Eight weeks ago, the b-b-b-boys of Sports-Stack got together and made their preseason divisional picks. We were right about a few, wrong about a few, and a lot remains to be seen because hey, we’re only halfway there! We take a second look at the standings and desperately try to make our picks correctly this time!
Sports-Stack Round Table Midseason Division Champion Picks
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The Pittsburgh Steelers (Original Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers)
I really, really, really wanted the Cleveland Browns to pull off some kind of miracle and take the division, and for a moment, it almost looked like it was going to happen. But they just couldn’t get it done. They’ve tied the all-time record for overtime games in a single season, and if they’d finished any of those games properly, Hue Jackson might still have a job… but they didn’t, and he doesn’t.
The Steelers had an awkward start, and the Cincinnati Bengals were impressive early, but things have changed. Pittsburgh is on a three game win streak, the Bengals are stumbling, and the Ravens have lost three of their last four. If Le’Veon Bell ever decides to come back, the Steelers will run away with this division, pun completely intended.
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The Cincinnati Bengals (Original Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers)
Larson Fun Fact #9- Larson’s favorite Batman is George Clooney.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The Cincinnati Bengals (Original Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers)
Cuuuurveball. I think that the Ravens come out of their ‘win or go home’ game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, which will give the Bengals control of their own fate in the AFC North – two games against the Browns still on their slate down the stretch should make Cincinnati’s win column healthier. Tyler Boyd has quietly established himself as a solid option behind AJ Green and the Bengals defense is in the latter end of its championship window (if it has one), the Bengals will be hoping that 2018 is finally the year Andy Dalton can win a playoff game.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The Pittsburgh Steelers (Original Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers)
A month into the season this pick looked to be in jeopardy. Now, after reeling off three straight wins the Steelers look to be back to their former selves. The offense actually looks better than it did last year when they won the AFC North. The passing game isn’t wowing you with gaudy numbers, but the run game is. The Pittsburgh offense is absolutely rolling with second year back James Conner posting four 100 yard rushing games this season and nine touchdowns.
This year’s incarnation of the Steelers is more heavily leaned toward a strong running game, which will open up the passing game; which is scary for opposing defenses when you have Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster running past you and Vance McDonald running over you. The defense still has its kinks, but is seemingly finding its way. Steelers win the North yet again.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The Pittsburgh Steelers (Original Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers)
Pittsburgh seems to have found a solution to the Le’Veon Bell situation with James Conner and T.J. Watt is living up to expectations. Cincinnati or Baltimore could sneak their way into a wild card spot. The Browns have a bright future but realistically are looking at a six win season this year.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The Houston Texans (Original Pick: The Jacksonville Jaguars)
Ya know, I brought up doing a quarterly division pick roundtable, and if we had, I think my pick would’ve stayed the same. At this time, the Jags were 3-1, and only a week or two removed from beating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Meanwhile the Texans were 1-3 and unimpressive. Fast-forward and the Texans have won five straight while the Jags haven’t won since September.
I think I’m going to stick with the Texans because Blake Bortles isn’t going to turn into Drew Brees any time soon, and even the vaunted defense is struggling. Meanwhile, J.J. Watt? Defensive player of the year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The Houston Texans (Original Pick: The Houston Texans)
Larson Fun Fact #10- Larson had the lead in picks after our first round table. He only missed on the Raiders, who again, he’s never watched play.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The Houston Texans (Original Pick: The Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jaguars were my initial pick, but, well, the less said about that the better.. The Texans are sat at 5-2 and traded for wide-out Demaryius Thomas before the deadline to cover the injury to Will Fuller. Houston boast the most rounded roster in the division with Deshaun Watson fully fit and J.J Watt is again terrorising opposition quarterbacks. There’s no team in the AFC South close to usurping the Texans in the back end of the regular season, they almost retake the division title by default.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The Houston Texans (Original Pick: The Houston Texans)
After losing the first three games the Houston Texans looked to be sunk. Now, after winning five straight games they look like the team I thought they would be coming into the season. J.J. Watt and the rest of that defense is rolling back to form, and that offense doesn’t look half bad either. They have a top five receiver in Deandre Hopkins, who can overpower any defenders for a 50/50 ball, and have seemingly upgraded the number two receiver position by trading for Demaryius Thomas after deep threat Will Fuller went down. Pair those two with rookie receiver Keke Coutee, who has shown some flashes in the slot, and you have a pretty good receiving corps. Deshaun Watson is getting back to where he was a year ago before he tore his ACL, this Texans team should be fun to watch down the stretch.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The Houston Texans (Original Pick: The Jacksonville Jaguars)
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The New England Patriots (Original Pick: The New England Patriots)
Yawn. C’mon. Wake me up in January.
