Wild Card Round
Bills over Texans 27-10
I won’t be surprised with how this game pans out. Deshaun Watson and Co. will struggle coming out of the gate, because that’s just how the Texans offense has been lately. Watson won’t get the protection he needs from this swarming Bills front, and DeAndre Hopkins will be handled accordingly by the Bills DBs. Checkdown Charlies to Carlos Hyde produce a lot of three and outs, equating to a miserable, unrecoverable first half. As Booger McFarland, the ESPN color analyst for this game, would say, “The Bills will score more points than the Texans, but what that really means is the Bills will win the game and progress to the next round.”
Titans over Patriots 42-17
The Titans offense will either explode with Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown or lay a big fat egg. I’ll take the former, because I’m a Seattleite, but this could, and probably will, bite me in the ass come Saturday night.
Saints over Vikings 42-10
The Saints are on their revenge tour after last year’s NFC Championship Game shenanigans. Drew Brees was spotted in a New Orleans barber shop getting a fresh cut for the winning postgame interview. Every Saint who played in their 2018 NFC divisional game will make sure that any possibility of another Minnesota miracle is extinguished by the end of the first quarter. And the person who is tasked with stopping this? Kirk Cousins, who, yea:
Seahawks over Eagles 20-17
Battle of attrition. This will be a tough, ugly game for two teams riddled with injuries. This will probably come down to who controls possession in the 4th quarter, and Russell Wilson does this better than anyone else in the NFL.
Bills over Chiefs 31-28 (OT)
There’s gotta be a Cinderella story somewhere in this mess, and I’m picking the Bills to be the protagonist. It’s gonna be chilly in Kansas City, but the Bills of Buffalo, New York are definitely up to the task.
Ravens over Titans 45-14
Rested Lamar, stellar Baltimore D clicking at the right time, and the best kicker in the NFL. Sorry Mike Vrabel, but your luck ends here.
Seahawks over 49ers 40-38
The rubber match for this series, and the Seahawks will try to avenge a divisional crown being ripped out of their hands by a no-call pass interference. In a crazy, back and forth shootout, Robbie Gould misses from 49 yards out to send the Seahawks onwards.
Saints over Packers 30-19
The Packers are the most overrated team in the playoffs, and I have no idea how they got a first-round bye. The Packers are outmatched in every category except for their ability to handle cold climates, but even then Drew Brees’ red hot offense will be too much for the Cheeseheads to handle.
Saints over Seahawks 42-31
The Saints find themselves in the same position as last year, and this time no one will be stopping them. The Saints will dominate the game and their tickets to Miami will be bought in the second quarter. The scoreline indicates a close game, but most of the points scored by the Seahawks will be mere consolation.
Bills over Ravens 20-16
Crazy how this world works. The 5th seed Bills march into Baltimore, and the Ravens will play down to them, expecting an easy victory at 60% effort. 59 minutes later and the Ravens find themselves at the goal line on 4th and goal, down by 4. Lamar takes the ball and tries to sneak it in, but is met at the line by Lorenzo Alexander, sending his team to the Super Bowl.
Bills over Saints 30-27
The Bills Mafia is locked and loaded to make a lot of noise and destroy many folding tables in Miami Gardens. After a crazy back and forth affair, the referees will ensure a Bills victory by turning a blind eye to Micah Hyde’s blatant hold on Michael Thomas late in the fourth quarter, which can’t be reviewed.
Wild Card Round
Texans over Bills 20-13
The Bills are a great story, but I don’t buy that they are a great team just yet. For all the talk about their great defense, they have been susceptible to the run game sometimes. Expect Carlos Hyde to have a big game for the Texans. J.J. Watt’s return is a huge boost for a Texans defense that struggled down the stretch. Josh Allen will be under pressure all game and fall just short of finishing a Bills comeback.
