We’re now officially nine weeks into the NFL season, and we know a lot more about the league than when we tried this exercise in the preseason. The Chiefs look like the Chiefs again, Geno Smith and the Seahawks are shocking the league, and new superpowers have emerged in the NFC. So with half a season of knowledge under our belt, here are the Alarm staff predictions for the NFL midseason playoffs.
Kevin Clark: Why did I choose the Packers before the season? First, I’m a fool. Second: I thought the roster was good enough for another Aaron Rodgers MVP-like season to help them break through. Rodgers is a far cry from that kind of performance, and the roster hasn’t been good enough to make up for it (and to be clear, most rosters would suffer the same fate if their elite QB struggled). Instead, the best quarterback in football is Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s roster is good enough to win a Super Bowl as long as he keeps playing like that, which he will. The Chiefs have scored more points per game than anyone else in football, and that’s not going to end anytime soon.
Nora Princiotti: If I could guarantee that I won’t have to say the words “ulnar collateral ligament” multiple times on podcasts over the next three months, I’d stick to my Bills preseason pick as representatives of the AFC Super Bowl. But Josh Allen’s injury to his throwing elbow is of enough concern that I put the Chiefs up. Kansas City may have lost some of that “score from anywhere” ability they had with Tyreek Hill, but they still have the most effective offense. in the NFL and Patrick Mahomes playing in his prime. I’m going to take that combination against the less experienced Eagles, the most complete team in the NFC.
Steven Ruiz: I picked the Chiefs to win it all in August and they gave me no reason to change my mind. If anything, the rest of the league gave me plenty of reason to feel more confident. I would have considered moving to Buffalo, especially after their win over Kansas City earlier this season, but the high school injuries and Josh Allen’s UCL sprain are red flags I don’t want to ignore. My pick of the NFC side changes from week to week, and this happens to be a time when I feel the 49ers. When healthy, they can match the undefeated Eagles in talent, and I take Kyle Shanahan (and DeMeco Ryans) over Nick Sirianni (and Jonathan Gannon) without hesitation. My heart wanted to pick Geno Smith’s Seahawks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and I honestly think they have a chance, but I was too cowardly to do it.
I’m left handed: Choosing leaders is boring. Is it boring to choose the Chiefs? It’s like we’re still trying to figure out which team can take on the Chiefs, and the answer is: the lucky team! The Chiefs haven’t been beaten resoundingly in an AFC playoff game since Mahomes took over, so I’ll take them on the pitch. And if that means we get a historic run from Lamar Jackson or Justin Herbert or Josh Allen or Tua Tagovailoa, that’s exciting! But for my money, give me Mahomes.
Sheil Kapadia: I picked the Bills to win it before the season, and even though Allen’s elbow injury makes me nervous, I’m sticking with them. The Bills lead the NFL with a +102 point differential. The defense should be healthier and the offense is one of the hardest to defend in the NFL. If Allen’s injury turns out to be serious, I think I’ll move to the Chiefs. Why not the Eagles? I couldn’t do that to the listeners of Ringer’s Philly Special, who would blame me (probably rightly so) if I picked them and they choke. Glad I could give you a window into my thought process here. I hope everything makes sense.
Lindsay Jones: I feel less confident in this pick now than I did in pre-season for two reasons: (1) the current uncertainty surrounding Allen’s elbow and (2) Patrick Mahomes panicking. But I still believe that when healthy, the Bills have the best roster in the NFL from top to bottom, a super monster at QB, solid training and a significant advantage on the field if they are able to. get the no. 1 seed. If Buffalo is indeed able to win the AFC, it will be battle tested in a way that the Eagles, my NFC pick, have not been.
Danny Kelly: The Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill in the offseason and their offense kind of… got a whole lot better? At this point last year, Kansas City was averaging 24.6 points per game, which ranked it 15th. They’re averaging 30.4 points per game this season, the best in the NFL. They’re averaging more points per practice (where they also rank #1), more expected points added per game (also #1), and have doubled their offensive DVOA compared to the same time last year. Mahomes is kind of a wizard. I’m just gonna ride with this guy.
Danny Heifetz: I’m sticking with the Bills as a Super Bowl pick despite the possibility of Allen’s arm dropping by February. Offensively, the Bills have more ways to get a bucket than any other team. Defensively, it’s easier to compare the Bills to other sports: Buffalo’s defensive line can rotate linemen like a hockey team, and Von Miller is its closest All-Star. The only things that could slow this team down are injuries and the crushing weight of toppling a generation of Buffalo Sports Sadness.
Rodger Sherman: I picked the Bills at the start of the year and I still pick them now. (I want NEVER change my opinions on Josh Allen.) (Don’t check me on that.) They have the NFL’s best point differential (+102) and average the most yards per play (6.5, making it one of the top 20 teams of all time). And they did it by committing about two turnovers per game, including some of Allen’s funniest interceptions of his career – and he had quite a few. The Bills are the best team in the league and they’re not even playing to their full potential. They’re still in line to get home-field advantage – Buffalo in January is going to be fun.
austin gayle: The AFC wild-card race will be a staple on TV in the second half of the season. The Bengals, Jets, Patriots, Chargers and Dolphins are all expected to compete for one of the three wildcard spots, and that’s not even taking into account three-win teams like the Broncos or Browns. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, New England and Cincinnati face the toughest first and second remaining schedules while New York faces the second easiest. I have the best offenses (and the best quarterbacks) in the playoff field, which leaves Mac Jones and Zach Wilson’s teams out to watch playoff football.