12 NFL Teams To Likely Make the Playoffs

nfl playoffs

1. New England Patriots In order for the reigning Super Bowl champions to miss out on the playoffs, disaster would have to strike. And not just the kind of disaster that results in Tom Brady missing four games, rather the kind of disaster where Tom Brady misses the entire season, Jimmy Garoppolo develops an allergy to football, and Bill Belichick’s wife forces him to give up coaching. If all that happens, the Patriots may miss the playoffs.

2. Green Bay Packers Since Aaron Rodgers took over under center in 2008, Green Bay has only missed the playoffs once, and it was his first year at the helm. The Packers’ eight consecutive playoff appearances tie them with the Patriots for the longest active streak. With Rodgers still running the offense, and a handful of additions to the secondary, the Packers are lined up to extend the streak to nine.

3. Seattle Seahawks The Seahawks may still be held back by their poor offensive line, but their division holds two of the worst teams in the league: the Rams and 49ers. Even if the Cardinals bounce back and steal the division, Seattle’s defense is too talented to miss out on the playoffs completely.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers The return of Martavis Bryant (a lethal deep-threat) is going to be huge for the Steeler offense. As long as Le’Veon Bell’s holdout doesn’t last into the regular season, Pittsburgh’s attack will easily be a top-five unit. The addition of TJ Watt as an edge rusher will take some pressure off 39-year-old James Harrison in passing situations.

5. New York Giants Here’s where things get a lot less certain. Although many betting sites are favoring the Cowboys in the NFC East, their schedule is as tough as a steak off my Grandpa’s grill. The Giants had the second-best defense in the league last season and added a lot of firepower around Eli Manning. A Wild Card berth is the floor in New York this year.

6. Oakland Raiders Now that first-round pick Gareon Conley has been cleared of the April rape allegations that resulted in his plummet in the NFL Draft, it’s safe to say the Raiders secondary will be much improved. Add in Marshawn Lynch to an already explosive offense, and the Raiders should make a second consecutive playoff appearance as long as QB Derek Carr stays healthy.

7. Dallas Cowboys As previously mentioned, the Cowboys no longer have the luxury of a last-place schedule. Teams are going to stack the box against Dallas this year in an effort to force Dak Prescott to win games with his arm. But throwing eight guys in the box doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to staunch the Dallas run game. The Cowboys’ offensive line is just too powerful, even without Ronald Leary and Doug Free.

8. Atlanta Falcons The NFC South is going to be a heated battle. Since the realignment of the divisions in 2002, only the Carolina Panthers have been able to repeat as NFC South champions (2013-15). Atlanta lost Kyle Shanahan, the architect of its league-leading offense, in the offseason, and the other three teams in the South all improved (at least on paper). Fortunately for the Falcons, they have a young, talented defense that will help overcome any regression from the offense.

9. Kansas City Chiefs It’s hard to say the Chiefs improved their team this offseason. They lost wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and spent their first-round pick on a QB who will ride the pine this season (Patrick Mahomes). Those aren’t moves that scream “win now!” However, Kansas City didn’t really need to get that much better in order to make the playoffs. They’re returning the core of a team that went 12-4 and won a supremely competitive AFC West. If there’s one thing Andy Reid knows how to do it’s win regular-season games. He’s 43-21 with KC and 173-114 all time.

10. Houston Texans The popular pick out in the AFC South is Tennessee, but Houston’s defense (when intact) is simply too dominant. No team allowed fewer yards than the Texans last season, and they accomplished that feat with JJ Watt sidelined for 13 games. Guess what, the beast is back and that front, which also includes former no. 1-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, is going to be downright disruptive.

11. Arizona Cardinals Though Carolina and Tampa Bay are garnering a lot of attention as potential NFC playoff teams, Arizona has the more complete roster. If their offensive line can stay healthy this season, Carson Palmer will prove he’s still got some gas in the tank. The 37-year-old, who usually goes full-tilt in the summer, limited his throwing reps, a move that will pay huge dividends as the regular-season grind progresses.

12. Denver Broncos That’s right, the AFC West is sending three teams to the playoffs. The Broncos offensive line resembled a sheet of parchment paper last year, and their defense was still able to win them nine games. The additions of Ronald Leary and Garett Bolles will bring the offensive line back to respectability, providing Denver with a ground game. The improved line will also give the QB – whether its Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch — time to get the ball into the hands of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

Jordan and Michael Tozzi were 2013's Most Accurate Fantasy Football Experts in the nation. Owners of LegionReport.com

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