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Jan. 7, 2017

NFL Playoff Predictions

by Ryan Handel, Opinions Editor, Benjamin Yokoyama, Online Sports Editor, Ellie Williams, Features Editor and Nate Bodner, Sports Editor
Congratulations to Ellie for winning the SCO NFL predictions this season! This season was full of unexpected surprises like the Cardinals and the Panthers, as well as more pleasant surprises like the Dolphins and Raiders, who have made it back to the playoffs. Now we're moving on to our playoff predictions. Although the Redskins and Ravens will not be featured this year, there are plenty of matchups that should leave us with a highly competitive Super Bowl 51. See how each member of the prediction team think the postseason will play out.

Final Standings:
Ellie: 157-97
Nate: 152-102
Ryan: 149-105
Ben: 149-105

NFC wild card:
Ben:
Packers over Giants
Seahawks over Lions
Nate:
Packers over Giants
Seahawks over Lions
Ryan:
Giants over Packers
Lions over Seahawks
Ellie:
Packers over Giants
Seahawks over Lions

Ben says: After a lot of scrutiny early in the season, the Packers have shaken it all off and are rolling through the NFL right now. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson are an unstoppable combination, and the defense is just good enough to get them through at home against a Giants team that has been very inconsistent. The Seahawks have also been an up and down team, but with a 7-1 home record, their experienced defense will have the motivation.
Nate says: The Giants solid defense canít make up for the less than powerful offense led by turnover prone Eli Manning. Meanwhile, the Packers are on a roll, and Aaron Rodgers is absolutely unbeatable right now. No defense in the league will stop him. In the other NFC wild card matchup this weekend, The Seahawks have the edge over the Lions due to a superior defense, and more playoff experience. Stafford will have to be impeccable if he wants to be able to overcome the Legion of Boom, and the weaknesses in his own teams defense.
Ryan says: The Giants defense, led by Jason Pierre-Paul, has been tough to score on this season and could finally be the unit to limit Aaron Rodgers. In the meantime, Manning and Beckham will shred the Packers weak secondary. In the other NFC wild card, Ezekiel Ansah and Haloti Ngata will easily penetrate the Seahawks offensive line and punish Russell Wilson.
Ellie says: The Packers have a lot of momentum after winning six games in a row, they have the game at home, and the strong Green bay offense led by Aaron Rodgers can take on the Giants defense. The Lions have been inconsistent all year and are playing away, where Stafford struggles the most. The Seahawks have won the last nine home playoff games.

AFC wild card:
Ben:
Texans over Raiders
Steelers over Dolphins
Nate:
Raiders over Texans
Steelers over Dolphins
Ryan:
Texans over Raiders
Steelers over Dolphins
Ellie:
Texans over Raiders
Steelers over Dolphins

Ben says: It's not that the Raiders are without Derek Carr, it's that they are without any experience at quarterback. Connor Cook just can't be trusted in only half a game of NFL experience. In the other game, I like the Steelers at home in the cold with their high-powered offense against a Miami team without their starting quarterback.
Nate says: The Raiders supporting cast on offense should definitely be able to make up for the inexperience of their starting QB, and the Texans just donít have the same firepower on offense, especially when Khalil Mack will be hounding Osweiler all night. In the other AFC matchup, the Steelers will prevail, despite their loss to Miami earlier in the season, because right now, their offense is just too good to stop.
Ryan says: Brock Osweiler might be turnover-prone and inaccurate, but I trust him more than the unproven rookie Connor Cook. The Steelers will rebound from an early season defeat to the Dolphins as they overpower Miami in a shootout.
Ellie says: The Raiders are starting their third string QB which is risky and the Texans have the home field advantage. Houston has a solid ground game which should serve them well in a high pressure game. The Steelers top five passing offense will be enough to get them to the next round.

NFC divisional:
Ben:
Cowboys over Packers
Falcons over Seahawks
Nate:
Packers over Cowboys
Falcons over Seahawks
Ryan:
Cowboys over Lions
Giants over Falcons
Ellie:
Cowboys over Packers
Falcons over Seahawks

Ben says: Even though the Packers are doing well, the Cowboys have been nearly unstoppable. Anyone could run behind that offensive line and look as good as Ezekiel Elliott. With time in the pocket and a knack for avoiding turnovers, Dak Prescott will win his inaugural playoff game. The Seahawks are not the same team on the road, with a sub-.500 record. The Georgia Dome won't need artificial noise this game because that offense will eek out a win in Round 2.
Nate says: I give the Packers the edge in this rematch because of Aaron Rodgers. He has exploded in the past seven weeks of the season, and the Packers have kept winning. He will expose some holes in the Cowboys defense. In the other game, these two teams both have a lot of talent, but the Falcons will prevail because of a superior offense.
Ryan says: The Cowboys dominated the Lions in December, and the result shouldnít be too much different in January. In a battle of star NFC quarterbacks, Eli Manningís experience will put him over the top.
Ellie says: Cowboys have been the class of the NFC all year and Aaron Rodgers wonít be enough to shut down their power on both sides of the ball. The injury plagued Seahawks wonít be able to hold their own against a strong Arizona team playing at home.

