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2020 NFL Season Predictions

2020 NFL playoff predictions: Change at top of AFC East

AFC EAST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills

(21 votes: Baldinger, Bhanpuri, Blair, Carr, Filice, Frelund, Grant, Hanzus, Lewis, Mariucci, O'Hara, Parr, Patra, Ross, Schein, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter, Warner, Zierlein)


2. New England Pariots (14 votes: Battista, Bergman, Brandt, Burleson, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Goodbread, Hall, Jones, Jones-Drew, Pioli, Rank, Rosenthal, Schrager)


Why Marc Ross chose the Bills: Brimming with confidence from last year's playoff appearance, the Bills boast one of the NFL's best defenses and an offense on the come up, with the addition of Stefon Diggs and the hopeful continued development of Josh Allen. Combine that with the departures of Tom Brady and several key Patriots defensive players, and this will finally be the year the Bills break the Patriots' grip on the division.

AFC NORTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens

(28 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Burleson, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Jones, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Mariucci, O'Hara, Parr, Pioli, Rosenthal, Ross, Schein, Schrager, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Warner, Zierlein)


2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6 votes: Battista, Brandt, Hanzus, Patra, Rank, Trotter)

3. Cleveland Browns (1 vote: Blair)


Why Marc Sessler chose the Ravens: The Ravens don't panic or flinch. They reload. They swing hammers. They topple the enemy with an offense that meshes old-school might and a player in Lamar Jackson who came to us from another star system. Barring an angry asteroid crashing into Baltimore, say hello to your AFC North champs.


AFC SOUTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts

(16 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Brandt, Cersosimo, Filice, Jones, O'Hara, Rank, Rosenthal, Schein, Sessler, Thomas, Trotter, Warner, Zierlein)


2. Tennessee Titans (10 votes: Blair, Burleson, Carr, Frelund, Goodbread, Hall, Mariucci, Patra, Pioli, Shook)

3. Houston Texans (9 votes: Battista, Chadiha, Grant, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Parr, Ross, Schrager)



Why Jim Trotter chose the Colts: The Colts filled arguably their two greatest needs in a dramatic way this offseason, signing quarterback Philip Rivers and trading for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Rivers has struggled with turnovers at times over the past four seasons, but part of that could be traced to inconsistent protection up front. That won't be a problem in Indianapolis, which has an outstanding line. Buckner is in his prime and is known for making those around him better.

AFC WEST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs

(33 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Burleson, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Hanzus, Jones, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Mariucci, O'Hara, Parr, Patra, Pioli, Rosenthal, Ross, Schein, Schrager, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter, Warner, Zierlein)


T-2. Denver Broncos (1 vote: Rank)

T-2. Las Vegas Raiders (1 vote: Carr)


Why Gregg Rosenthal chose the Chiefs: The defending champs need to go extra hard in their quest for home-field advantage. Even if the Arrowhead Stadium crowd is limited, the No. 1 seed in the AFC carries great significance: With postseason expansion, only one team per conference gets a bye into the Divisional Round.

AFC WILD CARD TEAMS

We asked voters to pick the three wild-card teams from each conference, ranking their picks from 1 to 3 based on where they project the squads to land in the pecking order. Here are the vote totals for the AFC:

Table inside Article
Rank Team WC Team 1 (3 pts) WC Team 2 (2 pts) WC Team 3 (1 pt)
1. Steelers (57) (15 votes: Baldinger, Bhanpuri, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Grant, Jones-Drew, Mariucci, O'Hara, Rosenthal, Ross, Shook, Thomas, Warner, Zierlein) (4 votes: Burleson, Carr, Lewis, Sessler) (4 votes: Goodbread, Parr, Schein, Schrager)
2. Bills (24) (5 votes: Battista, Burleson, Cersosimo, Goodbread, Pioli) (4 votes: Bergman, Brandt, Hall, Schrager) (1 vote: Jones-Drew)
3. Colts (23) (3 votes: Hall, Lewis, Parr) (5 votes: Blair, Frelund, Goodbread, Hanzus, Mariucci) (4 votes: Battista, Carr, Grant, Pioli)
4. Browns (20) (2 votes: Bergman, Schein) (4 votes: Jones, Rosenthal, Shook, Warner) (6 votes: Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Hall, Ross, Zierlein)
5. Ravens (19) (5 votes: Blair, Brandt, Hanzus, Patra, Trotter) (2 votes: Battista, Rank) No votes
6. Titans (16) (2 votes: Schrager, Sessler) (4 votes: Bhanpuri, Grant, Jones-Drew, Zierlein) (2 votes: Thomas, Warner)
7. Texans (14) No votes (6 votes: Baldinger, Cersosimo, Filice, O'Hara, Pioli, Trotter) (2 votes: Bergman, Mariucci)
T-8. Patriots (10) No votes (2 votes: Parr, Thomas) (6 votes: Baldinger, Hanzus, Lewis, Patra, Sessler, Shook)
T-8. Raiders (10) (1 vote: Jones) (1 vote: Schein) (5 votes: Bhanpuri, Burleson, O'Hara, Rank, Trotter)
10. Chargers (7) No votes (2 votes: Chadiha, Ross) (3 votes: Brandt, Jones, Rosenthal)
11. Chiefs (6) (2 votes: Carr, Rank) No votes No votes
12. Broncos (4) No votes (1 vote: Patra) (2 votes: Blair, Frelund)

NFC EAST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys

(27 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Burleson, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Grant, Hanzus, Jones, Jones-Drew, Lewis, O'Hara, Parr, Patra, Pioli, Schein, Schrager, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter, Warner)


2. Philadelphia Eagles (8 votes: Battista, Goodbread, Hall, Mariucci, Rank, Rosenthal, Ross, Zierlein)


Why Brian Baldinger chose the Cowboys: The Cowboys will benefit from the coaching change as Mike McCarthy should be more demanding. He knows what a Super Bowl team needs to look and play like, and they have the most talent in the division. McCarthy will turn that talent into production, especially on offense with the addition of CeeDee Lamb. The rookie can really help the offense close out games playing opposite Amari Cooper.


