The Coin Toss: NFL playoffs?

Welcome to The Coin Toss, where I make some bold, unlikely predictions about your favorite professional sports. First, let’s recap last week’s NFL games.

It had to happen at some point. Last week, I noted that I had always gotten at least one prediction correct. It seems that I jinxed myself, as all three of my calls came up short. The Giants lost to the Steelers, the 49ers lost to the Bears (thanks for nothing, Kaepernick) and the Cowboys totalled far fewer than 500 yards. Oh well, on to the next week!

This will be my last column of the semester, so I’m going to make some NFL playoff picks that we can all check up on later. Exciting, isn’t it? Let’s find out who’s getting into the postseason and who’s out…

Denver Broncos (8-4): OUT

The defending Super Bowl champions are having a solid season so far. Sadly, according to this prediction, it won’t be enough. Despite their record, the Broncos are third in the AFC West, behind the Chiefs (9-3) and the Raiders (10-2). Denver will have to face both of those teams as well as the Titans (6-6) and the Patriots (10-2) in its final four games. Their remaining schedule is very difficult, as all four teams are .500 or above, and three of them are 9-3 or better. I can see the Broncos winning one, maybe two, of those four games. Either way, they don’t have an easy path to the playoffs. The Steelers (7-5) and the Dolphins (7-5) are both primed to grab Denver’s wild card spot. Hence, I have the Broncos missing the playoffs just a season after winning the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5): IN

Speaking of the Steelers, I have them making the playoffs. They’re tied for first in the AFC North with the Ravens, but they lose to Baltimore in tiebreakers. Pittsburgh sits a game behind Denver for the second wild card slot. If the Steelers don’t win their division outright, they’ll have to own a better record than the Broncos to make the playoffs. Like I said before, Denver has an extremely tough schedule to finish the season. Pittsburgh will face the Bills, Bengals, Ravens and Browns. The current combined record of those four teams is 17-30-1. Of those teams, only the Ravens are over .500, so the Steelers should have a much easier road to (at least) a wild card spot than the Broncos.

Washington Redskins (6-5-1): IN

The Redskins shocked the football world last year when they won the NFC East. Their division is infinitely tougher now, but they’ve already played Dallas twice. Looking forward, the Redskins will face the Eagles and Bears on the road and the Panthers and Giants at home. Each of those games is very winnable; their toughest test might be the Giants in Week 17, but they might not even have to win that game to clinch a wild card spot. The Redskins are an underdog for sure, as no one expected them to make the playoffs last year and not too many expect them to do it again. However, I’m picking them to make the cut this season. As Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins might ask, “YOU LIKE THAT?!”