We’re here. The NFL 2018 playoffs. The best 12 teams have qualified for the playoffs and it’s time to break it all down. Make no mistake about it, this will be a biased look at the 12 teams. The opinions and observations about each contender that were shaped by this crazy 2017 NFL betting season.
NFL 2018 Playoffs
AFC Teams in 2017 Playoffs
New England Patriots
There’s not much to dislike about the defending champs. They’ve battled injuries and inconsistent defense to remain the odds-on football betting favorite to repeat. I love Brady and the receivers all being relatively healthy by the time the divisional playoff round hits. But the defense is always a concern, particularly the linebacking corps. James Harrison is not the answer, but he will be a valuable piece simply based on his experience and knowledge of the Steelers.
If Antonio Brown is ready to go by the second round then Steeltown will be in good shape. Still, losing linebacker Ryan Shazier really hurt this squad. I feel like they’ll be helpless to crossing patterns over the middle and tight end pass catchers. But this team can win shootouts with the best of them. So they definitely have more than a puncher’s chance of getting to the Super Bowl.
A great defense and really strong running game. It’s an age-old football playoff formula. Jacksonville has it and has a home game in round one. Can they do it in cold weather on the road? Hmm, we’re not sure. But for the time being Blake Bortles is a playoff quarterback. Strange sentence, huh?
Kansas City Chiefs
This team could have been a top two team in seeding, had they not collapsed in such a drastic ways midseason. Still, they’ve won three in a row and are looking like the team that was tops over the first quarter of the season. It’s hard to know what to expect from them.
A team that won ugly all season is hoping to do it one more time in round one. I don’t buy it. The Titans are too sloppy of a team to scare anyone.
It’s a nice story that they’re finally back in the playoffs. But is anyone really expecting much out of them? They just don’t have enough playmakers in the passing game.
NFC Teams in 2017 Playoffs
Nick Foles is scaring some NFL betting folks. But not me. He’s experienced, crafty and surrounded by a ton of talent. With home field advantage the Eagles will have a good chance to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in over a decade. They’ll need to run the ball well and create turnovers on defense in order to do it.
A sexy football pick right now among sharp bettors. The Vikings don’t really have any glaring holes. The defense is arguably the most dominant of any playoff team and Kase Keenum might be in the MVP consideration, if you can believe it. They can most certainly pull off a trip to the championship game.
Los Angeles Rams
That offense has been spectacular all season long. But can the defense also grab some of the spotlight? The Rams have scared some bettors off because of Goff being a sophomore without playoff experience. It’s a fair concern. But it’s not like he will be facing any teams with recent Super Bowl rings until the title game. Drew Brees is the closest thing, but his title is now many moons ago.
New Orleans Saints
A strong running game, great defense and legendary quarterback. But can they win outside of the dome? Well, Minnesota would be a dome game and the Rams play in warm weather. So the sky seems to be the limit for this club.
Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly give this team hope that they can return to the title game for the second time in three years. And why wouldn’t they think that? Carolina isn’t perfect, but they are clutch, and that’s what matters right now.
Definitely an enigma of a team. The same roster as the one that made the big game last season. But the offense has been wildly inconsistent. Can they pull it together for a couple of games to regain their near-championship pedigree? It’s hard to say. Perhaps they can flip that switch and surprise us all.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.