We have arrived at the halfway point of the NFL season. Here’s a brief rundown of who are contenders, outsiders and are planning for next season.
1. Nashville Predators
Their defense is still stacked, but will the offense match?
2. St. Louis Blues
Coming in as defending Stanley Cup champions shouldn’t have any effect on this team.
3. Colorado Avalanche
They were a dark horse team last year, but they should be legit contenders this year.
4. Winnipeg Jets
The loss of a few key players will hurt, but this team is too talented to not make the playoffs.
5. Dallas Stars
If they remain a defensive stalwart they’ll be playing in the playoffs once again.
6. Minnesota Wild
They seem to always be a player or two away from making a leap in a stacked division.
7. Chicago Blackhawks
They could certainly make strides this year, but everyone above them is better by far.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 4. New Jersey Devils
2. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 3. Boston Bruins
1. Washington Capitals vs. 4. Florida Panthers
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 3. Carolina Hurricanes
1. Nashville Predators vs. 4. Dallas Stars
2. St. Louis Blues vs. 3. Colorado Avalanche
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. Winnipeg Jets
2. Calgary Flames vs. 3. San Jose Sharks
1. New England Patriots
The quintessential kings of this division will easily finish in first place for the 11th straight season.
2. New York Jets
Their spending spree netted them one of the best running backs in the league and a middle linebacker entering the prime of his career.
3. Buffalo Bills
This is Josh Allen’s team and the second year pro looks primed to take the next step in his maturation.
4. Miami Dolphins
Seeing a franchise with a long storied history begin to go through a rebuild is painful to watch.
Wild Card Team #2 vs. Atlantic Division Winner
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Players to Watch: F Artemi Panarin and F Nikita Kucherov
Who Wins: Lightning in 6 games
Atlantic Division #3 vs. Atlantic Division #2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins
Players to Watch: D Morgan Rielly and F David Pastrnak
Who Wins: Bruins in 7 games
Wild Card Team #1 vs. Metropolitan Division Winner
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals
Players to Watch: G Petr Mrazek and F Evgeny Kuznetsov
Who Wins: Capitals in 5 games
Metropolitan Division #3 vs. Metropolitan Division #2
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders
Players to Watch: F Jake Guentzel and G Robin Lehner
Who Wins: Penguins in 6 games
Wild Card Team #2 vs. Pacific Division Winner
Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames
Players to Watch: F Nathan MacKinnon and D Mark Giordano
Who Wins: Flames in 7 games
Pacific Division #3 vs. Pacific Division #2
Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks
Players to Watch: F Mark Stone and D Erik Karlsson
Who Wins: Golden Knights in 6 games
Wild Card Team #1 vs. Central Division Winner
Dallas Stars vs. Nashville Predators
Players to Watch: G Ben Bishop and F Viktor Arvidsson
Who Wins: Predators in 6 games
Central Division #3 vs. Central Division #2
St. Louis Blues vs. Winnipeg Jets
Players to Watch: G Jordan Binnington and F Mark Scheifele
Who Wins: Jets in 6 games