Season Predictions

2021 NFL playoff predictions at midseason mark: Picking 8 division winners and 6 wild card teams

NOTE: All betting lines -- listed alongside each team -- are courtesy of FanDuel Sports Book and are current as of noon ET on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

AFC EAST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
5-3 · (-700)

(26 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Parr, Patra, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Smith, Thomas, Zierlein)


2. New England Patriots (+440) | 2 votes: Bhanpuri, Trotter


Why Cynthia Frelund chose the Bills: Although the Patriots are keeping this race interesting, the Bills have only one remaining game where they're forecast to be the underdog in my model (Week 14 at Tampa, and it's by a very narrow margin). This doesn't mean they won't lose from here on out (Buffalo still plays New England twice), but they have better odds than the Pats, who are only more than 5 percent favorites in three of their eight remaining games. While we saw an improbable Bills loss against the Jaguars in Week 9, it's likely we'll see the offense and defense work in lock step from here on out. 

AFC NORTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Baltimore Ravens
6-2 · (-170)

(26 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Parr, Patra, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Smith, Trotter, Zierlein)


2. Cleveland Browns (+420) | 2 votes: Bergman, Thomas


Why Marcas Grant chose the Ravens: The AFC North is filled with flawed teams that can’t get out of their own way. In that case, why not pick the team with the fewest apparent weaknesses?


AFC SOUTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Tennessee Titans
7-2 · (-5000)

UNANIMOUS PICK


Why Maurice Jones-Drew chose the Titans: The Titans are comfortably in the AFC South driver's seat having already swept the Colts this season. More than that, they have turned into a balanced juggernaut of late, disposing of every team in their way -- with and without Derrick Henry -- on the way to the AFC's No. 1 seed.

AFC WEST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Los Angeles Chargers
5-3 · (+140)

(13 votes: Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Cersosimo, Grant, Parr, Patra, Reuter, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter)


2. Kansas City Chiefs (+175) | 10 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, hall, Hanzus, Rosenthal, Ross, Zierlein

3. Las Vegas Raiders (+450) | 5 votes: Carr, Chadiha, Jones-Drew, Rank, Smith


Why Kevin Patra chose the Chargers: In a hotly contested division, where little separates the top from the bottom, Justin Herbert is the difference-maker to keep the Chargers ahead down the stretch. Brandon Staley’s confidence in the offense to generate big fourth-down plays to cover an up-and-down defense, and trust in Herbert, give L.A. an edge over the rest of the division.  


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. Patriots (37) 6 VOTES: Battista, Brandt, Grant, Parr, Sessler, Shook 6 VOTES: Blair, Cersosimo, Filice, Hall, Patra, Reuter 7 VOTES: Bergman, Carr, Frelund, Hanzus, Rank, Rosenthal, Zierlein
2. Chargers (28) 4 VOTES: Chadiha, Frelund, Hall, Rank 7 VOTES: Baldinger, Bergman, Goodbread, Jones-Drew, Rosenthal, Ross, Smith 2 VOTES: Filice, Trotter
3. Browns (27) 4 VOTES: Cersosimo, Filice, Rosenthal, Ross 5 VOTES: Frelund, Hanzus, Parr, Rank, Shook 5 VOTES: Bhanpuri, Blair, Chadiha, Hall, Sessler
4. Bengals (22) 4 VOTES: Baldinger, Carr, Goodbread, Jones-Drew 4 VOTES: Battista, Brandt, Chadiha, Zierlein 2 VOTES: Ross, Smith
5. Chiefs (17) 2 VOTES: Reuter, Smith 3 VOTES: Bhanpuri, Carr, Sessler 5 VOTES: Battista, Cersosimo, Jones-Drew, Parr, Patra
6. Raiders (15) 2 VOTES: Blair, Zierlein 3 VOTES: Grant, Thomas, Trotter 3 VOTES: Brandt, Goodbread, Shook
7. Steelers (7) 2 VOTES: Hanzus, Patra NO VOTES 1 VOTE: Baldinger
T-8. Bills (6) 2 VOTES: Bhanpuri, Trotter NO VOTES NO VOTES
T-8. Ravens (6) 2 VOTES: Bergman, Thomas NO VOTES NO VOTES
10. Colts (3) NO VOTES NO VOTES 3 VOTES: Grant, Reuter, Thomas

