Some injuries just mean more than others, and this week, the NFL might have been dealt a major injury that will send ripples throughout the league. The reports surrounding Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen suggest that an absence could be coming. The question right now is how long. The answer will have massive implications on how the playoffs shake out.
With Allen possibly out, the early benefactors are the Miami Dolphins, who for the first time in these picks have taken over first place in the AFC East. The Kansas City Chiefs also benefit, as a drop from the Bills will allow the Chiefs to secure the one seed in the AFC and get that Wild Card Round bye week, something the Chiefs have not had in these playoff picks lately.
Note: These are not power rankings. These are not picks based off any analytical data or insider knowledge. These are picks based off what I have seen during the season so far. I could be wrong, just like I could be right. Either way, I will be back again next week to offer an updated projection to cover any of my past mistakes.
Check out the projections from weeks past here
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8
1 Seed: Kansas City Chiefs 13-4 AFC West Winner
The Chiefs are now the most unstoppable-looking team in the NFL with the (potentially temporary) hobbling of the Bills. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes runs like Jack Sparrow but with more purpose. It’s incredible watching his legs and body move in all sorts of different directions, yet somewhere the only direction he goes in is forward.
2 Seed: Tennessee Titans 12-5 AFC South Winner
When your team has to start a rookie backup QB because your starter is injured and the team looks the exact same, it’s time to wonder if you have a QB problem. The Titans should have been wondering about that last year.
3 Seed: Baltimore Ravens 12-5 NFC North Winner
The Ravens took advantage of a Saints team that is playing like the going nowhere team they are. The Ravens are looking more and more locked in on offense and this division is still theirs to lose.
4 Seed: Miami Dolphins 11-6 AFC East Winner
With Allen out, the Dolphins have a great chance to storm ahead of Buffalo and take home their first division title since the great Chad Pennington was under center. A division title also made possible by a division rival losing a transcendent quarterback.
5 Seed: Buffalo Bills 11-6
With any backup quarterback, there is one goal: get a split. This is assuming the talent around backup Case Keenum is good enough, and Keenum capable enough, to go 5-4 the rest of the way. But no one can replace Allen, and if he is out for a prolonged period of time, the Bills offense will regress. The defense is still good though.
6 Seed: New England Patriots 10-7
The AFC East fun doesn’t stop here. The Pats have a schedule they can take advantage of down the stretch, and one more possible win to bank on when the Josh Allen-less Bills come to Foxborough in a few weeks.
7 Seed: New York Jets 10-7
The AFC East get all four team in the playoffs this week. And the Jets are somehow looking better than they have any right to because that’s just how good Robert Saleh has been for that team.
1 Seed: Philadelphia Eagles 14-3 NFC East Winner
With the Phillies out, the hopes and dreams of an entire city now fall on the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Sixers are warming up in the bullpen, ready to disappoint their city when it becomes their turn again.
2 Seed: Minnesota Vikings 14-3 NFC North Winner
The Vikings have one win over an opponent above .500, and that was against a Dolphins team that was missing their quarterback. It is gut check time for the Vikings as their next 4 games (at Bills, vs Cowboys, vs Patriots and vs Jets) are all against above .500 teams.
3 Seed: San Francisco 49ers 11-6 NFC West Winner
The defense is getting healthier, as is the offense. Coming out of the bye week, the table could not be better set for the 49ers to make a serious run the rest of this season.
4 Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-7 NFC South Winner
Tom Brady has the best group of terrible wide receivers I have ever seen. How has this man not lost his mind over all the balls bouncing how his pass catchers chests.
5 Seed: Dallas Cowboys 13-4
We are all eagerly awaiting the Cowboys Christmas Eve rematch with the Eagles, and there is not much standing in Dallas’ way that could derail the chances of that game having serious divisional stakes.
6 Seed: New York Giants 12-5
This might be a bit of a high ranking for the G-Men but playing a soft schedule down the stretch certainly helps.
7 Seed: Seattle Seahawks 11-6
This may be the best coaching job Pete Carroll has ever done. The Seahawks are very much legit and should be taken seriously and are very close to skyrocketing up these projections.
(4) Dolphins over (5) Bills
The Bills could not win in Miami with Allen, and they sure as hell won’t be able to win with Keenum against a Fins team that is much better than when the season started.
(3) Ravens over (6) Patriots
The Lamar Jackson Stunts on Bill Belichick game we all wanted.
(2) Titans over (7) Jets
Picking the Jets to make the playoffs is crazy enough. I am not so lost in the head to immediately make the jump to picking them to win a playoff game too.
(7) Seahawks over (2) Vikings
The Geno Smith revenge tour hits unimaginable heights with a triumph over Kirk Cousins, which will them immediately take the shine off the win.
(3) 49ers over (6) Giants
Nick Bosa’s quads > Saquan Barkleys quads.
(5) Cowboys over (4) Bucs
The Bucs barely sneak in as winners of the NFLs worst division only to get routed at home by the Cowboys. Definitely worth coming back for if you are Tom Brady.
(1) Chiefs over (5) Dolphins
The Dolphins took a massive step forward this year and should be proud that they go this far after taking advantage of the Bills unfortunate injury to their quarterback. How is that for a backhanded compliment.
(3) Ravens over (2) Titans
The Ravens are doomed if they run into a team with a quarterback really good at throwing the ball. Ryan Tannehill is kind of the opposite of that.
(1) Eagles over (7) Seahawks
Remember that hitch hiking robot that was travelling the country before getting destroyed in Philadelphia because of course that is what would happen? I imagine a similar fate with the Seahawks against the Eagles here.
(3) 49ers over (5) Cowboys
The 49ers find a way to overpower the Cowboys on both sides of the ball, barely. The best game of the divisional round comes down to the final drive in a game we will talk about forever.
(1) Chiefs over (3) Ravens
What the Ravens got going against Ryan Tannehill is the exact opposite of what they will get in Mahomes. That will not go well for the Ravens.
(1) Eagles over (3) 49ers
The 49ers struggle against quarterbacks that can run. Jalen Hurts is a quarterback that can run.
(1) Chiefs over (1) Eagles
Win or lose, I’m not sure either city’s infrastructure will be able to handle the fallout.