2017 NFL midseason predictions: Who’ll snag AFC wild cards?

At the midpoint of the 2017 NFL season, our badysts refresh their predictions on the foremost particular person awards and forecast the whole playoff discipline. Check again Friday for Championship Sunday/Super Bowl LII outcomes.

AFC EAST

Judy Battista: New England Patriots. Edelman and Hightower are gone, however Belichick and Brady will determine it out.

Jeffri Chadiha: Patriots. Even a suspect protection will not hold Brady and Belichick from claiming one other division title.

Gil Brandt: Patriots. They’ve been shaky on protection however are getting higher — they usually nonetheless have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Plus, the Pats end with two straight in Foxborough.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Patriots. No one’s questioning this.

Steve Wyche: Patriots. Taking the Pats, though the Bills might make it fascinating.


Ike Taylor: Patriots. The division is shut proper now, however the Patriots will draw back.

Charley Cbaderly: Patriots. They are getting higher by the week.

Heath Evans: Patriots. Bill Belichick is the best thoughts within the sport. There’s no method the Pats do not win the division.

Adam Schein: Patriots. Obviously.

Reggie Wayne: Patriots. As lengthy as Belichick and Brady are concerned, this crew wins the East.

Alex Gelhar: Patriots. As lengthy as Tom Brady is below heart, that is his division.

Adam Rank: Patriots. The division appears to have gained floor on them … however the Patriots nonetheless look like they’re taking part in an extended con and can find yourself not solely successful the division, however taking the highest seed.

AFC NORTH

Judy Battista: Pittsburgh Steelers. Ignore the drama — that is by far the perfect, most balanced crew within the division. And it is perhaps the AFC’s finest.

Jeffri Chadiha: Steelers. After an inconsistent begin, they’ve hit their stride. They ought to run away with this division within the second half.

Gil Brandt: Steelers. They’re taking part in nice go protection and lead the division by two video games, with 5 of the ultimate seven contests on their schedule coming at dwelling. Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is a star within the making.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Steelers. The different groups within the division aren’t very aggressive.

Steve Wyche: Steelers. They’re good and the remainder of the division will not be. I really feel so unhealthy for Browns followers.

Ike Taylor: Steelers. Did you truly suppose I used to be going to choose anybody else?

Charley Cbaderly: Steelers. They’re taking part in higher protection than prior to now, in a division that doesn’t have one other playoff-worthy crew.


Heath Evans: Steelers. No one within the division can cease Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown.

Adam Schein: Steelers. Offense is loaded — lastly working with Le’Veon — and the protection is improved.

Reggie Wayne: Steelers. Pittsburgh struggled early, but nonetheless holds a wholesome division lead.

Alex Gelhar: Steelers. The Steelers safe the division on the method of feeding Le’Veon Bell and taking part in lights-out protection.

Adam Rank: Steelers. Look like the category of the division. The Ravens (my preseason choose) have method too many accidents. And the Bengals are doing Bengals issues. Ditto for the Browns.

AFC SOUTH

UPDATE: After the publishing of this piece, information broke that dynamic Houston rookie Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in observe Thursday. The Texans QB is out for the season.

Judy Battista: Jacksonville Jaguars. Yep, I am a believer. A tricky protection and a transcendent working again full the Jaguars’ turnaround.

Jeffri Chadiha: Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson is the actual deal. He may help this crew survive with out J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Gil Brandt: Tennessee Titans. The Titans, Texans and Jaguars might every plausibly come out on prime, however I am going to go along with Tennessee, provided that the Titans can count on to win three of their 4 remaining street video games (at Indianapolis, at Arizona and at San Francisco). They do should face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on a brief week, however additionally they get to play Houston and Jacksonville in Tennessee, they usually’ve already overwhelmed the Jaguars in Jacksonville, in order that they maintain the sting there.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Texans. Watson is main this crew on and off the sector. With the badistance of a wonderful protection, the previous Clemson star secures a playoff spot earlier than Week 17.


Steve Wyche: Titans. At some level, they are going to lastly put all of it collectively. The Jags and Texans will contest for the title, however …

Ike Taylor: Texans. They’ve gained the division the final two years with out regular QB play. Rookie Deshaun Watson solely makes them higher.

Charley Cbaderly: Texans. Deshaun Watson — with an excellent protection — would be the distinction.

Heath Evans: Texans. This crew’s changing into extra balanced with Watson below heart. Plus, this protection is a nightmare for any crew.

Adam Schein: Jaguars. Tough. Physical. Incredible D and run sport.

Reggie Wayne: Texans. They have a ton of expertise on each side of the ball and can hold bettering by Week 17.

Alex Gelhar: Texans. The offense, led by Deshaun Watson, carries the Texans into the postseason.

Adam Rank: Jaguars. My buddies down in Duval County, Florida, have a stifling protection. And a fairly good working again, too. It’s going to be a dogfight with Houston, however I really feel comfy saying the Jags are going to come back out of this on prime.