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The New England Patriots (Original Pick: The New England Patriots)
Larson Fun Fact #11- Larson predicted that the New York Jets would be a playoff team in August.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The New England Patriots (Original Pick: The New England Patriots)
Tom Brady still plays. The rest of the division still stinks. Thanks for coming.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The New England Patriots (Original Pick: The New England Patriots)
Any explanation for this pick is a waste of time.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The New England Patriots (Original Pick: The New England Patriots)
Probably the most boring division to pick from. Patriots are miles ahead of the rest of the division and likely clinch the #1 seed in the AFC altogether. No other team from the AFC East even makes the playoffs.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: The Oakland Raiders)
Sigh. I don’t hate being wrong, but I hate being wrong about this. Patrick Mahomes is probably the league MVP, Kareem Hunt is doing insane things, and it doesn’t matter how bad the defense is because the offense is scoring 36 points a game. Meanwhile, Derek Carr and my Raiders are a trainwreck, the Los Angeles Chargers aren’t reliable, and John Elway can’t wait to use Vance Joseph as a scapegoat for his horrible drafting.
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: The Oakland Raiders)
Larson Fun Fact #12- Larson thinks the Steelers and Chargers will be the AFC wild card teams.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: The Denver Broncos)
I said in the earlier predictions piece that the hopes of the 2018 Chiefs rested on the play of their first-year starter Patrick Mahomes. Thankfully for everyone in Arrowhead, their quarterback is currently running away with the MVP race. Mahomes has 26 touchdowns through eight games, putting him on pace for the second best total in NFL history. Okay, so the defense isn’t great, but does it need to be? The offense has so many weapons it’s hard to keep track, the Chiefs are one of the few teams in the league who already have at least one eye on the post-season – and you can’t blame them.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: The Denver Broncos)
Before the season I said the Broncos would win this division, so naturally they look like garbage. Not only has Denver been bad, but the Chiefs have been really, really good. Kansas City’s offense looks completely different with Patrick Mahomes under center. It is a high flying offense that is built around speed. Tyreek Hill? Speed. Sammy Watkins? Speed. Kareem Hunt? Speed. While the Chiefs don’t have a very good defense, they have the offense to make up for it. They make scoring 40 points look easy and that should be scary for the rest of the AFC. Barring a collapse, the Chiefs should have this division in the bag.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: The Oakland Raiders)
Kansas City has been dominating all season and if Mahomes isn’t the real deal, there’s quite a bit of lightning in that bottle. Denver is a shell of itself and Oakland is apparently on a rebuild with Gruden. Los Angeles could end up sneaking into a wild card spot but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The Minnesota Vikings (Original Pick: The Minnesota Vikings)
I thought Minnesota’s defense would be enough to carry this team into the playoffs, but how about Kirk Cousins? He’s been pretty good this year, and Adam Thielen? Is proving he belongs in the “best receiver” conversation. Dalvin Cook is missing even more time this year, but the only squad that’s hurting is my fantasy team. Khalil Mack’s Bears and Aaron Rodgers’ Packers are close behind, but my money is still on the Vikings, who are the best team in the division, to pull it off.
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The Minnesota Vikings (Original Pick: The Minnesota Vikings)
Larson Fun Fact #13- Larson picked the Bears and Packers to be the NFC wild card teams.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The Green Bay Packers (Original Pick: The Green Bay Packers)
It could honesty be any of the four, and the Packers weren’t going to be my pick until they ran the Rams to within a muffed kick return of handing LA their first loss of the season. Trading Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington won’t help their safety unit, but rookies Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson have made a marked improvement to the Packers’ secondary.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The Chicago Bears (Original Pick: The Minnesota Vikings)
This pick is a toss-up and it very well may change after the Bears and Vikings play in Week 11. Chicago had a good defense before they traded for Khalil Mack. And then they traded for Khalil Mack. This defense can generate takeaways and sacks, but they still have their flaws. On the offensive side, Jordan Howard has been less impressive but Tarik Cohen is starting to play like he has his sliders all the way up in Madden. While Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t been great, he hasn’t been awful either. The NFC North is the toughest division to pick because every team not from Detroit still has a real shot at taking the division, and they all have obvious strengths and obvious weaknesses. Ill take the Bears here with an asterisk.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The Minnesota Vikings (Original Pick: The Minnesota Vikings)
I know the Bears have Mack and I know he’s the G.O.A.T. but I still think Minnesota takes this one. I’m not sure I completely trust Trubisky to lead Chicago into the playoffs, even with tremendous defensive support and I don’t think Green Bay is a legitimate threat anymore. Detroit seems to have finally found a running game but I just don’t see them beating Minnesota and Chicago for the division.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The New Orleans Saints (Original Pick: The New Orleans Saints)
They were my NFC Champions heading into the season, and that isn’t changing now. Next pick please.