Titans over Patriots 20-16
I just can’t get over the Patriots’ loss at home to the Dolphins with a first round bye on the line. That’s about as close to playoff importance as a regular season game can get, and the Patriots completely fell flat against a tanking team. Stephon Gilmore was burned by DeVante Parker last Sunday. I think A.J. Brown could do the same in Foxborough, and Derrick Henry will contribute with a touchdown run of at least 40 yards.
Saints over Vikings 31-6
Drew Brees vs Second Cousins. Is there anything else I need to say? Oh yeah, the game is in New Orleans.
Seahawks over Eagles 27-13
Don’t tell me the Eagles are red hot. Their four-game winning streak to close the season came against their lousy division opponents, the best one being a Cowboys team led by an injured Dak Prescott. The Eagles won’t be able to make big offensive plays against a Seahawks defense that shut them down in late November. Russell Wilson will do some damage with the help of his weapons as the Seahawks win comfortably.
Ravens over Titans 24-16
After a massive upset of the Patriots, the Titans put up a real fight in Baltimore. Henry provides a punch and keeps them in the game. The Ravens won’t be able to put the game away early against a solid Titans run defense, but they’ll put pressure on Ryan Tannehill and force him into throwing a couple interceptions.
Chiefs over Texans 34-23
Coming off a bye, Andy Reid will have his Chiefs prepared for Watt and the Texans’ defense. Patrick Mahomes delivers a stellar performance and the Texans just can’t keep up. The improved Chiefs defense makes some key plays to secure the win.
49ers over Seahawks 24-21
These teams have already played two intense games that came down to the final seconds. When I look at this matchup, I’m going to ignore the talent of the teams and individual players. It’s hard to imagine the result being anything besides another close game. That means it will come down to coaching and late-game execution, so I have to take the San Francisco 49ers of Santa Clara here. I just don’t have much confidence in the Seahawks’ coaching staff right now.
Saints over Packers 27-20
Aaron Rodgers is almost five years younger than Drew Brees, but their play this season has made it seem like it’s the other way around. The pass rush of the Saints will cause problems for Rodgers, keeping the Packers off the scoreboard early. Michael Thomas shouldn’t have any trouble getting open against a Packers secondary that has been inconsistent.
Chiefs over Ravens 31-21
We haven’t seen the Ravens play from behind much this season because of how dominant they’ve been. Usually they get ahead early, which allows them to stick to their preferred offensive gameplan. That’s not going to happen against the Chiefs and their explosive offense. In both games where the Ravens fell behind by two scores, they ended up losing. Mahomes is simply a more dynamic passer than Jackson, and that will be the deciding factor in this game.
Saints over 49ers 27-24
The 49ers won a 48-46 shootout in the first meeting between these two teams. I don’t think we’ll see quite as much scoring the second time, as the defensive coordinators on both teams find ways to slow the other team’s offense. This time, Jimmy Garoppolo’s playoff inexperience shows up late, as he throws an interception to seal a Saints victory.
Saints over Chiefs 45-40
Super Bowl LIV features two of the best offenses in the NFL and a contrast in styles. A few weeks after turning 41, Brees leads his more methodical Saints offense against the 24-year-old Mahomes and his crew of explosive weapons. The Chiefs set the tone immediately with an electrifying 75-yard pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill on the first play of the game. Unfazed, Brees leads his offense in a 12-play drive down the field that results in a Thomas touchdown catch. Both teams continue to trade points throughout the game. In the third quarter, Mecole Hardman returns a punt 83 yards for a—scratch that, there can’t be punts in this game! Hardman returns a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game at 33. With under three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs face a critical 3rd-and-12 from their own 23 while down 45-40. The Chiefs get what appears to be a huge call in their favor when Marshon Lattimore is flagged for pass interference on Hill at the Saints’ 37. A furious Sean Payton throws the challenge flag, and in a shocking twist of events, the call is overturned to offensive pass interference on Hill! Mahomes’ 3rd-and-22 pass to Kelce goes for just 16 yards, and Reid opts for the first punt of the game, but only after letting the clock wind down to two minutes. Alvin Kamara secures the first down the Saints need, and Super Bowl MVP Brees announces his retirement in his post-game press conference.
