2020 NFL Playoff Predictions: Our 3 Favorite Picks
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Lock
Which teams do our analysts like to make the expanded playoff picture? Which teams are they low on?
Find three of our staff’s favorite picks to make or miss the 2020 NFL playoffs below.
2020 NFL Playoff Predictions & Picks
Click the pick to skip ahead to that analysis.
New to betting? The Browns’ -130 odds to miss the playoffs mean you would have to bet $13 to win $10. Convert more odds with our Betting Odds Calculator.
Sean Koerner: Broncos to Make Playoffs (+180)
There are a wide range of possible outcomes for the Broncos in 2020 as their success depends on how much Drew Lock progresses. He had an up and down rookie season, but overall it was encouraging: Out of 47 rookie quarterbacks to attempt at least 150 passes since 2010, Lock’s 89.7 Total QBR ranks 10th — his 6.2 adjusted net yards per attempt also ranked 10th.
The Broncos signed Melvin Gordon in free agency then drafted three pass-catchers — first-round WR Jerry Jeudy, second-round WR K.J. Hamler and fourth-round TE Albert Okweugbunam — so Lock now has the weapons needed to succeed.
My projections are right in line with their 7.5-win total, but given their wide range of potential outcomes, there’s some value in them making the playoffs at +180 odds.
The expansion to seven teams per conference will benefit a team like Denver, which shares the same division as a powerhouse like Kansas City. I have the Broncos graded as the second-best team in the AFC West and think this is the best way to invest in their upside.
Stuckey: Lions to Make Playoffs (+245)
The Lions flashed last season before Matthew Stafford was forced to miss their final eight games. Remember that they could have easily started 5-0 — including a win over Kansas City — if not for some horrid officiating and a few flukey bounces that didn’t go their way.
Well, now Stafford is back and has plenty of weapons on an offense that should put up points.
The defense needs to get better, but head coach Matt Patricia brought in some former Patriots who fit his scheme and could improve a locker room that was rumored to have all kinds of issues. No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah projects to be a solid lockdown corner in Patricia’s Cover 1-heavy scheme sooner than later.
The defensive play-calling does need to be creative, but this unit has potential to at least improve from 2019.
I really don’t hate any of the Lions’ futures. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to take a shot on them to win the Super Bowl and/or their division, I wouldn’t stop you.
The NFC North is wide open: Chicago still has major questions at quarterback. Minnesota lost star playmaker Stefon Diggs and must deal with plenty of turnover on defense. And Green Bay didn’t do much to address its primary weaknesses this offseason. It wouldn’t shock me to see any of these four teams win the division, so give me the one with the longest odds that could also sneak into a wild-card spot — especially with the new 14-team format.
Travis Reed: Browns To Miss Playoffs (-130)
This pick aligns with my Browns under 8.5 wins bet, and I have no qualms about doubling down against Cleveland this season: My model’s simulations have them making the playoffs only 24.9% of the time.
Every team in the AFC North improved over the offseason, making the divisional schedule tough for Cleveland. The Browns have a lot of big names in fantasy football, but they are well behind the elite teams in the conference and haven’t really separated themselves from teams like Denver or Houston, which are in the same range of fighting for a wild-card spot.
A coaching change was clearly needed, but I don’t think Kevin Stefanski’s addition will solve all of the Browns’ problems and get them back to the playoffs.