20 teams are out.
12 teams are in.
It’s the NFL playoffs, and for each of the teams that have made the big dance, it doesn’t matter if you were 13-3 or 9-7. Whatever happened in the regular season is almost irrelevant. All that matters is what happens going forward.
If you’ve read any of my prediction articles before, you know I take them with a grain of salt, and the same applies for this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up being completely wrong with most of these picks, but they’re still a lot of fun to do and that’s why I do them.
So without further ado, my playoff predictions!
Wild Card Round
Indianapolis Colts (6) defeat Houston Texans (3)
The only matchup of the weekend with two division rivals squaring off. They split their regular season series, with the road team coming away with a narrow victory in each. And for their 3rd and final game, I expect no different. The Texans’ main strength on the defensive side lies with their front 7, but the Colts have the offensive line to help neutralize them as well as the weapons on offense to take advantage of the Texans’ weakness of giving up big plays down the field. The Colts might be the 6th seed but they’re one of the most dangerous teams in the whole playoffs, and I see them sending the Texans home early.
Seattle Seahawks (5) defeat Dallas Cowboys (4)
The Eagles fans that still refuse to admit it need to just accept the cold hard truth: The Cowboys’ defense is very good. VERY good. That unit is the main reason why they’re here in the postseason, and for good reason. They’re a fast and athletic group that gets after the QB, get sideline-to-sideline, and can cover well. That being said, the Seahawks’ running game can give that defense some issues. Their running game is powerful and physical. They don’t try to run around you, they run through you. Both teams have a philosophy of running the ball and controlling the clock, so expect a slow paced type of game. But when it comes down to it, I’m taking the playoff experience of Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll over the likes of Dak Prescott and Jason Garrett.
Baltimore Ravens (4) defeat Los Angeles Chargers (5)
There are a lot of Lamar Jackson detractors out there, and understandably so. He still has a lot to prove as a pocket passer. But regardless of what you think about him, the truth is that him and that Ravens running attack is absolutely deadly and tough to stop right now. It’s creative, has a lot of dimensions, and compliments their defense so well. I do think that Rivers and the Chargers passing attack are going to do much better than the 181 yards they had in the previous game, and I think Melvin Gordon will be a big factor too. The first matchup between these 2 teams felt more of like the Chargers losing the game than the Ravens winning it. I expect the Chargers to play a much cleaner game, but the Ravens to still come out victorious.
Philadelphia Eagles (6) defeat Chicago Bears (3)
Yes, I’m predicting 3 road teams to win during Wild Card Weekend. I know that’s unlikely, but that’s how I’m calling it. The Bears’ defense is great, and it’s tough to find a true weak spot at any level. Khalil Mack has been everything he was advertised to be, and Matt Nagy has done a masterful job at being creative on offense and putting his players in the best position to make plays. However, I do believe that the Eagles matchup pretty well against the Bears. The offensive line and quick passing game will make it difficult for that Bears pass rush to get consistent pressure all game long, and the defense will really test 2nd year QB Mitchell Trubisky. It’ll be a tough, grind-it-out type of game, but I see the Eagles creating some turnovers on defense and that will end up being the difference.
Kansas City Chiefs (1) defeat Indianapolis Colts (6)
Andy Reid’s lack of playoff success with the Chiefs is well known. It’s very difficult to trust his teams late in the season when they’ve repeatedly collapsed when it’s mattered most. However, the past Chiefs teams didn’t have something that this current one does, and that’s 2nd year QB and soon-to-be league MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ defense isn’t good, Kareem Hunt is gone, and Sammy Watkins is still questionable to return. But Mahomes is the type of player that can make up for deficiencies like that and carry a team on his back. You think his regular season was something special? Well I don’t think Mahomes is even close to being done. He’ll outduel Andrew Luck to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
Los Angeles Rams (2) defeat Seattle Seahawks (5)
The Rams certainly hit a rough patch in their schedule when they lost 2 games in a row a few weeks ago, 1 to the Bears and 1 to the Eagles the following week. The team that looked unstoppable at the beginning of the season suddenly looked vulnerable. But two dominating victories over their weaker division rivals the Cardinals and the 49ers could be the confidence boost they need for their playoff run. The Seahawks’ running attack is very formidable, but I expect the Rams’ running attack, led by a healthy Todd Gurley, to dominate once again.
Baltimore Ravens (4) defeat New England Patriots (2)
I believe the one team in the AFC that matches up the best against the Patriots and have the best chance to beat them is the Ravens. And it wouldn’t be the first time a John Harbaugh-led Ravens team has gone into Foxborough and knocked them out. I predicted at the beginning of the season that this Patriots team would absolutely win their division again and be one of the top seeds in the conference as always, but that they wouldn’t make it back to the Super Bowl this season. Or ever again under Bill Belichick. I still stand by that prediction. Ravens pull off the upset and advance to the AFC Conference Championship Game.
New Orleans Saints (1) defeat Philadelphia Eagles (6) defeat New Orleans Saints (1)
I believe in my Philadelphia Eagles. They definitely have a shot at making it back to the Super Bowl, and they definitely are capable of going into New Orleans and beating the Saints. There’s no way I’m counting them out of anything. But if I had to put my money on it, it’s too tough to pick them as the odds-on favorites over the Saints in New Orleans. If this game was in Philadelphia then I’d go the other way, but the Saints are just too good at home. Regardless of who comes out on top, I do expect a completely different game than the blowout that occurred in Week 11.
Conference Championship Round
New Orleans Saints (1) defeat Los Angeles Rams (2)
The Rams lost their first game of the season to the Saints in Week 9 and are probably eager to get their revenge. This is another game that could definitely go either way, but my money is on the home team yet again.
Kansas City Chiefs (1) defeat Baltimore Ravens (4)
The Ravens will do what they’ve been doing for weeks: keep the opposing offense off the field. That’s what they tried to do in Week 14 in their previous matchup with the Chiefs. But in the end, Mahomes still made the plays at the end of the game to come away with the win, and I expect the same thing in this game. I see the Chiefs pulling it out late and moving on to Super Bowl Sunday.
— NFL (@NFL) January 1, 2019
Kansas City Chiefs defeat New Orleans Saints
Andy Reid vs Sean Payton. Patrick Mahomes vs Drew Brees. It’s a matchup that I’m sure many fans are dying to see, as the two #1 seeds face-off against each other. I see this game playing out very similar to last year’s Super Bowl, which was an offensive slugfest. It’ll come down to which defense can force the timely turnover, and I think that’ll be the Chiefs’ defense. A lot of fans want to see Drew Brees win one more Super Bowl before his career ends, and that would be great to see. But I’m rooting for Andy Reid to get his first ever Super Bowl victory, and I believe that happens this February.