Success will be reward
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
There will be 14 teams playing in the NFL postseason. Some for less time than others. But a playoff spot is a playoff spot, so let’s gaze into the crystal football to see what teams will be playing deeper into January.
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The Dallas Cowboys have the daunting task of repeating as NFC East champions. It hasn’t been done since the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles. In no way does this make America’s Team a lock to do it again, but they will find a way into the postseason. Somehow.
Green Bay Packers
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No Davante Adams, no problem … in the division. Green Bay is in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL and remains elite. The Packers should coast to another crown, but the playoffs will be more daunting than in previous tries.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Tom Brady is back and the rest of the NFC South is mediocre to awful. Not taking a big risk by saying the Bucs will make the playoffs as division champions. Todd Bowles, another TB, will benefit from Tampa Bay as opposed to the talent he had with the Jets.
Los Angeles Rams
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The Super Bowl champs actually catch a break as the Seattle Seahawks have fallen apart. That doesn’t guarantee two wins but it should make the scramble for a postseason berth far less tense in the NFC West. Look for the Rams to once again make the postseason.
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The Buffalo Bills are lengths better than the rest of the AFC East no matter how brilliant Bill Belichick is. Look for a third straight division crown. It won’t matter a ton to the Bills Mafia if the team continues to fail to deliver its first Super Bowl victory.
The Bengals had a tremendous turnaround in 2021 and found their way to the Super Bowl as AFC representatives. There is reason to be concerned about regression — look at the San Francisco 49ers after their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Figure Joe Burrow is the real deal and if he stays upright, the Bengals will either win the division or be a wild card.
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The Ravens finished last in 2021 as everything went wrong. The team seemed to have more players on IR than on the roster. That won’t happen again this season. John Harbaugh has restocked and will be in the running for an AFC North crown.
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Put the Ryan Tannehill-Malik Willis controversy on hold for a year. Losing A.J. Brown hurts but the Titans still feel like the team that will beat the other three — again — in the AFC South.
Kansas City Chiefs
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Everyone is gushing about what all the other teams have done in the AFC West. All that will do is serve as an incentive for Andy Reid and the Chiefs to make the postseason again.
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Russell Wilson’s experience and brilliance more than offset the inexperience of Nathaniel Hackett as a head coach. The Broncos found many ways to lose games under Vic Fangio. They should win those games (and more) with Wilson’s magic touch at QB.
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