Assuming every expectation is met, no player gets injured, and the better team wins every time, the following betting guide to the 2017 NFL Season should give you a competitive edge. With the first week in the books, we can see that these assumptions don’t always hold — the best team lost and the best running back got hurt. Despite the unpredictable nature of the game, I’ll tell you who will win on February 4, 2018. Here’s a hint— it won’t be the defending champions.

The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are comfortably first and second in the AFC with the Oakland Raiders edging out the Kansas City Chiefs for the third seed. The Houston Texans are the weakest playoff team this year, but they’re blessed with weak division competition. Plus, Deshaun Watson simply doesn’t know how to lose. Andrew Luck doesn’t have enough time to turn the Indianapolis Colts’ season around when he gets back from shoulder surgery, so the Chiefs and Denver Broncos fill the two wild card spots.

AFC Playoff Seeds: Patriots (1); Steelers (2); Raiders (3); Texans (4); Chiefs (5); Broncos (6).

The Seattle Seahawks are not the best in the NFC, but they’re the only team this season to sweep their division. The wins add up to the first seed. Close behind are the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons, and the Packers earn the other bye-week due to strength-of-schedule. The Dallas Cowboys win the contested East Division, leaving the New York Giants on the outside looking in. The Minnesota Vikings quietly ride one of the best defensive units into the wild card and are accompanied by the not-so-quiet, Cam Newton–led Carolina Panthers.

NFC Playoff Seeds: Seahawks (1); Packers (2); Falcons (3); Cowboys (4); Vikings (5); Panthers (6).

Wild Card Round:

Kansas City roll past Houston to earn a matchup with New England. With equally strong defenses, the better offense of the Raiders prevails over the Broncos’. The Falcons are ready to make last season’s Super Bowl collapse a thing of the past, and the Panthers go home early. Young stars in Dallas eliminate the Vikings’ shot at playing in their hometown for Super Bowl LII.

Divisional Round:

The Patriots avenge their season-opening loss against the Chiefs and move into the Conference Championship. Pittsburgh have enough on defense to stop Oakland, and the high-powered offense entertains on its way to New England. The Cowboys unleash Ezekiel Elliott and the Seahawks are left wondering if they need to move on from has-been players. In the best pla\yoff game this year, the Packers and Falcons game is decided by a field goal in a Green Bay victory.

Conference Championships:

New England-Pittsburgh and Green Bay-Dallas. Pittsburgh can commit to stopping the run or the pass, but not both. Bill Belichick widens the gap between him and the next tier of coaches as he leads the Patriots to his eighth Super Bowl. Green Bay’s veteran leadership coupled with a Wisconsin winter day give them the edge over Dallas.

Super Bowl LII:

The Patriots find themselves in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, but the Cheeseheads make the short trip to Minnesota to give the Green Bay Packers the fan support they need. Aaron Rodgers is too good a quarterback to only win the Lombardi Trophy once. Green Bay wins it all.

Tagged: NFL

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