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Sports

Observer Roundtable: Future Playoff and Championship picks

, , , and | Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Well, here we are: the last Observer Roundtable picks for college and pro football. But don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened. And smile even wider because we’re doing special “future picks.” For college football we have the Power 5 Conference Championships (1 point for each correctly picked participant, plus 1 for picking the champion) and the College Football Playoff  (2 points for each Playoff Pick, 3 points for semis winners, 5 points for Natty). For the NFL we have picks for the playoffs (2 points per correct team, 4 if correct seed), conference championships and Super Bowl.

 

Leaderboard

Patrick Gallagher  – 98 points (7)

Liam Coolican – 80 points (7)

Nate Moller – 75 points (9)

Aidan Thomas – 68 points (6) 

Dominic Gibson – 66 points (6) 

 

Aidan Thomas

ACC: Clemson def. Notre Dame

Big Ten: Ohio State def. Northwestern

SEC: Alabama def. Florida

Pac-12: USC def. Oregon

Big 12: Oklahoma State def. Iowa State

For the College Football playoff, I’m going with a field of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame. I believe the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes will be unbeaten, while Clemson will have edged out Notre Dame in the ACC Championship, splitting the season series between the two teams and vaulting both squads to the playoff. 

In a rematch of last year’s semifinal, we have Ohio State vs. Clemson, and I think the Buckeyes get that elusive win versus Clemson, as the Tigers’ defense is not on par with some of the great defenses we’ve seen, so Justin Fields gets his revenge. In the No. 1 vs. No. 4 matchup, I’m sticking with my preseason national championship and picking Alabama over Notre Dame. I think this one will be brutally close, but I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by the Irish, rather than expect greatness, despite the recent big win. 

Finally, for the national championship, I’m rolling with the Tide. Since taking over as coach, Nick Saban has won a national championship with every player he recruited to the Tide (so long as they stayed at Alabama), and that streak continues as they snap a two-year ‘drought’ by toppling the Buckeyes in the national championship.

AFC

  1. Chiefs
  2. Ravens
  3. Dolphins
  4. Colts
  5. Steelers
  6. Titans
  7. Bills

NFC

  1. Cardinals
  2. Packers
  3. Buccaneers
  4. Eagles
  5. Saints
  6. Rams
  7. Seahawks

In the AFC, I’m going to ride with one expected team and one surprise for my championship game picks, as I’ll go with the Kansas City Chiefs to make their third-straight AFC title contest by notching the top seed and taking down the Titans in their first playoff game. Meanwhile, the Colts will eke out the division over the Titans, take down the Steelers and Ravens en route to an unlikely championship appearance, where they will be subsequently blown out of the water by Mahomes and Co. 

In the NFC, I’m going with another decent surprise, picking a pair of my wildcard teams to make it to the title game. I have the Seahawks slipping towards the second half of the season and ceding the division to the Cardinals. Seattle will ultimately lean on their offense to take down the Packers and Cards. Meanwhile, the Rams will ride an elite defense past Tom Brady and the Bucs in the first round, following that up with an upset of Drew Brees and the always-choking Saints. Finally, the Seahawks complete their run from the seventh-seed to match up with the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. 

There, Seattle wins a clash in which the first team to 60 wins, as Mahomes and Wilson trade heavyweight blows, before the Seahawks finally take the title.  

 

Patrick Gallagher

ACC: Clemson def. Notre Dame 

Big Ten: Ohio State def. Wisconsin 

SEC: Alabama def. Florida

Pac-12: USC def. Oregon 

Big 12: Texas def. Oklahoma State 

In the College Football Playoff, the No. 1 vs. No. 4 matchup, an undefeated Alabama team is going to be shockingly upset by Notre Dame after the Irish’s running backs take over the game. Notre Dame’s rushing defense is the best in the country, which was confirmed when Clemson running back Travis Etienne was held to a mere 28 yards Saturday, and I believe that they will neutralize Bama running back Najee Harris, which will be the key to victory. In the No. 2 vs. No. 3 game, Clemson will take care of business against Ohio State, whose defense has shown a lot of weaknesses, with Trevor Lawrence cementing his case for the Heisman. The final will feature a historic third rematch between the Tigers and Irish, and I will give the Irish the edge as I expect quarterback Ian Book to rise to the occasion. Book will throw for over 400 yards for the first time this season, making his own mark on Notre Dame history.