Wild Card Round
Texans over Bills 24-21
I’m not buying the Bills offense, although their defense does scare me a lot. How well it can stop DeAndre Hopkins and Carlos Hyde will be a key to the Bills plan. That being said, another key thing is J.J. Watt coming back. Yes, he’s coming off of a pectoral tear but the Texans’ defense has been inconsistent all season and he will be sure to pressure Josh Allen into some sacks and some inconsistent throws. The X-factor for me will be Will Fuller. If he’s clear to play on Saturday (and some reports say it’s “a longshot”) he will be a potent weapon to stop double-teaming of Nuk and give Kenny Stills, another key receiver, space to move around.
Patriots over Titans 35-20
Despite the Titans doing decently this year, Ryan Tannehill deciding to revive his career, and Derrick Henry terrorizing the ground game, this is the Patriots we’re talking about here. Tom Brady, while immensely old, is still effective, and you know Bill Belichick is waiting for a moment to silence all the doubters.
Saints over Vikings 35-31
The memes about Kirk Cousins aside, the Vikings haven’t exactly shown themselves to be postseason stalwarts throughout their history (and when they have been, they’ve lost in heartbreaking fashion). It doesn’t help that Cousins sucks against teams with a winning record, which the Saints very much do have.
Seahawks over Eagles 28-25
I suspect all those injuries to the Eagles will catch up to them, plus the Seahawks have done sneakily well on the road this season. This will hopefully break the narrative since around 2015 that the Seahawks suck on the road.
Ravens over Texans 28-10
Oh boy, this game is going to hurt. The two teams played earlier this season, with Baltimore spanking Houston by over 30 points. The Ravens have a great defense, something that the Texans have struggled with this season. Plus, the Texans haven’t done amazing things against the Ravens in their history (they lost their previous matchup against the Ravens in the 2012 Divisional Round) I obviously hope to be proven wrong, but I suspect a blowout here again.
Chiefs over Patriots 27-20
I think this is the point where the Patriots’ pixie dust ends. As pesky as the Patriots can be, the Chiefs will probably learn how to stop them from last year’s debacle. Plus, the Patriots have not done well on the road this year and getting that first-round bye was essential for their aging bodies.
Seahawks over 49ers 28-25
The 49ers have looked sort of iffy over the past couple of weeks and the Seahawks seem like the team with multiple weapons and Russell Wilson ever the underdog to try to slay a giant. It does help the Seahawks won in San Francisco earlier this season.
Saints over Packers 29-21
I’m not buying this Packers team. They have done very well with what they have, but Aaron Rodgers have regressed immensely and their receiving corps can’t catch anything nowadays. The Saints will be sure to keep last year in mind and keep marching forward through the playoffs.
Chiefs over Ravens 35-32
If there’s one team that can stop the Ravens in the AFC, it’s the Chiefs. Mahomes has proven himself to be a worthy competitor, and as good as Jackson has been, Mahomes has managed to stare straight into the Patriot machine and do reasonably well (not his fault the Chiefs crumbled late last year). However, the Chiefs defense is pretty meh and I think the Ravens will be sure to take advantage of that.
Saints over Seahawks 35-30
The Saints’ road back to the Super Bowl will eat a bunch of Seahawks alive in the Superdome. The Saints have more weapons and Brees will be sure to use last year’s awful defeat as fuel. Plus, the Seahawks’ injuries may finally catch up with them.
Saints over Chiefs 30-28
I think this will be a Super Bowl for the ages. This is the Super Bowl we should have gotten last season. The up-and-coming quarterback (Mahomes) against the legendary quarterback (Brees). Two teams that were screwed mightily whether by format (Chiefs) or refball (Saints). This should be a fun one. Key factors will be the Chiefs’ meh defense and the Saints’ weapons on offense in Thomas and Kamara.
Wild Card Round
Bills over Texans 24-20
This season, Deshaun Watson has posted a career high 12 interceptions, to go along with a career low in passer rating. The Bills jump out to a 17-3 halftime lead thanks in part to a Tre’Davious White pick-six, and despite a late Texans rally, Sean McDermott’s crew holds on for the win.
