Predicting the Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend Through the Super Bowl
Another NFL season has come and gone, and the Kansas City Chiefs not only won the AFC West for a seventh consecutive season, they did so while going undefeated against divisional opponents. The Chiefs were able to snag the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which includes the all-important first-round bye week to help the players rest and rejuvenate before another run at the Super Bowl.
Let’s take a look at the Wild Card Weekend games and how the rest of the playoffs could shake out from there.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
The NFC West rivals will face off for the third time this season. The Niners won both games and this weekend should be no different behind a dominant defense and deep roster.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley continues to make confusing decisions. Last week, he played key starters in a game that had no significance on their playoff positioning. Some in-game coaching decisions continue to be questioned as well. The Jaguars had quite the comeback season, going from worst to first in the AFC South. Head coach Doug Pederson, an Andy Reid disciple, is looking to make waves in his first season with the Jags. Trevor Lawrence vs. Justin Herbert should be a lot of fun.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins started the season with such promise, but multiple concussions to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa derailed the season. They were lucky to get into the playoffs, but the luck will run out in Buffalo on Sunday. The Bills are banged up on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense should carry them.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
The Giants have been a fantastic story this year, as head coach Brian Daboll has done a great job with his team. The Vikings have been a very odd team. One week they’ll look like the best team in the NFL, the next they look like a bottom-five squad. Even in a span of one game against the Colts, they looked like the worst team in the league in one half before mounting the biggest comeback in NFL history to win the game in the second half. It should be a close one, but I’ll give it to the home team.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are hosting the Ravens for a second consecutive week. The Ravens will be without Lamar Jackson again and the result should remain the same. Cincy wins and covers the spread.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This could be the best game of the weekend. It could also be the ugliest game of the weekend. The Cowboys have looked terrible down the stretch and the Buccaneers finished the season with a losing record. The Bucs are a home underdog, but I guess I’ll take Tom Brady to win one more playoff game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs beat the Jaguars earlier in the season, 27-17. Andy Reid will have his players ready coming off a bye, and MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to a dominant offensive performance.
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
The game everyone wanted to see in Week 17 will be played out in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Bengals, they won’t get to host this game. However, they will be motivated to go get the win despite the Bills having home-field advantage.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles finally get the rest they need to get some players healed up. The Buccaneers offense won’t be able to keep up with the Eagles and Tom Brady will have played his last game with Tampa Bay.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
The Vikings will implode on the road and the 49ers defense will lead them to another NFC Championship game.
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
All of the extracurricular discussions surrounding the AFC Championship game potentially being on a neutral site can be disregarded with this matchup, leading to the Chiefs hosting the AFC Championship Game for an unprecedented fifth-consecutive season. Chiefs fans will be nervous seeing flashbacks in their heads of three losses to the Bengals over the past 13 months. The law of averages, along with Patrick Mahomes and his competitive spirit, tell us the Bengals should not beat the Chiefs a fourth time in a row. Give me the Chiefs breaking the curse!
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
The 49ers will have won 12 games in a row at this point. It would be tough to pick against San Francisco in this scenario, but there’s something about the Eagles and how they play that makes me think they could give the Niners trouble, especially with the home crowd behind them. My preseason prediction of the Eagles going 14-3 and playing the Chiefs in the Super Bowl has no effect on this pick. None at all.
Super Bowl: Chiefs vs. Eagles
The Andy Reid Bowl. The Kelce brothers bowl. The Super Bowl. An Eagles and Chiefs matchup would be incredible with so many storylines that tie the two franchises together. It’s tough to say which team would be favored, but there’s one guy I wouldn’t bet against, and that is the soon-to-be MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs are currently the SI Sportsbook favorite to win the Super Bowl at 350. Mahomes is also the SI Sportsbook favorite to win Super Bowl MVP at 400. I can’t say I disagree on this one. The Chiefs will bring home their second Super Bowl trophy in four years and Mahomes will be the first player since Kurt Warner in 1999 to win NFL and Super Bowl MVP in the same season. I’ll be looking forward to a special Valentine’s Day parade through downtown Kansas City!
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.