The Zone Read: Midseason playoff predictions

As week eight approaches, I’ve taken a step back and done my best to assess the state of the league. There’s a lot of parity and unanswered questions which will make for an exciting second half of the season.

AFC Playoffs

  1. Patriots

The Patriots, like always, feel like a lock for the playoffs and a 12-win season. I expect them to ride their obscenely easy division and schedule to the No. 1 seed, and fan egos will remain as huge as they have been for the past 20 years.

  1. Colts

Indy looks legit. They have a balanced roster, and Jacoby Brissett’s ceiling is high with this reconstructed offensive line. If this team can stay healthy, they have one of the best coaches in the league to lead them on a deep playoff run.

  1. Chiefs

Losing Patrick Mahomes for a few weeks will sink this team’s record, but this roster and coach are good enough to tread water until he returns. The defense also looks better for what it’s worth.

  1. Ravens

Lamar Jackson is special to watch, and I expect that to translate to an AFC North title. There are some inconsistencies in some spots on the roster, especially the defense, but Jackson’s second-year ascension alone is enough to put this team among the heavyweights.

  1. Texans

We know the Texans can string things together, but they can’t get out of their own way right now. Talent-wise, I can’t see this team missing the playoffs.

  1. Bills

The Bills have a great defense, and the ceiling is there for their offense. If Josh Allen can cut down on his interceptions, this team can make noise.

Teams that could make a run, from best to worst chances: Browns, Chargers, Jaguars, Titans.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Saints

The Saints have gotten better and better with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, and they’re about to get the legendary Drew Brees back from injury. Yeah, I think this could be a Super Bowl-caliber roster.

  1. 49ers

The 49ers look incredible with that defense, and their offense is about to get some key pieces back from injury, not to mention their shiny new toy in wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. They won’t stay undefeated forever, but this 6–0 start is definitely something special.

  1. Packers

The NFC is a conference of defenses, and the exceptional Packers unit is no exception. And we all know what Rodgers can do once he gets to the playoffs.

  1. Cowboys

The Cowboys may have righted the ship a bit with that dominant win over Philly. My team has been messing with my heart the past couple of weeks, but I am optimistic they’ve turned a corner in this weak division. Two more games against the Giants and Redskins should help matters too.

  1. Rams

This team may be more defensively-focused than offensively this time around, especially with the arrival of Jalen Ramsey. I expect them to string together some wins after the rough September and October.

  1. Vikings

The Vikings finally seem balanced on offense, rightfully putting their expensive wideouts to good use. Dalvin Cook is still a transcendent talent at running back, and that defense can smother a lot of teams.

Teams that could make a run, from best to worst chances: Seahawks, Panthers, Eagles, Lions.