The culmination of the 2016 NFL season actually happens in the next calendar year, where the New England Patriots seem like the Super Bowl favorites, at least on the AFC side of the playoffs, while on the NFC side of the bracket it seems that the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks all see themselves as legitimate contenders to the title.
The way I see it, the Patriots will beat the Cowboys if they face them in the Super Bowl, but will lose to the Packers, Seahawks and probably the Giants. The Cowboys will beat anyone in the NFC except for the Giants. Based on these rules, who do we see the playoffs unfolding? Check it out below:
Wild Card Games
Dolphins @ Steelers: Pittsburgh wins, whether it’s without Ryan Tannehill or with the quarterback in a semi-fit condition. The Steelers have won 7 in a row, and won’t drop this one at home.
Raiders @ Texans: The ugly game of the weekend. Brock Osweiler will play for the Texans in a game that might determine his future at the franchise. I don’t believe he’ll be bad enough to lose at home against a Raiders team with Matt McGloin at QB.
Lions @ Seahawks: The Lions have lost three in a row and the Seahawks have been playing bad football to close the season. Who wins? Seattle edge this one out.
Giants @ Packers: The big game of the weekend. Giants beat the Packers in Green Bay five years ago on their way to the Super Bowl. But I think the Giants offense is worse this year, and while their defense will give Aaron Rodgers problems, I don’t think Eli Manning, in his current form, can survive in Lambeau.
Steelers @ Chiefs: A very difficult one to call, but this game won’t be anything like the Chiefs visit to Heinz Field where they lost 43-14. Still, fully healthy I think the Steelers are the second-best team in the conference, and will prevail in the frosty Arrowhead.
Texans @ Patriots: This one is going to be a slaughter, which the Pats will win.
Seahawks @ Atlanta: As good as the Seahawks defense can be, I think the Falcons have something special going for them this year, and the inconsistencies of Russell Wilson and his offensive line will haunt them in the Georgia Dome, where they lost four years ago as well.
Packers @ Cowboys: A repeat from two years ago, only in Dallas this time, with a Cowboys offense that is efficient as they come. I don’t think the Packers defense has an answer for the Cowboys.
Conference Championship Games
Steelers @ Patriots: Hard seeing anyone dropping the Patriots in the AFC, but there’s something to be said about the Pats defense not seeing a good quarterback all season long except for Russell Wilson and losing to him. Despite their dominance, something feels imperfect, especially defensively about this Patriots team. I’ll go out on a limb here and say Pittsburgh stun them in Gillette.
Falcons @ Cowboys: Dallas win this one because as explosive as the Falcons offense can be, Dallas can get stops, and their offense is a lot more difficult to stop when they need to get their points.
Steelers vs Cowboys: In the regular season, this encounter gave us one of the best finishes we’ve seen in quite a few years. If this classic rivalry is renewed in the Super Bowl, I feel like the Cowboys make it out somehow with their hands on the trophy for the first time in 21 years.