With the 2019 NFL season at its midpoint, our analysts revisit/revise their preseason playoff predictions.
*Participating analysts: Brian Baldinger, Judy Battista, Jeremy Bergman, Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Gil Brandt, David Carr, Charley Casserly, Brooke Cersosimo, Jeffri Chadiha, Gennaro Filice, Akbar Gbajabiamila, DeAngelo Hall, Dan Hanzus, James Jones, Willie McGinest, Dan Parr, Kevin Patra, Adam Rank, Marcel Reece, Michael Robinson, Gregg Rosenthal, Steve Smith Sr., Joe Thomas, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jim Trotter. *
AFC East champs
UNANIMOUS PICK: New England Patriots(26 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Casserly, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Gbajabiamila, Hall, Hanzus, Jones, McGinest, Parr, Patra, Rank, Reece, Robinson, Rosenthal, Smith, Thomas, Tomlinson, Trotter)
Why LaDainian Tomlinson chose the Patriots: Bill Belichick has built a well-oiled machine that is winning handily each week. Allowing 7.6 points per game, his defense isn't going to let many offenses light up the scoreboard. It certainly won't have any trouble against division rivals, who each rank in the bottom half of the league in yards per game. It feels like this defense could deliver Tom Brady his seventh Lombardi Trophy.
AFC North champs
Why Charley Casserly chose the Ravens: They win the division by default, as much as anything. There may not be a team with a winning record in the AFC North!
AFC South champs
1. Indianapolis Colts(16 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Casserly, Chadiha, Hall, Parr, Rank, Robinson, Rosenthal, Smith, Tomlinson, Trotter)
2. Houston Texans(9 votes: Cersosimo, Filice, Gbajabiamila, Hanzus, Jones, McGinest, Patra, Reece, Thomas)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars(1 vote: Bergman)
Why Jim Trotter chose the Colts: The Colts are 2-0 in the division and have won five of their last six against second-place Houston. They're also comfortable playing in pressure situations -- each of their games has been decided by seven points or less -- which bodes well for the months of November and December.
AFC West champs
Why David Carr chose the Chiefs: Well, to put it simply, the Chiefs almost beat Green Baywithout their MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and two of their best defensive players (Chris Jones and Frank Clark). Andy Reid is so good at adapting his game plan, and he knows the best way to utilize his greatest players. With the defense improving under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs aren't giving up their division lead.
AFC Wild Card 1
1. Buffalo Bills(8 votes: Battista, Bhanpuri, Brandt, Casserly, Hanzus, Robinson, Rosenthal, Trotter)
T-2. Houston Texans(7 votes: Blair, Carr, Chadiha, Hall, Parr, Smith, Tomlinson)
T-2. Indianapolis Colts(7 votes: Bergman, Cersosimo, Filice, Gbajabiamila, McGinest, Patra, Thomas)
T-4. Baltimore Ravens(1 vote: Jones)
T-4. Jacksonville Jaguars(1 vote: Rank)
T-4. Kansas City Chiefs(1 vote: Reece)
T-4. Tennessee Titans(1 vote: Baldinger)
Why Michael Robinson chose the Bills: Sean McDermott has his team in good position heading into November. And with a favorable schedule in the next four weeks (home games against the Redskins and Broncos, away games in Cleveland and Miami), the Bills have a legitimate chance to reach nine wins before Thanksgiving. Buffalo's third-ranked defense has played extremely well at times, and if the offense improves down the stretch, this team could be scary in the postseason.
AFC Wild Card 2
1. Buffalo Bills(9 votes: Bergman, Chadiha, Filice, Hall, McGinest, Parr, Patra, Smith, Thomas)
2. Houston Texans(8 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bhanpuri, Brandt, Casserly, Rank, Robinson, Rosenthal)
3. Oakland Raiders(4 votes: Carr, Gbajabiamila, Jones, Trotter)
4. Indianapolis Colts(2 votes: Hanzus, Reece)
T-5. Cleveland Browns(1 vote: Blair)
T-5. Jacksonville Jaguars(1 vote: Cersosimo)
T-5. Los Angeles Chargers(1 vote: Tomlinson)
NFC East champs
1. Dallas Cowboys(21 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Casserly, Chadiha, Filice, Hanzus, Gbajabiamila, Hall, McGinest, Parr, Patra, Reece, Robinson, Rosenthal, Smith, Thomas, Tomlinson, Trotter)
2. Philadelphia Eagles(4 votes: Bergman, Carr, Cersosimo, Rank)
3. New York Giants(1 vote: Jones)
NFC North champs
Why Willie McGinest chose the Packers: The Packers might be one of the most balanced teams in the league right now. Aaron Rodgers has played at an MVP level and his backs are running all over defenses. Plus, Mike Pettine's much-improved defense has given the team a chance to win every week. Green Bay is in the driver's seat in the division and shows no signs of slowing down.
NFC South champs
UNANIMOUS PICK: New Orleans Saints(26 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Casserly, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Gbajabiamila, Hall, Hanzus, Jones, McGinest, Parr, Patra, Rank, Reece, Robinson, Rosenthal, Smith, Thomas, Tomlinson, Trotter)
Why Gregg Rosenthal chose the Saints: Long one of the NFL's best divisions, the NFC South could turn into a one-team show in a loaded conference. The Saints should be worried about obtaining a bye because the division race already looks like it's over.
NFC West champs
Why Jeffri Chadiha chose the 49ers: A lot of people thought the 49ers would improve. Nobody saw them trotting out a dominant defense that might lead them to the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
NFC Wild Card 1
1. Minnesota Vikings(13 votes: Brandt, Casserly, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Hall, Hanzus, Jones, Robinson, Rosenthal, Thomas, Tomlinson, Trotter)
2. Seattle Seahawks(7 votes: Battista, Blair, Carr, Gbajabiamila, Parr, Patra, Smith)
3. San Francisco 49ers(3 votes: Bhanpuri, McGinest, Reece)
4. Los Angeles Rams(2 votes: Bergman, Rank)
5. Green Bay Packers(1 vote: Baldinger)
Why James Jones chose the Vikings: Minnesota is finding its stride in all three phases heading into the second half of the season. Dalvin Cook and the run game are exceptional, Kirk Cousins is playing at an MVP level and Mike Zimmer's defense is feasting. If it weren't for the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings might win the North, but they are too talented to miss out on playing football in January.
NFC Wild Card 2
1. Seattle Seahawks(9 votes: Brandt, Casserly, Chadiha, Cersosimo, Filice, Hanzus, Rank, Thomas, Trotter)
T-2. Los Angeles Rams(5 votes: Battista, Gbajabiamila, Reece, Rosenthal, Smith)
T-2. Minnesota Vikings(5 votes: Bergman, Bhanpuri, McGinest, Parr, Patra)
4. San Francisco 49ers(4 votes: Hall, Jones, Robinson, Tomlinson)
T-5. Detroit Lions(1 vote: Blair)
T-5. Green Bay Packers(1 vote: Carr)
T-5. Philadelphia Eagles(1 vote: Baldinger)
Why Adam Rank chose the Seahawks: Love what the Seahawks are doing. Russell Wilson is having the best season of his career, which is saying something. They also run the ball very well, too. And Pete Carroll continues to do his thing. I won't be shocked if the Seahawks make a deep run in the playoffs.