AFC

  1. Steelers 
  2. Chiefs 
  3. Titans
  4. Bills
  5. Ravens 
  6. Raiders
  7. Dolphins

NFC

  1. Seahawks
  2. Saints 
  3. Packers
  4. Eagles 
  5. Cardinals
  6. Buccaneers 
  7. Rams 

In the AFC, the Chiefs will defeat the Steelers as Patrick Mahomes outplays an aging Big Ben in a high-scoring affair. The Steelers defense is elite, but they have not played an offense quite as explosive as Kansas City’s, which will prove to be the difference. In the NFC, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals will mount an impressive playoff run beating Seattle for the second time before falling to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers currently leads the league in QBR and his consistency will take his team to the Super Bowl.

The matchup between Mahomes and Rodgers will prove to be one of the greatest QB battles in Super Bowl history. I believe that both future hall of famers will have a great performance, but Kansas City’s roster is just more talented from top to bottom. Expect Andy Reid and company to successfully defend their 2019 title and truly establish a new dynasty in the NFL.

 

Liam Coolican

ACC: Clemson def. Notre Dame 

Big Ten: Ohio State def. Purdue 

SEC: Florida def. Alabama 

Pac-12: USC def. Cal

Big 12: Oklahoma State def. Iowa State

It seems only fitting for 2020 to end in chaos. An undefeated Ohio State should slot in the top spot, but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. If Florida beats Alabama in the SEC championship game, that would likely put Florida at the No. 2 seed and Alabama at No. 4. That would leave Clemson or Notre Dame as the odd team out, as I project Clemson to win the ACC championship, they’ll be No. 3. However, it will be tough for the committee to leave out Notre Dame, who is undefeated until the ACC championship game, and what I believe to be a one-loss Big 12 champion in Oklahoma State. I’ll take Ohio State and Justin Fields to defeat Alabama in the first round, and Florida to defeat Clemson in the other semifinal. In the championship game, it will be an epic duel between two elite offenses, but Ohio State’s superior defense will allow them to capture the title. 

AFC:

  1. Chiefs  
  2. Titans 
  3. Steelers
  4. Bills 
  5. Ravens
  6. Dolphins
  7. Raiders

NFC

  1. Packers
  2. Saints
  3. Seahawks
  4. Eagles
  5. Buccaneers 
  6. Cardinals 
  7. Bears 

The NFC Championship will be a thrilling battle between the Saints and the Packers. Two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history going head-to-head, and both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees will put up huge numbers in what should be a high scoring, must-watch game. However, the Saints defense will avenge their previous playoff missteps and go to the Super Bowl in Brees’ final season. The AFC championship might well be a rematch of last year’s game between the Chiefs and the Titans. The Titans will once again put up a valiant fight, but Mahomes will make some big plays in the fourth quarter as he so often does to lead the Chiefs to their second-straight Super Bowl appearance. 

Old guard vs. new guard. Brees vs. Mahomes. If this matchup comes to fruition, it could be one of the most exciting Super Bowls in recent memory. These two squads are evenly matched, and it will probably come down to which quarterback plays better. The Saints’ balanced offensive attack will be too much for the Chiefs defense to handle, however, and Drew Brees retires on top as Super Bowl MVP.