NFC EAST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
6-2 · (-1700)

UNANIMOUS PICK


Why Chase Goodbread chose the Cowboys: Despite the Week 9 hiccup against the Denver Broncos, there’s no reason to think this Cowboys offense won’t continue to roll. Even if it doesn’t, no one else in the NFC East looks poised to challenge them. Of the three teams that appear to be running away with their divisions -- the Packers, Titans and Cowboys -- Dallas is the most likely to follow through.


NFC NORTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
7-2 · (-1400)

UNANIMOUS PICK


Why Chad Reuter chose the Packers: Green Bay is coming off a tough loss and there's a "small possibility" the team may be without Aaron Rodgers for one more week. Nevertheless, the Packers should hold on to their significant division lead over the middling Bears and Vikings.


NFC SOUTH CHAMPS

Rank
1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6-2 · (-650)

(27 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Parr, Patra, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Smith, Trotter, Zierlein)


2.  New Orleans Saints (+500) | 1 vote: Thomas


Why Adam Rank chose the Buccaneers: The Bucs are in a similar spot as they were through eight games last season, standing at 6-2 and near the top of the conference, but they seem even better positioned for success this year. As NFC contenders crashed and burned around them in Week 9, Tampa emerged from the rubble unscathed. Like Vivica Fox in Independence Day, who avoided alien destruction by hiding in a janitor's closet underneath the 105 freeway in Los Angeles. 


NFC WEST CHAMPS

Rank
1
Arizona Cardinals
8-1 · (-230)

(15 votes: Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Frelund, Hanzus, Parr, Patra, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter)


2. Los Angeles Rams (+195) 13 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Brandt, Filice, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Jones-Drew, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Smith, Zierlein


Why Marc Ross chose the Cardinals: This is not the same old Cardinals, who this year have shown toughness to win in a variety of ways and under less than ideal circumstances. With Kyler Murray playing at an MVP level when healthy, and Vance Joseph transforming the defense into one of the league's best, the Cards are poised to win the division and possibly much more.

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 Saints (53) 1 VOTE: Reuter 24 VOTES: Baldinger, Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Parr, Patra, Rank, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Smith, Trotter, Zierlein 2 VOTES: Bergman, Hall
2 Rams (45) 15 VOTES: Battista, Bhanpuri, Blair, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Frelund, Hanzus, Parr, Patra, Ross, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter NO VOTES NO VOTES
3 Cardinals (38) 12 VOTES: Baldinger, Bergman, Brandt, Filice, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Jones-Drew, Rank, Rosenthal, Smith, Zierlein 1 VOTE: Reuter NO VOTES
4 Seahawks (14) NO VOTES 2 VOTES: Bergman, Hall 10 VOTES: Battista, Bhanpuri, Cersosimo, Filice, Frelund, Hanzus, Patra, Reuter, Ross, Trotter
5. Vikings (6) NO VOTES NO VOTES 6 VOTES: Baldinger, Blair, Jones-Drew, Rosenthal, Sessler, Shook
6. 49ers (5) NO VOTES NO VOTES 5 VOTES: Brandt, Chadiha, Parr, Smith, Zierlein
7. Falcons (4) NO VOTES NO VOTES 4 VOTES: Goodbread, Grant, Rank, Thomas
8. Buccaneers (2) NO VOTES 1 VOTE: Thomas NO VOTES
9. Panthers (1) NO VOTES NO VOTES 1 VOTE: Carr

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