NFL Longshot Expert Picks to Make the 2016 Playoffs

Posted by Jordan Walterss on Thursday,August 4, 2016 8:33, EST in

Every season over the past decade, at least four playoff teams failed to make the postseason in the following season. That means at least four teams who missed out did get in the following year. As usual, the NFL appears full of parity in 2016. Here are two long-shot picks to make the playoffs this year with their NFL odds to do so.

Here’s a Look at the NFL Longshot Expert Picks to Make the 2016 Playoffs

Jacksonville Jaguars (+190 on NFL odds)

This team has a really good young core of players on both offense and defense. Can it get rid of a losing culture? Coach Gus Bradley is definitely on the hot seat. Looking for a potential breakout player in the NFL this year? Consider Jacksonville WR Rashad Greene. The 2015 fifth round pick out of FSU missed some time as a rookie due to an injury, but he was a force as a punt returner when he finally made it back.

Greene was Jameis Winston’s top target at Florida State, catching balls in tight coverage and getting vertical with ease against college corners. The Jaguars haven’t seen much from Marqise Lee yet, and Blake Bortles could use another reliable target over the middle. Greene will have to improve on last season’s 53 percent catch rate to be that target. I think he can be.

A potential Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate is second-round pick and linebacker Myles Jack. He was a Top-5 talent in this year’s draft but slipped due to concerns over his knee. He has been getting time with the first time in camp. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash said the team is pleased with Jack’s progress – and that the team is not holding him back in practice. Jack missed all but three offseason practices because of an NCAA rule prohibiting rookies from participating in offseason workouts until their schools finish the spring semester. Mack also has impressed linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose job Jack is trying to take.

“His athletic ability stands out all the time,” Posluszny said. “You can see him on the field and see his speed and his burst and all of that. He’s very consistent in what he does. It’s always. With him, it’s always. You can see why he was such a highly touted pick and why we picked him so high.”

New Orleans Saints (+270 in NFL betting)

We know the Saints are going to score as Drew Brees continues to play at a high level. He won a record sixth NFL passing yardage title last year. But will the Saints play good enough defense to reach the playoffs after back-to- back years of 7-9?

Expect a huge season from third-year receiver Brandin Cooks. He is poised to be the Saints’ most dynamic playmaker after his sizzling finish last season: eight touchdowns and four games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage over the final nine games. Cooks, still just 22 until September, caught 84 passes for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns overall. The blazing-fast, 5-foot- 10, 189-pounder really started to get into a nice deep-ball rhythm with Brees during his sophomore season with TD catches of 71, 60, 54 and 38 yards over that nine-game stretch.

That Saints defense got good news this week when cornerback Keenan Lewis was activated from the physically-unable- to-perform list Wednesday. The Saints are easing Lewis back into the mix following multiple hip surgeries that limited him to just six games last season. Lewis’ last surgery was in January, and he participated in many of this summer’s OTAs and minicamp sessions. If Lewis, 30, is able to return close to his form from 2013 and 2014, the Saints’ pass defense will be in much better shape. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound Lewis emerged as a No. 1 cornerback, routinely matching up against the opponents’ top receivers.