Patriots over Titans 17-15
Tom Brady turns in a mediocre performance, throwing for one touchdown with one interception, but Ryan Tannehill reverts back to his old Dolphins self. Against a masterful Bill Belichick gameplan, Greg Joseph’s five field goals are the only points the Titans score on the day.
Saints over Vikings 34-20
Kirk Cousins completes 80% of his passes, but with under 7 yards per attempt. The Vikings offense sputters to just 13 points in the first three quarters, as the Saints cruise into a visit to Lambeau Field.
Seahawks over Eagles 26-20 (OT)
An instant playoff classic. Russell Wilson throws two interceptions as the Eagles claim a 20-10 lead going into the fourth quarter, but a Jason Myers career-long 59 yard field goal as time expires sends the game to OT, where Wilson leads the Hawks down to the 1 yard line. Marshawn Lynch punches it in to send Pete Carroll’s bunch to Santa Clara.
Ravens over Bills 24-13
Josh Allen puts in one of the worst performances of his young career as the Bills offense turns the ball over four times. Lamar Jackson rushes for over 100 yards and 2 TDs, but a big hit from Tremaine Edmunds sends Jackson out on a stretcher with a concussion, and doubtful for the AFC Championship.
Chiefs over Patriots 30-24 (OT)
Belichick and Josh McDaniels draw up a brilliant gameplan to mask Tom Brady’s deficiencies and limit Patrick Mahomes for much of the game, but a late fourth quarter Chiefs drive ties it up at 24 and sends the game to OT. In last year’s AFC Championship, the Patriots won the toss and scored the game-winning TD. This time, the coin favors the Chiefs.
49ers over Seahawks 27-20
Jimmy G makes John Lynch look like a genius with a January performance for the ages, ripping apart a Seattle defense that still can’t figure out how to pressure the quarterback. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin turn back the clock to combine for over 100 yards and a score. The Hawks recover an onside kick with 1:03 left in the game, but Richard Sherman clinches a Niners win with an interception of Russell Wilson when DK Metcalf slips on a deep route.
Packers over Saints 17-14
The Packers and Saints both try to stick with the run game in the Lambeau snow, with the teams compiling almost as many rushing yards as passing yards. But near the end of the game, Aaron Rodgers is forced to throw to close a 14-10 deficit, and Matt LaFleur calls a perfect two-minute drill, culminating in a jump ball TD to Jimmy Graham. Graham dunks the ball over the field goal crossbar, resulting in a hefty fine, but LaFleur’s dream rookie season as a head coach continues.
Chiefs over Ravens 30-21
With Lamar Jackson out with a concussion sustained in the Divisional Round win over the Bills, RGIII starts his first playoff game since 2012, and John Harbaugh fails to advance to his first Super Bowl since 2012. Tyreek Hill torches the Ravens defense for nearly 200 yards and 3 scores as Andy Reid advances to just his second Super Bowl as an NFL head coach.
49ers over Packers 38-33
Away from the friendly confines of Lambeau Field, the Packers defense struggles to prevent Kyle Shanahan’s team from marching up and down the field all afternoon. Aaron Rodgers puts in a superb performance to keep in the Packers in the game, but an Aaron Jones fumble late in the fourth quarter hands the win to San Francisco. On the flight home, Matt LaFleur vows to give Jamaal Williams more carries next season.
Chiefs over 49ers 14-9
In a strangely low-scoring Super Bowl, Tyreek Hill burns Richard Sherman for a late third quarter 63 yard TD that ends up being the game-winner. Frank Clark terrorizes the 49ers offensive line to the tune of 3.5 sacks. Jimmy G, under pressure all game, throws a pick to Tyrann Mathieu and finishes the day with a completion percentage under 50%. While the Chiefs players celebrate with champagne, Andy Reid sits in a corner, savoring his first Super Bowl win with a triple cheeseburger.