AFC divisional:
Ben:
Patriots over Texans
Steelers over Chiefs
Nate:
Patriots over Raiders
Steelers over Chiefs
Ryan:
Patriots over Texans
Chiefs over Steelers
Ellie:
Patriots over Texans
Chiefs over Steelers

Ben says: Demoted to backup, Brock Osweiler will be good enough to beat a quarterback-less Raiders, but he'll be no match for the Patriots. The Patriots keep it simple, and it will be more than enough the stop the Texans. The second game will be far more competitive. The Steelers, though on the road, can still manage to put up a lot of points on KC. Big Ben Roethlisberger stays cool in important games, and their defense is ready for whatever the Chiefs offense can muster.
Nate says: While the Raiders may be able to get by Houston, the Patriots will provide a much bigger challenge. Tom Brady should be able to pick the Oakland defense apart, and Connor Cook wonít be able to do anything against New England. In the other matchup, one of the leagueís best offenses will be pitted against one of the league's best defenses. I give the Steelers and LeíVeon Bell the edge in this one.
Ryan says: The Patriots should slaughter the Texans, who donít really even belong in the playoffs. The other AFC divisional round game should be much more entertaining, as the Chiefs slow but effective offense shows that the tortoise can beat the hare.
Ellie says: The consistent Patriots have the skills to go all the way. No one can stop Tom Brady and his fire offense. The Chiefs have an impressive 12-4 record and if any team can take down the Steelers offense, itís them.

Conference championships:
Ben:
Falcons over Cowboys
Steelers over Patriots
Nate:
Falcons over Packers
Patriots over Steelers
Ryan:
Patriots over Chiefs
Giants over Cowboys
Ellie:
Patriots over Chiefs
Cowboys over Falcons

Ben says: The Falcons will still be able to win on the road. With their high-powered offense it won't matter how poorly their defense plays. The Cowboys will scramble to keep up but it won't be enough to keep up with Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. In the AFC, the Patriots will be taken down by another team with loads of playoff experience. Big Ben against Tom Brady, Mike Tomlin versus Bill Belichick. In the end the speed across the field for Pittsburgh will take down the Patriots questionable slot corners.
Nate says: The Packers turned their season around based on offense alone. Their defense is vulnerable. And Matt Ryan and his incredible offense will take care of business. In the AFC Championship, I trust Bill Belichick to coach his team to the Super Bowl. But watch out for Pittsburgh. They pose the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC.
Ryan says: The AFC championship should be a fantastic game, but Andy Reidís poor clock management will doom the Chiefs. The Giants seem to be the only team to have the Cowboysí number this year, and will ride the momentum of two huge wins earlier in the playoffs into a Super Bowl berth.
Ellie says: New England and Kansas City are pretty evenly matched, but in the end Andy Reid and Alex Smith donít have enough power to take down Brady and Belichick. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot will be too much for a weak Falcons defense.

Super Bowl:
Ben:
Steelers over Falcons, 30-27
Nate:
Falcons over Patriots, 31-27
Ryan:
Giants over Patriots, 17-14
Ellie:
Patriots over Cowboys, 35-31

Ben says: Big Ben is back to win another Super Bowl. With a terrific halfback in Le'Veon Bell and a star receiver as well as a few more complementary pieces on offense, the Steelers can beat the Falcons. The two teams are built similarly, with stars at QB, RB and WR, but the Steelers defense edges out the Falcons with names like James Harrison and Ryan Shazier. The dual-threat nature of Bell and Roethlisberger's ability to move in the pocket and extend plays will benefit their offense and lead them to victory.
Nate says: Super Bowl 51 will be an offensive battle between these two powerhouses, but in the end, the Falcons will prevail. Matt Ryan has a more talented group around him, and they will lead Atlanta to a Super Bowl ring.
Ryan says: This Super Bowl is not all that different from the two previous Giants-Patriots matchups. Tom Brady has a solid slot receiver in Julian Edelman, similar to Wes Welker of years past. Odell Beckham replaces Hakeem Nicks for New York. The Patriots have a tough defensive leader in Dontía Hightower instead of Vince Wilfork. The Giants still have Pierre-Paul, and Olivier Vernon takes the place of Justin Tuck. And just like the last two Super Bowls between these teams, Eli Manning will outduel the greatest quarterback of all time and lead the Giants to victory.
Ellie says: Tom Bradyís offense will come out on top after a solid 14-2 season. Belichick has had two weeks to prepare and is ready to stop Prescott in his tracks. The Dallas defense is powerful but will be no match for an elite New England offense that has been crushing it all season.



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  • Isabel Plutz (View Email) on January 9, 2017 at 1:31 PM
    Ryan, shameful.
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