We’ve finished with the regular season predictions, so why not take a stab at the postseason. It’s the “Overtime” edition of the Steelers schedule, so let’s start with the final standings in the AFC North.
- Steelers (14-2)
- Browns (6-10)
- Ravens (5-11)
- Bengals (4-12)
Not the best year for the AFC North overall. However, a 6-win Browns team may have the Cleveland faithful looking to the future. Will Tyrod Taylor still be the quarterback or will Baker Mayfield have taken over the top spot?
If the Browns are lucky, Taylor plays well enough to get them through the season and lets Mayfield learn on the bench for a year, but it feels like Mayfield is running the show by season’s end. It may be enough to win two games in the final stretch (Cincinnati and Baltimore) allowing the Browns to wrap up second place in the division.
The Ravens drop 3 of their last 4 (Cleveland, Kansas City, and LA Chargers) and still manage to edge out the Bengals for third place as Cincy’s season of despair ends (loses to Chargers, Raiders, Browns and Steelers). The Bengals may even be contending for the number one draft pick.
- Steelers (14-2)
- Chargers (13-3)
- Jaguars (12-4)
- Patriots (12-4)
- Texans (11-5)
- Chiefs (11-5)
That third quarter win against the Chargers ends up paying dividends as it secures the Steelers the top spot in the AFC. The Patriots get pushed to the fourth seed after losing to Jacksonville early in the season while the Jags take the third spot. The Texans and the Chiefs round out the wildcard spots.
Wild Card weekend sees the Jaguars hosting the Chiefs, and the Patriots hosting the Texans. I look for the Texans to upset the Pats and the Jags to defeat the Chiefs, leading to divisional rounds with Pittsburgh hosting the Texans and the Chargers hosting the Jags. The Steelers win a high scoring game, and the Chargers earn a rematch with the Steelers in Pittsburgh by sending the Jags packing.
The AFC championship is a rematch of week 13 and the Steelers come out on top to head to their ninth Super Bowl.
- Saints (15-1)
- Rams (13-3)
- Eagles (12-4)
- Packers (11-5)
- Falcons (12-4)
- Vikings (10-6)
A lot of people like the Eagles to repeat, and there is no doubt the Rams have tried to put together their version of “the dream team”. The Vikings have a potent defense, and “Mr. Guaranteed Money” Kirk Cousins, but this could be the Saints year in the NFC. Second-year players often times show a lot of growth as the game slows down even more and they better understand how to handle life in the NFL, and Alvin Kamara may have a great sophomore season which could allow Drew Brees an opportunity to go out on top (at least in the NFC).
With the Rams and Saints earning first round byes, it’s the Eagles and Vikings in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game and the Packers and Falcons all vying to move out of the wildcard round. The Vikings get their revenge and move on to face the Saints while the Packers beat the Falcons and play the Rams. The home teams win out in the divisional round and the NFC Championship is the Rams and Saints with the Saints bringing home the win and heading to the Super Bowl to face the Steelers.
It’s another rematch, this time with the Steelers and the Saints contending for the NFL Championship. This is the Super Bowl we’ve all been waiting for – a shootout between two gunslinger quarterbacks. Defense is a secondary concern in this one as these two quarterbacks rack up touchdowns and yards. In the end, the Steelers win a high scoring affair and Ben Roethlisberger earns his first Super Bowl MVP to go with his third ring.
Steelers 49 – Saints 41
Is that how it will all play out? Probably not. Still, I don’t think any of these guesses are unreasonable. We will have to wait until the end of the season to see how right (or wrong) they are. Bring on week 1!