AFC WEST

Judy Battista: Kansas City Chiefs. A profession season from Alex Smith makes the Chiefs a severe title risk.

Jeffri Chadiha: Chiefs. If they will repair their defensive points and get wholesome, the Chiefs will probably be a tricky out within the postseason.

Gil Brandt: Chiefs. Alex Smith is taking part in at an MVP degree. The protection is common, however the working sport is superb.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Chiefs. Ya’ll thought I used to be loopy after I mentioned Andy Reid would outcoach Bill Belichick within the NFL opener. But I used to be proper. You can by no means rely out Reid’s crew.

Steve Wyche: Oakland Raiders. They appear to be gaining some traction, however they nonetheless should win extra division video games.


Ike Taylor: Chiefs. Alex Smith’s airing out the ball, Kareem Hunt is tearing it up and the protection is holding its personal.

Charley Cbaderly: Chiefs. Probably the perfect crew within the NFL.

Heath Evans: Chiefs. Andy Reid at all times places his crew in good place to make a run within the postseason.

Adam Schein: Chiefs. The Alex Smith rebirth is enjoyable! And the Chiefs are the perfect crew within the AFC.

Reggie Wayne: Chiefs. Ok.C. is without doubt one of the most balanced groups within the AFC.

Alex Gelhar: Chiefs. An early-season lead within the standings helps the Chiefs coast into the postseason on the again of their high-powered offense.

Adam Rank: Chiefs. This might find yourself being loads nearer, however they got a present by the Chargers not selecting the correct kicker out of coaching camp — and it’ll find yourself being the distinction.

AFC WILD CARD 1

Judy Battista: Denver Broncos. A superlative protection carries a mediocre offense. Sound acquainted?

Jeffri Chadiha: Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags’ protection is nasty sufficient to hold them to the postseason.

Gil Brandt: Jaguars. I feel two groups will come out of the AFC South, and I am going to go along with Jacksonville to hitch Tennessee.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Jaguars. They’re headed in the proper course below Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone.

Steve Wyche: Kansas City Chiefs. They’ll have cooled down, however they continue to be top-of-the-line groups within the AFC.

Ike Taylor: Oakland Raiders. This crew has an excessive amount of expertise to not make the playoffs.

Charley Cbaderly: Jaguars. Defense carries them to the playoffs.

Heath Evans: Miami Dolphins. I like the tradition Adam Gase has carried out in Miami. The Dolphins — irrespective of who’s beginning below heart — aren’t nice, however they’re ok to squeak in.

Adam Schein: Buffalo Bills. Finally! With an actual coach — and Tyrod and LeSean — the drought is over!

Reggie Wayne: Broncos. The offense does simply sufficient and the protection once more carries the crew.

Alex Gelhar: Bills. With many different contenders taking one another out, Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy finish the Bills’ playoff drought.

Adam Rank: Houston Texans. They lastly have a quarterback! That’s going to be important.

UPDATE: After the publishing of this piece, information broke that dynamic Houston rookie Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in observe Thursday. The Texans QB is out for the season.

AFC WILD CARD 2

Judy Battista: Buffalo Bills. Yep, I am a believer right here, too. Sean McDermott by no means pays for a drink in Western New York once more after delivering the primary postseason look of the millennium.

Jeffri Chadiha: Bills. The Bills have not been afraid to half with some mbadive names over the previous yr. They additionally look able to returning to the postseason for the primary time in 18 years.

Gil Brandt: Bills. The drought ends! Buffalo is simply common on each offense and protection, however the Bills are distinctive in a single key space: turnover differential, the place they have been plus-14 heading into Week 9. They management their very own future, with 4 video games remaining towards AFC East opponents (after Thursday’s showdown with the Jets), together with two towards New England.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Los Angeles Chargers. They obtained off to a sluggish begin, however they’re going to come on sturdy down the stretch.


Steve Wyche: Bills. Sean McDermott has this squad taking part in laborious, and the protection might be counted on.

Ike Taylor: Jacksonville Jaguars. They have a Super Bowl-caliber protection and — how’s the saying go? Defense wins championships? Hmmm …

Charley Cbaderly: Bills. Same as Jacksonville — the protection leads them into the playoffs.

Heath Evans: Jaguars. They’ve constructed a unbelievable protection that is set them up for achievement in years to come back.

Adam Schein: Houston Texans. So flawed. Yet, Watson is so particular.

UPDATE: After the publishing of this piece, information broke that dynamic Houston rookie Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in observe Thursday. The Texans QB is out for the season.

Reggie Wayne: Tennessee Titans. Marcus Mariota places the Titans within the postseason for the primary time since 2008.

Alex Gelhar: Jaguars. After efficiently hiding Blake Bortles for 16 video games, the “Sacksonville” Jaguars earn a visit to the postseason.

Adam Rank: Bills. I might have had the Chargers in right here had they pulled out the upset in New England, which I type of thought they might. Instead, I am going with the Bills.


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