After the first week of the NFL playoffs in the new format, we are now left with 8 teams. Our predictions were right on 4 of the 6 matchups last week with 2 unexpected upsets from the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Rams. This week, we are looking to go for 4 correct predictions which will set us at 4-0 for the week and 8-2 for playoffs if true.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns
The Browns defied all odds by not only making the playoffs but they also have won their first playoff matchup in over 20 years. The Browns are a surging team who are just happy to be where they are to begin with. The Browns are led by a rushing tandem who are plowing through defenses and their own defense who has played better than normal. The Browns are looking to make even more franchise history and take down the #1 overall Kansas City Chiefs.
The Kansas City Chiefs finished the season with the best record in the league at 14-2. The Chiefs high powered offense contains notable stars such as Pat Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Le’Veon Bell and other offensive threats. The Chiefs led one of the league’s highest scoring offenses and this matchup is set to be a high scoring one. The Chiefs are well-rested and looking to capitalize on this needed break.
Prediction: Chiefs win 34-24.
The Chiefs offense will be too much for the Browns and the Browns offense won’t be able to keep up with Mahomes. Mahomes has been excellent this season in the running for the MVP Race. The Browns should be proud of everything they’ve worked towards this season but will ultimately fall short to the Chiefs this weekend.
Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens finally have broken out of their recent playoff slump that they have been stuck in winning their first playoff matchup in recent years. Lamar Jackson has turned around his play since a few poor performances earlier on in the season. Jackson is the 1st quarterback in NFL history with multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Baltimore played on the road against the Titans and are seeking to win on the road again led by Jackson’s impressive footwork. Baltimore has fought for their playoff spot by narrowly squeaking in even with being one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Ravens will certainly look to give the Bills a run for their money and play tough, gritty football from the second the ball snaps.
The Buffalo Bills have won their 1st division title since Tom Brady joined the NFL. The Bills look to be the best team in the AFC East for several years to come with the Dolphins right behind them on their heels. The Bills swept the Dolphins this year on their way to an impressive 13-3 record led by MVP candidate Josh Allen and newcomer wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Allen and Diggs have played well together with both being at the top or very close to it in many statistical categories. The pair combined for well over 1,000 yards together in their first season which is very impressive. The Bills could work on improving their rushing game but going against a tough rush defense, they would be reliant on their passing game regardless. Josh Allen wants to prove to the doubters that they are for real and are seeking to play Kansas City in a rematch from earlier in the season where they were narrowly edged out by the Mahomes led Chiefs.
Prediction: Bills win 27-24.
The Bills will win this hard fought matchup on a game-winning drive led by Josh Allen. The Bills are for real and the surging Ravens will be one of their toughest matchups of the season, but for the Bills, this is just practice for their real test next week when they face off against Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City.
Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Despite being the #1 overall seed and receiving a 1st round bye,the Green Bay Packers don’t have an easy matchup by any means coming off of the bye. This matchup features an MVP candidate versus the defensive player of the year candidate. The Rams have Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, the Rams defense is a force to be reckoned with. The offense needs some work with Goff being shaky and is battling with a broken thumb right now where he has not played as well as he could have. In a matchup where playing at a high level, Goff is going to need to play at a higher level than normal. Not just Goff, but Kupp and Woods will need to both show up, oftentimes, one plays well and then the other has a good week the following week. The Rams offense needs to have more consistency.
Aaron Rodgers will be under constant pressure from Aaron Donald and Davante Adams will be guarded like glue with Ramsey right by his side. Other players on Green Bay will need to step up to the occasion. These players are going to be Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, and Aaron Jones. These 3 players will help alleviate some of the stress off of the pressure Adams will receive. Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer and has had one of the best seasons of his career this year which he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Prediction: Green Bay wins 24-13.
Green Bay will utilize the other offensive weapons at their disposal and not need to rely on Pro Bowl wideout Davante Adams to play at his optimal level. Rodgers will spread the ball across the field as long as he escapes the threat of Aaron Donald. Green Bay will win this one as Rodgers has played in matchups like this before and has shown he can win under the pressure in big-time moments.
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In a showdown between two of the all-time greats, Drew Brees and Tom Brady might face off for their last matchup if Brees decides to retire in the offseason. Brady won his first wild card matchup of his career when playing as the wild card team. Brady will look to continue off of that trend with playing as the wild card in this divisional matchup. Tampa Bay has built a “super team” around Tom Brady with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Ronald Jones III, longtime teammate Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, Leonard Fournette, Scotty Miller, and Antonio Brown who was signed midway through the season. Tom Brady has been playing well and has led Tampa Bay to an 11-5 record behind the star talent surrounding him.
Drew Brees also has star power around him specifically in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Thomas is the slot king. Thomas is one of the league’s best wide receivers but has battled with injuries throughout the season. With Thomas healthy, this will allow for one classic shootout between Brees and Brady. Alvin Kamara has been another threat and a fantasy stud for New Orleans when Brees has been healthy. Without Brees when Taysom Hill was under center, Kamara saw a significant drop in touches as Hill was more of a wild card than a traditional quarterback that the team was used to. Without Brees or Thomas, the Saints still managed to find ways to win which is what you need in this game even if the wins were ugly.
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins 31-24.
New Orleans has been able to find ways to win even without their stars but they have had a more manageable schedule which has worked out in their favor. Tampa Bay will be a much tougher matchup and Brady is looking to build on his legacy and will do so without fail. Brady is going to be playing to show why he is the greatest QB to ever play the game. This will be one of his tougher roads to the Super Bowl if they can find a way to make it in. They have to start one week at a time and have a tough matchup looming ahead this week as they will take down New Orleans in a tougher matchup.