With the NFL playoffs officially kicking off this weekend, that can only mean one thing: It’s time to make some picks.
Over the next four weeks, the NFL will be playing a total of 11 playoff games, so I’m going to pick all 11. As you’ll probably notice below, these picks will start with the divisional round and that’s because I already gave my wild-card picks earlier this week. If you feel like reading those — and you should because they’re amazing — you can check them out by clicking here.
If you don’t feel like clicking the link, SPOILER ALERT, I picked the Seahawks, Bears, Colts and Ravens (stream the Chargers-Ravens game here) to win in the wild-card round. Of course, if I’m wrong on any of those, that would potentially throw a wrench into every pick below, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen. (For instance, if the Texans beat the Colts, then Houston would play New England in the Divisional round and the Chargers-Ravens winner would play Kansas City. In my picks, I have the Colts winning their wild-card game with Houston, which means they would play Kansas City and the Chargers-Ravens winner would play the Patriots).
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Alright, let’s get to these picks.
No. 6 Indianapolis (10-6) at No. 1 Kansas City (12-4), 4:35 p.m. ET, Jan. 12 (NBC)
The Chiefs have really had only one big weakness this year and that weakness is their pass defense. The Chiefs finished the season with the second-worst passing defense in the NFL and they were at their worst whenever Kansas City played a good team. Not only did the Chiefs go 2-4 during the regular season against this year’s playoff teams, but they gave up an average of 41 points per game in those losses. If anyone can take advantage of this Chiefs defense, it’s Andrew Luck, who finished second in the NFL in touchdown passes and fifth in passing yards. Also, if there’s one thing the Chiefs have struggled with under Andy Reid, it’s winning playoff games. Reid’s postseason record is just 1-5 with the Chiefs since taking over as coach in 2013.
The pick: Colts 37-34 over Chiefs.
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No. 3 Chicago (12-4) at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (13-3), 8:15 p.m. ET, Jan. 12 (Fox)
Back in Week 14, Jared Goff had a nightmare game when he threw four interceptions in a 15-6 loss to the Bears. Although I don’t think we’ll see Goff throw four picks again, I do think we’ll see the Bears shut down Todd Gurley for the second time this season (Gurley had just 28 yards in the first meeting), which will leave it up to Goff to win the game. If I’m betting on Goff versus the Bears defense, I’m taking the Bears defense every time. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that Mitchell Trubisky also had a horrible game in the first meeting between these two teams (he threw three picks) and if he plays any better, the Bears should win this comfortably.
The pick: Bears 27-20 over Rams
No. 4 Baltimore (10-6) at No. 2 New England (11-5), 1:05 p.m. ET, Jan. 13 (CBS)
If there’s one thing Bill Belichick knows how to do better than anyone, it’s destroy the soul of a rookie quarterback. In his career as a head coach, Belichick has gone 18-5 overall against rookie quarterbacks and that’s not even the ugly part for the Ravens. The ugly part is that he’s never lost to a rookie quarterback at home (11-0). As for the other side of the ball, the key to stopping the Ravens offense is to stay disciplined and there’s no team more disciplined than the Patriots.
The pick: Patriots 24-17 over Ravens
No. 5 Seattle (10-6) at No. 1 New Orleans (13-3), 4:40 p.m. ET, Jan. 13 (Fox)
One reason to like the Seahawks in this game is that they finished the season as the NFL’s top running team. The Seahawks like to run to set up the run, they like run to set up the pass, and sometimes, I think they like to run just to run. The problem for the Seahawks is that the Saints finished the year with the league’s second-best rushing defense. Basically, the Saints can match up with Seattle’s biggest strength, but I don’t think Seahawks have the defensive manpower to shut down the Saints’ biggest strength, their high-powered offense. Sean Payton and Drew Brees have never lost a home playoff game together (5-0) and I don’t see that first loss coming in this game.
The pick: Saints 30-23 over Seahawks
Chicago at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m. ET, Jan. 20 (Fox)
If this game happens, it would almost be fitting, and that’s because it would be a rematch of the first NFC title game that Drew Brees played with the Saints back in 2006. In that game, the Bears defense overwhelmed the Saints in a 39-14 win that propelled Chicago to Super Bowl XLI. In this game, I see the same thing happening, but I don’t think it will be a blowout because this game would be played in New Orleans and the Saints rarely get blown out at home.
The picks: Bears 23-20 over Saints
Indianapolis at New England, 6:40 p.m. ET, Jan. 20 (CBS)
If you love juicy storylines, then this is the AFC title game that you should be rooting for. For one, the Patriots could finally get some Deflategate revenge and that’s because the Colts were the ones that started Deflategate back in January 2015 following a 45-7 loss in the AFC Championship. The Colts picked off Tom Brady, then turned that football into the NFL, and the rest was history. Oh, and let’s also not forget about the fact that Josh McDaniels totally spurned the Colts back in February. After accepting their coaching job, McDaniels decided he didn’t want it anymore and he stayed in New England. Of course, things have clearly worked out for the Colts and that’s because they’re in the playoffs and could be in the AFC title game if my picks end up being correct. Revenge storylines aside, Andrew Luck is 0-6 all-time against the Patriots and those losses have basically all been ugly, coming by an average of 22.8 points, so I’m taking the Patriots.
The pick: Patriots 30-20 over Colts
Super Bowl LIII (CBS)
Chicago vs. New England in Atlanta, 6:30 p.m. ET, Feb. 3
Get ready for a week of Tom Brady retirement talk and non-stop highlights of the Super Bowl shuffle, because that’s exactly what we’ll be getting if the Bears and Patriots are playing in this game. If Brady were to beat the Bears defense and take home his sixth Super Bowl, that would almost certainly be the perfect time to ride off into the sunset. However, i don’t see that happening. Although I hate using tired cliches, I’m jumping on the “Defense wins championships” bandwagon and picking the Bears here. In 2018, the Bears defense gave up the fewest points in the NFL, forced more turnovers than any other team, gave up the fewest rushing yards, the fewest rushing touchdowns and opposing quarterbacks to a lower QB rating than any other team. Basically, the Bears defense has been destroying opponents all year and I think that will happen in the Super Bowl.
The pick: Bears 27-24 over Patriots
NOTE: If you don’t agree with my picks, you should probably click here and read Will Brinson’s projection. Brinson has two completely different teams in the Super Bowl and an equally surprising team winning it all.
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