Playoffs Props – Yes/No12 Weeks of 2019 NFL Futures Predictions
Eight weeks down and now just a month to go before that Hall of Fame game kicks off, and after the past month has been dedicated to individual pieces and futures like most passing yards, rookie of the year awards, and other yardage leader props, it's back to the big picture perspective now with time before the season starting dwindling away.
The first third of these weekly features dealt with individual win totals for a handful of teams, so with that already covered, this piece is about who will end up being involved in January's playoff action. Every year in the NFL, there are at least a few teams that make the playoffs that didn't the year prior, and while it's easy to assume (and correctly I may add), that the teams that did get featured in those win total pieces would have correlating plays on the Yes/No playoff prop, but they won't be the teams I'm discussing today.
Yet, the message defensively will be just as stern this time around, as they can't go around giving up easy yards and points like they did and expect to win too many games. But if we can use last year as any indication, we should expect the Riders defense to step up from here on out, because last season's visit to Ottawa in Week 2 was the only time all year Saskatchewan allowed more then 34 points against. Welcoming a Toronto team that looked awful last week for the home opener is a great situation for this Riders defense to get back on track, and it's hard to believe that they won't be able to to some degree.
For those that are wondering, we'd have Baltimore (+175), Chicago (-140), and San Francisco (+200) as those 'over' season win total plays as teams to be in the “YES” side of making the post season, while Indianapolis (+200) and Atlanta (-180) on the “NO” side of that equation.
So with NFL football action just a month away, let's continue to project forward and take a stab at some “Will they make the playoffs” betting selections.
NFL Teams to Make the Playoffs: YES
Jacksonville Jaguars (+260)
Dallas Cowboys (+100)
Starting with the Jags, 2019 should be a season of redemption for this team who is out to prove that their 2018 campaign was the anomaly, not their 2017 year where they were a win away from the Super Bowl. Jacksonville went out and got the Super Bowl MVP from that 2017 season – who they would have faced had they won that AFC Championship two years ago – in Nick Foles to be the man that leads this offense for them in 2019.
Foles may be a guy that's just recently hit his full potential, as career long numbers don't suggest he's an elite QB in this league, but he's played like one when called upon in Philly the past two seasons, and some guys just bloom later than others. Getting a QB that they can trust, and who's accurate with the ball and strong in his decision-making was the #1 priority for Jacksonville this year, and even if Foles falls somewhere between his performances in his early Philly and Rams days and his Super Bowl MVP playoff run, that's still a huge upgrade over Blake Bortles for the Jags.
Jacksonville is still built to win with defense and their running game, so it's not like Foles has to come and be the savior, he's just got to be better then what a below average Bortles brought the Jags. He's got capable weapons around him in the passing game, and if that 2017 Jacksonville defense returns this year, a “game-manager” style of QB could have this team winning the AFC South again with double digit wins.
The South really is a division that's up for grabs in 2019 in my opinion, and to have these kind of odds on this Jacksonville team who was there just 24 months ago is something I don't believe you can pass up. It's not like a Wildcard spot is out of the question either if Jacksonville ends up with a 9-7 SU record or something, as the rest of the AFC is pretty top heavy in that it's a conference full of 'haves' and 'have nots' again. Jacksonville's in a great spot to be in the former category here in 2019.
Regarding the Cowboys, the NFC East is another division where it's likely a two-team race between the Cowboys and Eagles, and at plus-money the Cowboys appear to be the play. Washington and New York are dealing with transitional years within their respective organizations, and Philly, well more on them in a bit.
Dallas is built in a similar fashion to Jacksonville in that running the ball and playing sound defense are the cornerstones of any success they find, and as the defending division champs in the NFC East, Dallas comes into 2019 loaded with confidence in terms or repeating. They've got a full year of WR Amari Cooper this season which is great from the outset, and added Randall Cobb on the outside as well.
As long as Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and the rest of that O-line can stay healthy this year, another division crown should be firmly in their sights, and it starts with taking care of business in their two games with the Eagles.
NFL Teams to Make Playoffs: NO
Philadelphia Eagles (+160)
Speaking of those Eagles, they went out and made the “right” choice in letting Foles go and extending Carson Wentz as their QB of the present and future, but had the two QB's been the same age, I'm not sure the word “right” would apply.
Eagles fans have unquestionable love for Wentz, but he's a guy that's already proved to be somewhat injury prone in his young career, and when you really boil it down, he's had what, 16 games of upper echelon QB play in this league. His 2017 campaign was a phenomenal one before it got cut short by injury, and there is always going to be the caveat that 2018 was not going to be nearly as good because it does take time to come back from an injury like the one Wentz had.
However, I'm not a big believer in Wentz as most are, as it's really only been about a 16-game sample size of him being worth what he got paid this spring, and it's not like we haven't seen QB's in the NFC East have a great first year or two in the league before flaming out in a big way; RG III anyone.
Wentz is a totally different signal caller then RG III and is definitely better, but I think we've got to hold off on anointing this guy as the next face of the league type guy at this position for a variety of reasons. His health is obviously one, as a repaired knee and back at just 26 years old is concerning, and with more film on him with each passing year, opposing coordinators can continue to come up with better ways to slow him down ala what happened to RG III after his first couple of years in Washington.
Wentz still has the prototypical QB build to be a successful pocket passer in this league – something RG III does not – but the Eagles caught lightning in a bottle in 2017 from start to finish, and quite frankly they've been overrated ever since. To me they are decidedly the 2nd best team in this division, in 2019, and this is a year where we probably only see the division champion from the NFC East make it to January.
Finishing the season with four straight divisional games – vs NYG, @ Washington, vs Dallas, @ NYG – could end up being a blessing or a curse for the Eagles playoff hopes, and I figure it's more likely to be the latter. By then, the Giants and Redskins would love to play the spoiler role if they are already out of things as expected, and if they aren't well then it's more tough games late that Philly's got to deal with.
There is no safety net behind Wentz anymore with Foles now gone should he get hurt again, and they've just got the look of a team that needs everything to go right for them, every single week out there, just to get to 10 wins. At plus-money odds to bet against that happening, it's easy to make this play.
NFL Win Total Predictions
1) Baltimore Ravens
2) Indianapolis Colts
3) Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers
4) Atlanta Falcons
5) NFL ROY
6) Passing Yards
7) Receiving Yards
8) Rushing Yards