NFC NORTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers

(18 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bhanpuri, Burleson, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Hall, Jones, Jones-Drew, Lewis, O'Hara, Parr, Schein, Schrager, Sessler, Shook, Thomas)


2. Minnesota Vikings (15 votes: Bergman, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Grant, Hanzus, Mariucci, Patra, Pioli, Rosenthal, Ross, Trotter, Warner)

3. Chicago Bears (2 votes: Rank, Zierlein)


Why Maurice Jones-Drew chose the Packers: The Packers went 13-3 in Matt LaFleur's first year at the helm. Now Aaron Rodgers enters his second year in LaFleur's offensive system hungrier than ever to prove he's still got it in Year 16. On the flip side, the defense has improved in each of Mike Pettine's two years as defensive coordinator and should continue to climb. 

NFC SOUTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints

(28 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hanzus, Jones, Mariucci, O'Hara, Parr, Patra, Pioli, Rank, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Trotter, Warner, Zierlein)


2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7 votes: Burleson, Hall, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Schein, Schrager, Thomas)


Why David Carr chose the Saints: The Saints have the best roster from top to bottom with talent at every position. With Sean Payton's play-calling, Drew Brees' leadership, key additions on both sides of the ball (WR Emmanuel Sanders, S Malcolm Jenkins) and a hunger to get back to the Super Bowl, there's no stopping the Saints. Not even Tom Brady can do it.

NFC WEST CHAMPS

Rank
1
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers

(21 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Carr, Chadiha, Frelund, Hall, Hanzus, Lewis, Mariucci, O'Hara, Parr, Pioli, Rank, Ross, Schein, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter, Warner, Zierlein)


2. Seahawks (9 votes: Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Burleson, Cersosimo, Filice, Goodbread, Grant)

3. Cardinals (3 votes: Jones, Patra, Schrager)

4. Rams (2 votes: Jones-Drew, Rosenthal)


Why Cynthia Frelund chose the 49ers: Coming off an unusual, abbreviated training camp, my research points to a high probability that teams who complement strong defenses with offenses that efficiently disguise plays via pre-snap alignments have an edge. With Kyle Shanahan-run offenses perennially ranking among the league's best in terms of earning first downs and touchdowns and my model rating San Francisco's defense No. 1 in the NFC West (and among the top three in the league), the Niners forecast for another strong season in 2020.

NFC WILD CARD TEAMS

We asked voters to pick the three wild-card teams from each conference, ranking their picks from 1 to 3 based on where they project the squads to land in the pecking order. Here are the vote totals for the NFC:

Table inside Article
Rank Team WC Team 1 (3 pts) WC Team 2 (2 pts) WC Team 3 (1 pt)
1 Buccaneers (57) (11 votes: Battista, Bergman, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Filice, O'Hara, Patra, Ross, Sessler, Warner) (9 votes: Baldinger, Bhanpuri, Grant, Hanzus, Parr, Pioli, Rank, Rosenthal, Trotter) (6 votes: Blair, Chadiha, Goodbread, Mariucci, Shook, Zierlein)
2 Seahawks (33) (3 votes: Hanzus, Shook, Trotter) (9 votes: Battista, Carr, Jones, O'Hara, Patra, Ross, Sessler, Warner, Zierlein) (6 votes: Baldinger, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Rank, Schein, Thomas)
3 49ers (28) (5 votes: Bhanpuri, Grant, Jones, Jones-Drew, Rosenthal) (6 votes: Blair, Brandt, Cersosimo, Filice, Goodbread, Schrager) (1 vote: Bergman)
4 Saints (20) (6 votes: Burleson, Hall, Lewis, Schein, Schrager, Thomas) (1 vote: Jones-Drew) No votes
T-5. Cowboys (16) (4 votes: Goodbread, Mariucci, Rank, Zierlein) (1 vote: Hall) (2 votes: Rosenthal, Ross)
T-5. Vikings (16) (2 votes: Baldinger, Parr) (4 votes: Burleson, Frelund, Shook, Thomas) (2 votes: Battista, Hall)
7. Packers (14) (2 votes: Blair, Pioli) (3 votes: Bergman, Chadiha, Mariucci) (2 votes: Brandt, Hanzus)
8. Eagles (11) (2 votes: Chadiha, Frelund) No votes (5 votes: Burleson, Grant, Parr, Patra, Trotter)
9. Falcons (5) No votes No votes (5 votes: Bhanpuri, Cersosimo, Jones, O'Hara, Pioli)
T-10. Cardinals (4) No votes (1 vote: Schein) (2 votes: Filice, Frelund)
T-10. Rams (4) No votes (1 vote: Lewis) (2 votes: Schrager, Warner)
T-12. Lions (1) No votes No votes (1 vote: Sessler)
T-12. Bears (1) No votes No votes (1 vote: Carr)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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