 

Nate Moller

ACC: Clemson def. Notre Dame

Big Ten: Ohio St. def Wisconsin  

SEC: Alabama def. Florida

Pac-12: Oregon def. USC

Big 12: Iowa St. def. Oklahoma

For the College Football Playoff, I am taking Alabama as the No. 1 seed because I don’t see them losing a game this year. Ohio State will also go undefeated and lock into the number two seed. After Clemson avenges their loss to Notre Dame, they will earn the No. 3 seed. Despite Notre Dame losing in the ACC championship game, they will keep that game close and earn the four seed as a result. The Bama-ND game will be very competitive, but at the end of the day quarterback Mac Jones and the Tide are just too much for the Irish. In the Clemson-Ohio State rematch of last year’s playoff, I like Trevor Lawrence to lead the Tigers to another championship matchup against the Tide. In the title game, it will be back and forth all game, but Nick Saban ultimately outcoaches Dabo Swinney and the Tigers, and the Tide will lift up the trophy to end the season.

AFC

  1. Steelers
  2. Chiefs
  3. Titans
  4. Bills
  5. Ravens
  6. Raiders
  7. Colts

NFC

  1. Seahawks
  2. Packers
  3. Saints
  4. Eagles
  5. Buccaneers
  6. Cardinals
  7. Rams

In the AFC, I am going to take the Chiefs over the Bills in the conference title game. While the Steelers finish the regular season strong, they choke in the NFC Divisional round to the Bills. Although the Bills put up a good fight against Mahomes in the title game, the Chiefs are just too deep of a team. In the NFC, I’m taking the Seahawks over the Buccaneers. In a matchup between two great quarterbacks, Russell Wilson outduels Tom Brady to make it to the Super Bowl.

In the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and Seahawks, there will be stellar offense by both teams. Mahomes plays well all game, but he throws a crucial interception late in the game. This leads to a Russell Wilson connection with wide receiver Tyler Lockett with less than two minutes left that gives Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll their second Super Bowl ring.

 

Dominic Gibson

ACC: Clemson def. Notre Dame

Big Ten: Ohio State def. Wisconsin

SEC: Alabama def. Florida

Pac-12: Oregon def. USC

Big 12: Oklahoma State def. Iowa State

For the College Football Playoffs, I am going to slot in Alabama for the No. 1 seed. Ohio State will sit right behind them at the No. 2 seed. As for the No. 3 and 4-seeds, Clemson will beat Notre Dame in the ACC Championship game giving them the third slot, and the selection committee will fit the Irish in at No. 4. Notre Dame will put up a good fight against Alabama but will fall just short in the first round. Clemson will have another repeat of last year and find a way to win a tough one against Ohio State in the first round and square off against Alabama. The championship game between Clemson and Alabama will prove to be an all out war, but the Tide will find a way to edge out and survive to give them another national crown.

AFC

  1. Steelers
  2. Chiefs
  3. Titans
  4. Bills
  5. Ravens
  6. Colts
  7. Dolphins

NFC

  1. Seahawks
  2. Packers
  3. Saints
  4. Eagles
  5. Buccaneers
  6. Cardinals
  7. Rams

In the AFC Championship, Mahomes and the Chiefs will use their potent and dynamic offense to outscore and outplay the Steelers. While Pittsburgh is no doubt one of the best in the AFC, I think it will be hard for them to keep pace with Kansas City, especially that late in the playoffs. The NFC championship will be a repeat of 2014 with the Seahawks and the Packers. This game will turn out to be another instant classic, but it will be Green Bay advancing on rather than Seattle this time, as the Seahawks will likely not have their defense in good enough form to stop Aaron Rodgers. 

A Packers and Chiefs Super Bowl will be one of the more entertaining games played in recent memory. Both quarterbacks will put on a show but Aaron Rodgers has been a man on a mission so far this season, proving good on his word at the beginning of the season about outplaying any new QB the Packers wanted to bring in. Green Bay will find a few critical stops late and turn over the keys to Rodgers to seal the game away en route to their fifth championship.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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