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The New Orleans Saints (Original Pick: The New Orleans Saints)
Larson Fun Fact #14- Larson thinks Mitch Trubisky is better than Derek Carr
William Frost (@willfrost_): The New Orleans Saints (Original Pick: The New Orleans Saints)
Drew Brees is breaking records left and right on his way to an MVP calibre season late in his career, unfortunately Mahomes didn’t get the memo. The Saints’ offense has been in fully swing since that embarrassing loss against Tampa Bay in the season opener. With one statement win in last weeks game in Minnesota the Saints facility will be full of positivity ahead of anther huge matchup against the Rams this Sunday. If New Orleans are able to spoil the Rams perfect season people are going to see that they really could compete in the later stages of the playoffs.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The New Orleans Saints (Original Pick: The Carolina Panthers)
The Saints are looking like one of the best teams in the league, and they are rolling with a balanced offense and an improved defense. They proved against the Vikings that they don’t need Drew Brees to throw for 300+ yards and four touchdowns to win. My preseason pick Carolina could still win it as they are only a game back of New Orleans and still have two matchups with them on the schedule, but right now it’s looking like the Saints are going to keep marching and win the division.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The New Orleans Saints (Original Pick: The Atlanta Falcons)
New Orleans is red hot, at least on offense, and should easily take the division. Atlanta is struggling with injuries at key positions and Tampa Bay doesn’t have enough Fitzmagic to get them to the top. Carolina could sneak into a wildcard spot and possibly even give the Saints a challenge for the division but New Orleans definitely comes away with it
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The Philadelphia Eagles (Original Pick: The Philadelphia Eagles)
This is a tough pick, because the Eagles aren’t in first place right now. That right belongs to the Washington Redskins of all teams. 97 year old Adrian Peterson and 105 year old Alex Smith are killing it right now… but I think Carson Wentz and the gang are gonna pull it together and take the division back. Just imagine if the Eagles traded for Bell? They could be really dangerous.
And Dallas? Thanks for the first, enjoy Amari Cooper (evil laughter).
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The Philadelphia Eagles (Original Pick: The Philadelphia Eagles)
Larson Fun Fact #15- Michael Larson is 15 years old.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The Washington Redskins (Original Pick: The Philadelphia Eagles)
Washington are 5-2 and have a 33 year old running back who is on pace for over 1000 yards and 10 total touchdowns. Who cares if Alex Smith isn’t a game changer under centre, he has enough pieces around him to make a push to play football in the new year – circa his whole spell in Kansas City. Even if Washington aren’t a great team, the rest of the NFC East is slumping enough to allow them to return to the post-season.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The Washington Redskins (Original Pick: The Philadelphia Eagles)
Washington hasn’t blown me away, but they definitely have a strong defense and a good run game with Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. The NFC East is another tough division to pick. The Eagles have seemingly pulled it together but still have weaknesses, and the Cowboys are like Jekyll and Hyde so you never know who is going to show up. Washington with an asterisk.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The Washington Redskins (Original Pick: The Philadelphia Eagles)
Washington gets the surprise pick here. They currently lead the division at 5-2 and have the easiest remaining schedule in my opinion. Philadelphia has been struggling lately but should still manage a wild card spot. Dallas is struggling to find their way on offense and the Giants are heading towards the first pick in the draft.
Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithNFL): The Los Angeles Rams (Original Pick: The Los Angeles Rams)
You’d have to be out of your damn mind to change this pick. They’re undefeated and tearing teams apart, even if they have injuries and a slow start. T-t-t-that’s all folks!
Michael Larson (Twitterless): The Los Angeles Rams (Original Pick: The Los Angeles Rams)
Larson Fun Fact #16- Larson was the first name on my list when we started this website, but he was still managing the LWOS Raiders twitter that I left to him. It didn’t work out, and the twitter hasn’t been used since, but I have no regrets. If I ever make it big, I’m bringing Larson with me.
William Frost (@willfrost_): The Los Angeles Rams (Original Pick: The Los Angeles Rams)
They’re 7-0 in a pitiful division, there’s not much else to say.
Ryan Seiple (@Ryan_Seiple): The Los Angeles Rams (Original Pick: The Los Angeles Rams)
This pick is more of a no-brainer than the Patriots. They aren’t the last undefeated team for no reason, and it isn’t like the rest of the division is great.
Christopher Bolden (@Bolden7): The Los Angeles Rams (Original Pick: The Los Angeles Rams)
Really no surprise here. Los Angeles is only 4 wins away from clinching this division and remain the only unbeaten team this far. Seattle and Arizona seem to have fallen off and San Francisco is battling the Giants for that first pick in the draft.