Too Early 2019 NFL Playoff Predictions!

By Ha Kung Wong, Scott King and Joanne Kong

We’re finally here!

And no, I’m not talking about the new season of Dancing with the Stars, although Ray Lewis will be on the show this year, as well as Kate Flannery, best known for playing Meredith on the “The Office”.  Which is awesome because I’ve watched “The Office” on Netflix like 1000 times.  But I digress.

I’m talking about Week 1 of the 2019 NFL Season!  So what better way to celebrate than to make way too early NFL Playoff Predictions, because…well, why not!

Predictions

Ha Kung Wong

Surprisingly, I ended up with the matchup everyone was expecting to have in 2018 and the poor Rams doing their best impression of the Bills circa 1991 to 1994.  But there are certainly question marks that could derail my playoff predictions.

First of all, the entire Ezekiel Elliott hold out could really shake things up for the NFC East, as although I respect Tony Pollard, the Cowboys will be a major downgrade without Zeke, and I think on the outside looking in, particularly since the Eagles start with a much softer strength of schedule (26th) than the Cowboys (tied for 14th).  Talk around town is that Zeke will be signed, but we’ve all seen what happened to Le’veon Bell last year, so let’s not count our chickens just yet.  [UPDATE 9/4/19: Elliott got a 6-year $90 million extension, bringing his total to $103 million over 8 years, the highest paid RB in the NFL.  So this wild card is now off the table and I feel better about my predictions!]

Second, Todd Gurley’s health is also a concern, as we saw what happened when Gurley wasn’t a full go last year.  If he goes down early, or isn’t 100% entering the playoffs, the Rams may find their road to the Super Bowl cut short as well.

Last, although I’m really high on the Texans this year, they do sport the 4th toughest strength of schedule and have one of the weakest offensive lines in the NFL.  The acquisition of Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins is huge upgrade for the line, but now minus Lamar Miller for the season (and no, I don’t think the Carlos Hyde acquisition is relevant), the Texans are one Deshaun Watson injury away from irrelevance, which could, in my model, allow the Patriots into the AFC Championship game, where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are near unstoppable.

Ultimately, though, none of that derails my Super Bowl champion pick, as the Chiefs have everything they had last year plus a year of experience.  I think Patrick Mahomes stays amazing and Chiefs take home the Lombardi in 2019.

Scott King

I’ve used the http://playoffpredictor.com site the last few years to predict every NFL teams record based on selection of their games on a week by week basis.  I think this is a great way to predict the game winners because it calculates the actual winners and losers per the schedule.  Several years ago I built a spreadsheet to do this same process but never took it any further.   After making my picks I wasn’t too surprised with how everything turned out.  I’m high in the same teams most people are this year, Pats, Chargers, Chiefs, Eagles, Falcons and Rams.  I didn’t have much turnover in playoff teams so I know this will end up being wrong.  I have the Steelers and Browns in the playoffs but the ravens and colts out.   I expect the SB will have some combination of Pats, Chargers, Chiefs, Eagles, Falcons and Rams. For this simulation I landed on Patriots and Eagles.  I think this is a solid prediction and I’ll ride with it.  I don’t expect to see anyone outside of this top 6 unless there’s another major injury or surprise retirement.

Joanne Kong

Various factors impact every NFL season, injuries being the most prominent.  With the preseason ended, which lets face it, tells us absolutely nothing about their success in the actual season, we are left guessing which teams will succeed and which are doomed to fail.

After finishing my picks, there are three things that I found surprising:

  • The disparity between winning teams and losing teams are huge.

It’s not an unfamiliar story.  The bad teams are really bad and the good teams are too good.  And once again, the AFC South will be the worst division in the league.

  • The AFC East will be a competitive division (maybe).

Let’s face it, the New England Patriots make it to the post-season every season because they are in one of the weakest divisions in the league, outside of themselves.  Although, the Jets, Bills and Dolphins might be in the process of rebuilding (which they have been trying to do for years), this year the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills might give the Patriots some actual competition.  The Jets have Le’Veon Bell, Sam Darnold and a strong defense.  The Bills have a strong backfield with rookie Devin Singletary (after cutting LeSean McCoy), and veterans Frank Gore and TJ Yeldon; a second year quarterback, Josh Allen; veteran wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, a strong front offensive line and one of the top 10 defenses in the league.  These two teams might not make it to the post-season, but they’re heading in the right direction.

Luckily for the Patriots, they will have home field advantage against their hardest competitors, allowing them to take the AFC East once again.  Outside of the AFC East, the Patriots might find it difficult to compete in the post-season with an aging Tom Brady.

  • Will the Cleveland Brown really be this good?

With the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. to a rising star quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who is entering into his second season, and a backfield force in running back Nick Chubb, the Cleveland Browns looked primed to succeed.  Ranked 23rd in strength of schedule, the Browns 2019 season schedule might just shoot them to the top.

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