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NFL playoff predictions 2018: Picking the entire AFC and NFC field

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Prediction time! We pick the 2018 NFL playoff field, from Wild Card weekend to the Super Bowl. Check out the system we use, the upsets we pick and our predictions for the 2018 NFL playoffs below. Our pick for the Super Bowl this year is the Chiefs vs. the Rams!

Madden simulation: Titans at Chiefs (Wild Card Round)

Madden hasn't been right all year, why start now!? ‍♂️ (sound on for commentary, fast-forward to the end for stats)

Posted by Arrowhead Pride: For Kansas City Chiefs Fans on Friday, January 5, 2018

I made playoff picks last year and you can see them here. I actually got all of the first round correct last year, which was pretty cool.

Anyways, let’s do it again this year and see if we can’t get it all right. (Fat chance, not gonna happen!)

The Key Stat We’ll Use

I’m going to use SRS, OSRS, and DSRS primarily for the predictions used in this article. If you are curious about this stat you can read more about it here.

SRS stands for Simple Rating System and it evaluates teams based on their strength of schedule and point differential. OSRS and DSRS are the offensive and defensive components that are used to create the total SRS value.

Below is a list of the NFL’s 2017 playoff teams and their OSRS, DSRS, and SRS ratings. They are sorted by SRS (which is a total of OSRS and DSRS)

2017 NFL Playoff Team SRS Values

Team OSRS DSRS SRS
Team OSRS DSRS SRS
Eagles 7 2.5 9.4
Rams 8.2 1 9.2
Saints 7 2.2 9.2
Vikings 2.3 6.8 9.1
Patriots 6.3 2.6 8.9
Jaguars 3 3.6 6.5
Steelers 3.2 1.8 5
Falcons 1.1 3.2 4.3
Panthers 1.7 2.7 4.3
Chiefs 3.8 -0.3 3.5
Titans -2 -1.5 -3.5
Bills -3 -1 -4

How We’ll Make Decisions

Using the OSRS, DSRS, and SRS ratings and each playoff matchup since the 2002 post season, I was able to come up with a few stats that will help guide my predictions.

Since 2002, 64 percent of playoff teams with the better SRS win the game.

Every year there are 11 playoff games. This means on average there are four SRS upsets, and seven SRS favorite victories.

Later when I make the predictions I will use the four upset games as the guideline for my predictions.

I will also use some factors like home/away, injuries, OSRS/DSRS, other historical factors, etc to help guide my decisions. Some important factors to note are the following:

  • 63 percent of playoff teams with the better OSRS win
  • 56 percent of playoff teams with the better DSRS win
  • Since the merger, 68 percent of home playoff teams win

Without further conversation, let’s take a look at the picks.

Wild Card

Please note the numbers in parentheses are the total SRS ratings for each team.

AFC

Titans (-3.5) @ Chiefs (3.5)
Winner: Chiefs

Note: 75 percent of home playoff teams with better OSRS and DSRS scores win. The Chiefs fall under that category.

Bills (-4) @ Jaguars (6.5)
Winner: Jaguars

NFC

Falcons (4.3) @ Rams (9.2)
Winner: Rams

Panthers (4.3) @ Saints (9.2)
Winner: Saints

No upsets in the first round!

Divisional Round

AFC

Chiefs (3.5) @ Patriots (8.9)
Winner: Chiefs

I like the Chiefs in this game because of their prior success against New England. I also like the Chiefs chances because I believe their SRS score is skewed by a bad stretch that doesn’t show where the Chiefs are at this moment. Belichick always takes one guy away on defense, but what will the Patriots do when they need to take three guys (Kelce, Hill, and Hunt) away?

Jaguars (6.5) @ Steelers (5.0)
Winner: Steelers

I really wanted to take the Jaguars, but I can’t bring myself to believe Bortles will go into freezing cold Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers in the playoffs. This is the second upset.

NFC

Saints (9.2) @ Eagles (9.4)
Winner: Saints

This is the third upset, and it’s understandable with Carson Wentz being injured.

Rams (9.2) @ Vikings (9.1)
Winner: Rams

I like the Rams here because they have both the better SRS and a significantly better OSRS.

Championship Round

AFC

Chiefs (3.5) @ Steelers (5.0)
Winner: Chiefs

This is the fourth upset ... Sure, maybe my homerism is coming out. I mean, this is a Chiefs blog after all. I believe the Chiefs are more prepared for this Steelers matchup than any year prior and the Chiefs will shock the NFL world by beating two giants to get to the Super Bowl.

NFC

Saints (9.2) @ Rams (9.2)
Winner: Rams

The Rams are the home team and have the better OSRS score, so I’m going with the Rams here.

Super Bowl

Chiefs (3.5) vs Rams (9.2)
Winner: Rams

I ran out of upsets and the Rams win their second Super Bowl in the past 20 years. This pick kind of irks me because I’m not a big fan of the Rams’ ownership and how they handled the move from St. Louis. Of course if anything couldn’t be truer nowadays it’s that life isn’t fair.

When I started writing this I had absolutely no clue what team I would pick to win the whole thing. I knew I would have the Chiefs make it further than they probably should, but I’m writing for a Chiefs blog so of course I’m going to favor the Chiefs. My readers should expect as much!

This is a crazy, crazy year for the postseason. There are a lot of capable teams and some of the old guard is beginning to accumulate rust. Let’s see how you feel the postseason will play out in the comments section!