondary, and the division has opened up with Tom Brady’s departure to Tampa Bay. The time is now, Buffalo.
No. 4: Houston Texans (Last: No. 4)
The Texans had an underwhelming draft, but they seem to have just enough talent to win another AFC South title. They have the best quarterback in the division. Indianapolis likely has the superior roster, but Philip Rivers could throw them out of contention. Houston is a bold pick, but they have won the division despite missing key pieces before.
No. 5: Denver Broncos (Last: No. 5)
Denver followed up a productive free agency period with a quality draft. They added a pair of good receivers and a pair of good offensive linemen to the existing cast of Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, Phillip Linsday, Melvin Gordon, and Noah Fant. They have virtually no shot at the division due to the Chiefs existing, but they have jumped from sleeper to common playoff selection.
No. 6: Tennessee Titans (Last: No. 6)
The Titans will go 9-7 again. Congratulations.
No. 7: Pittsburgh Steelers (Last: missed playoffs)
For the third straight season, the Steelers will finish seventh in the conference. In 2018 and 2019, they were left out of the playoffs, but, with the added playoff spots, the Steelers will lock down another seed led by a terrific defense and just enough offense. Ben Roethlisberger will not be great, but he will be better than Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.
No. 1: New Orleans Saints (Last: No. 1)
Despite only having four picks, the Saints had a strong draft. Cesar Ruiz and Zack Baun are good pieces for the future, and they could be productive in 2020. The Saints will have one of the better offenses in the NFL yet again and the defense should be around the top 10 in yards and points allowed.
No. 2: Dallas Cowboys (Last: No. 2)
In terms of pure value, Dallas set the gold standard for drafting. Their first four picks could be perennial Pro Bowlers down the line. In the present, the Cowboys will have a lethal offense led by Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. Defensively, they have a talented defensive line and a fantastic linebacker corps. The secondary is the weak link, but if the pass rush can get home, a subpar secondary could be ignored.
No. 3 Seed: Seattle Seahawks (Last: No. 1)
The Seahawks had a bizarre draft, but as long as Russell Wilson is in Seattle, they are a threat to make the playoffs. Offensively, the Seahawks sport a multi-pronged attack with Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, and D.K. Metcalf. Defensively, the Seahawks hemorrhage yardage, but Quinton Dunbar should help on the outside. The Seahawks get knocked for being in a brutal division but they should see January football.
No. 4: Green Bay Packers (Last: No. 6)
The Packers had a horror show of a draft for a team ready to compete in 2020. However, they have just enough offensively to stave off the Vikings, Bears, and Lions in the NFC North. Aaron Jones and Davante Adams are Pro Bowl-caliber, and Aaron Rodgers could light it up in 2020. The Packers have a hungry defense that forces serendipitous sacks and turnovers. They will regress from 13 wins, but they should slip into the playoffs.
No. 5: San Francisco 49ers (Last: No. 5)
The 49ers have retooled the offense and defense through the draft, nabbing Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk to replace DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders. Defensively, the 49ers will be among the best in the NFL again, but the onus falls on the offense. Can Jimmy Garoppolo be successful again? The Shanahan running game will be there, but the weight falls onto Garoppolo in the big moments.
No. 6: Philadelphia Eagles (Last: missed playoffs)
The Eagles had an interesting draft as they added not one but four DeSean Jackson replicas. Jackson is still on the roster, but the wide receiver depth is a welcome addition. Miles Sanders should have a productive sophomore season, and the tight end group is great. The offensive line is aging, but the Eagles invested a pair of picks on the unit. If the defense avoids the injury bug, the Eagles could make it back to the Super Bowl.
No. 7: New York Giants (Last: missed playoffs)
The Giants acquired their offensive tackles of the future in Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart. Saquon Barkley should have a more efficient campaign, and Daniel Jones should be hit less often. Joe Judge is an unknown commodity, but he has some pieces to work with on both sides of the ball. Xavier McKinney was one of the best picks of the draft, and he should be a versatile playmaker for a decade.