Predicting the NFL Playoffs: An underdog comes out of the AFC & a favorite wins the NFC

Spoiler alert: I’ve never been all that great at picking the NFL’s postseason…so by all means, fade the following playoff predictions as you wish. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s that when I pick all favorites, it comes up underdogs and vice versa.

So I’m going to split the difference this year. My AFC pick will be a road warrior come late-January. I mean…do you really trust Patrick Mahomes in his first playoff game? Or Andy Reid who chokes year after year in the postseason. Or a Patriots team, that while experienced, lacks viable playmakers on both sides of the ball?

In the NFC on the other hand, take the chalk for reasons you’ll see below…you probably won’t regret it. If I’m confident in one playoff prediction, it’s the team I have winning 3 games out of the NFC…

brees

Wild Card Round

HOUSTON 27, Indianapolis 23 (ATS: Texans -1)

Yes, I know the Colts are hot. But Houston is at home with a future star at QB, arguably the best WR in the league, and arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. Though Andrew Luck has been phenomenal throughout the last half of the regular season, I have a strong feeling that the run for the Colts comes to an end on Saturday. Next year they’ll be an interesting sleeper pick to win the AFC depending on the offseason moves they make.

BALTIMORE 26, Los Angeles Chargers 20 (ATS: Ravens -2.5)
The Ravens simply dismantled the Chargers two weeks ago in LA…why would things change this weekend? If Baltimore and rookie QB Lamar Jackson can control the clock for 35+ minutes, I don’t see how LA can win. And that’s what I think will happen. Either way, I’m picking the winner of this game to win their next contest at Kansas City or New England.

Seattle 24, DALLAS 21 (ATS: Seahawks +2)
I’m torn on this pick – I think Dallas is probably the better team but it’s hard to pick against Russell Wilson in essentially a toss-up game. Plus I need to pick one road team to win on Wild Card weekend, right? In a fun game on Saturday night, the Cowboys season comes to a rough ending, once again putting added pressure on coach Jason Garrett for 2019.

CHICAGO 22, Philadelphia 17 (ATS: Eagles +6)
Philly’s run with Nick Foles has to end sooner or later, right? This is BY FAR the best defense he will have faced in recent memory and on the road in Chicago, with the Bears playing their first playoff game since 2010…this one seems like an easy pick. But be careful of the line…I really would hate to fade the Eagles and Foles-magic this easily. In a lower-scoring game (aka take the under 41), Chicago advances and a trip to LA awaits.

Divisional Playoffs

Baltimore 27, KANSAS CITY 23
The Ravens should’ve won this game in December in Arrowhead and will do so in January. I love the formula of a ball control offense and an aggressive defense beating a high-powered offense. John Harbaugh goes from potentially losing his job 6 weeks ago to the AFC Championship Game.

Houston 30, NEW ENGLAND 28
This is probably a very stupid pick. I mean very, very stupid…considering Houston may not even win their first round game. But I’m so down on the Patriots and virtually guaranteed they wouldn’t make the Super Bowl again this year that I have to stick with this one. Deshaun Watson has a bright future and it starts in Year 2 with his team now hosting the conference championship.

LOS ANGELES RAMS 27, Chicago 21
Sorry Bears fans…the Rams will be rested and healthy and won’t put up a dud this time around against Chicago, especially at home. I think the line would be right around 5.5 for this one…so give me LA ever so slightly to cover in that instance.

NEW ORLEANS 34, Seattle 23
Russell Wilson is already a playoff legend. But he’s not beating this Saints team, with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in the Superdome this postseason. I’d almost put my house on that one!

Conference Championships

Baltimore 23, HOUSTON 17
A matchup of a rookie QB vs. a second year QB in the AFC Title Game…amazing. But if it happens, Baltimore has the formula to once again keep the better throwing QB off the field. Run, run, run…sprinkle in the occasional pass…and don’t give up big plays on defense. In what appears to be an absolutely improbable run, Lamar Jackson takes his team from playoff pretender in early-November to the Super Bowl.

NEW ORLEANS 37, Los Angeles Rams 30

These teams played to a fun 45-35 score in early-November and while it won’t be quite as high-scoring, this game will be just as fun. I believe this will be Drew Brees’ last game in the Superdome before retiring into the sunset this offseason. While I proclaimed the Rams as unbeatable in midseason, playing in New Orleans will ultimately be their kryptonite.

Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS 27, Baltimore 20

My first bet in this game would be to take the under. With two weeks to prepare, both defenses will be fantastic in the first half before the game opens up in the final 30 minutes. But in a dome stadium with the better coach, QB, playmakers, and a defense that isn’t all that inferior, give me New Orleans to raise their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history (and the last decade). Drew Brees is named the MVP and rides off into the sunset a la John Elway 20 years ago or so.


Recapping the Regular Season Picks

2018
Last Week: 11-5 Straight Up (SU), 7-9 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 174-80-2 SU (68.5%), 134-122 ATS (52.3%)

2017
Overall: 171-85 SU (66.8%), 141-114-1 ATS (55.3%)

A small step up straight up but a significant step down against the spread. Overall a mixed season with picks.

Fantasy Football Guidance Recap

‘Boom & Crush’ Record (15+ PPR fantasy points from a non-must start player)
Last Week: 1-2
Overall: 30-21 (58.8%)

‘Be Careful’ Record (12 or less PPR fantasy points from a top-15 player)
Last Week: 2-1
Overall: 28-23 (54.9%)

For more NFL analysis and thoughts, listen to The Daily Blender, weekdays from 3-6pm on 1580TheFanatic.  You can tune in here.

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