Back before the MLB season started, I introduced a new way of gambling on professional sports: the bracket challenge. Modeled after March Madness, each entry requires that you pick each playoff team and their seed, as well as the winners of each playoff game every step of the way. I asked The 300s team to submit their picks before Week 1 started. Let’s check out how the guys think this season will shake down:
(AFC): Yeah, I know; I look like a real homer by picking the Pats as the No. 1 seed (and eventual Super Bowl-winner). But that defense looks LOADED, and we still got that Tom Brady guy. And yes, the Chiefs seem like an easy pick for the No. 2 seed after last year’s epic run. I’d like to have chosen someone else, but again, let’s call a spade a spade. The Jags coming in as the three seed might surprise some, but I think the vast majority of the NFL world is sleeping hard on them this year. Their defense is still elite (and only got better this offseason), and they finally have a good quarterback for the first time since Nam. The AFC North is going to be a battle all season long, and honestly the toughest decision I made was keeping Baltimore out! Though the Texans may look like they loaded up in recent weeks, I think Houston fans are in for quite the disappointment this year.
(NFC): This year will be Aaron Rodgers’s redemption. After a string of injury-plagued seasons and questions surrounding his psyche and character, the 35-year-old future H.O.F. will be determined to shut all the doubters up. He’s got some great weapons on offense, and the Packers should also feature the best defense they’ve had in years. I will be shocked if the Packers are not, at the very least, a top-two seed in the conference this year. The Saints will continue to roll as the No. 2 seed, although they’ll feel a lot of pressure from a solid Carolina squad, which comes in as my first wild-card team. The Eagles will give New Orleans a run for their money for a bye behind an MVP season from Carson Wentz.
In the end, we finally get the dream Super Bowl matchup that we as NFL fans have been deprived of for FAR too long: Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. And ultimately, Brady and the boys will win No. 7 after the best cherry on top the NFL has ever given us.
The Patriots will make the playoffs and get a first-round bye again because they always do, but their unprecedented run of success has to take a year off at some point (not come to an end). I’ve got the Patriots bowing out in the Divisional Round. I’m not buying the Browns, so I’ve got the Steelers and the Chiefs in the AFC CG with Mahomes getting to the Big Game in his second year as a starter. In the NFC I’m going with the Boys. With Zeke on board they should be locked and loaded. In the Super Bowl, I’ve got Mahomes and Reid hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
(NFC): My first impression as I filled this out is that The NFC is muchhhh tougher, at least internally. The South in particular where you have the Saints, Falcons and Panthers and the North where all four teams will compete. That’s just a motherfucker. At the same time, those teams will have a tougher time building solid records when the teams they play twice a year are that much better than the teams in other divisions, so they’ll kind of cannibalize themselves in terms of the playoffs.
(AFC): As for the AFC, I see the Pats, Browns, and Chiefs sleepwalking their way to the Division crown. The Jags might get some fight out of the Texans, and honestly who even knows what Nick Foles is so they could shit the bed entirely. After that I kind of rolled the dice. I like the Bengals offense and the Texans, despite Bill O’Brien’s best efforts, still have a good team. Add that to the fact that the Titans and Capt Luck’s former team are looking rough and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the South have two playoff teams.
I had all division champs in the divisional round save the Vikings, who I think could cause some trouble. After that though I think Baker runs out of magic against the Pats and Drew Brees and Co. are a little too much for the Birds. We know what happens next.
(AFC): I’m in agreement with the rest of the boys in that I think the Pats should roll through the conference this year. This is as excited as I’ve been for a Pats team in a long time, and that’s saying something. The Chiefs took a step backward this year, the Jaguars are marginally better and their competition in the South got worse, and I will never be afraid of Philip Rivers. I think this is the year the Browns finally make the playoffs, but that run can only last so long.
(NFC): This conference is a total crap shoot. I don’t think there is a clear winner in any division save the West, which the Rams should win easily. Beyond that, I don’t believe Cam Newton has what it takes to win the South, which allows Brees another division title, Wentz and Co. should handle the Cowboys to take the East, and both Aaron Rodgers and the Vikings bounce back this year to come out of the North.
I see the Championship round games being basically the same as last year. I do think Goff will disappoint and Gurley will wear down again, allowing the Vikings to ride a balanced team performance into the NFC final. Brees and co. will get their revenge for last years PI call while Brady tops Mahomes again. In the end I see Brady prevailing over Brees in a QB matchup for the ages.
(AFC): I think the Patriots are still the cream of the crop in the AFC. Is that blind fanaticism for my favorite team? ….no. They’re just still the best team in the conference. The Chiefs are still electric, but are without their dynamite running back (unless everyone’s sleeper Damien Williams takes off). I think the Texans take a step forward this year after beefing up their OL with Laremy Tunsil and Deshaun Watson another year removed from his knee injury, althrough trading Jadaveon Clowney won’t necessarily help. The Steelers are going to be good again, but are now without their two best players from the last few years. The Chargers and the Ravens do just well enough to make the playoffs, but don’t make it very far. Despite what Skynet/ESPN tells you, the Patriots will not lose to the Texans, especially not because of Brady’s age. In fact they will topple ole Billy O’Brien once again and make the Super Bowl. Again.
(NFC): The Saints have some unfinished business and arguably the most electric player in the league in Alvin Kamara for Drew Brees to feed so I’m picking them to also advance to the SB as a No. 1 seed. The Rams don’t get the benefit of shitty refs this time and I honestly think that team takes a step back with the suddenly breaking down Todd Gurley. This is why you don’t give running backs record setting contracts. The Vikings rebound from a down year, the Cowboys clinch a Wild Card spot as do the Seahawks who pull an upset in the opening round, as the Eagles make it to the NFC Championship with a finally healthy Carson Wentz but can’t get over the hump.
Super Bowl LIV: Pats 21 – Saints 17
Super Bowls are never as high scoring as people think they will be. You don’t even have to look back all that far (February) for a prime example of this. So I’m taking the Pats to grind out their 7th Super Bowl.
This may be a Boston blog, but you gotta be crazy to bet against the Patriots this year. Pats are the odds on favorite to win it all here at The 300s, and most of us agree it’ll be the Saints out of the NFC. Big Z is the only one with a mind of his own…good for him. Go Pats, hello Antonio.