Finally, we’re headed into the Playoffs. Obviously, we’ll be doing picks every week for the games, and previews. But this is our chance to say “we told you so” from the beginning. We will be giving you our predictions of how it all plays out, each with our own twist, from the Wild Card round to the Super Bowl. So here we go.
Wild Card Weekend
(5) Chiefs Over (4) Texans – 30-14
(6) Steelers Over (3) Bengals – 27-20
(6) Steelers Over (1) Broncos – 31-20
(2) Patriots Over (5) Chiefs – 24-20
(6) Steelers over (2) Patriots – 30-27
Overview: The Chiefs and Steelers simply have too much experience for their opponents, as they cruise to victory. As we head to the divisional round, things get interesting. The Steelers prove that their late season outburst against Denver was no fluke, as they drop 30+ again on the best defense in football. Meanwhile, the Chiefs magic carpet ride comes to an end, as the Patriots defeat them, despite ending the season on a cold streak. Finally, we see a Week 1 re-match… Only this time, Big Ben and the Steelers prevail. Before anyone calls this biased, keep in mind that you will not meet a person who despises the Steelers more than me, yet I’m picking them. Here’s to me being wrong, I’m rooting for the Chiefs.
Super Bowl Pick: Steelers
Team to Root For: Chiefs
Wild Card Weekend
(6) Seahawks Over (3) Vikings – 34-23
(4) Redskins Over (5) Packers – 30-21
(6) Seahawks Over (1) Panthers – 26-23
(2) Cardinals Over (4) Redskins – 45-24
(6) Seahawks Over (2) Cardinals 27-23
Overview: The Seahawks are playing better than anybody right now, and they’ll prove that they are the class of the NFC as they go through a brutal road schedule. The Vikings are too one dimensional. The Panthers and Cardinals… Both could stop them. I can see any of those three teams going, but my gut says Seahawks. I do hope the Cardinals, with Bruce Arians, can take them to the promised land. Either way, it’ll lead to an exciting Super Bowl. Oh, and the Redskins will actually win a game, it will be nice.
Super Bowl Pick: Seahawks
Team to Root For: Cardinals
Super Bowl 50
Steelers. Seahawks. A re-match of the 2005 season. Only this time, Russell Wilson and company prevail, again, against the Steelers. The last time they met up, the Steelers managed to score the points, but they couldn’t stop the Seahawks. Now, their offense will be more banged up. Now, their defense will be more tired. Now, it’s the Playoffs. I’m predicting a Seahawks win by double digits here.
Final Score: Seahawks Win 34-20 over the Steelers
#6 Seattle Seahawks at #3 Minnesota Vikings
#5 Green Bay Packers at #4 Washington Redskins
#6 Seattle Seahawks at #1 Carolina Panthers
#4 Washington Redskins at #2 Arizona Cardinals
#2 Arizona Cardinals at #1 Carolina Panthers
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers at #3 Cincinnati Bengals
#5 Kansas City Chiefs at #4 Houston Texans
#5 Kansas City Chiefs at #1 New England Patriots
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers at #2 Denver Broncos
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers at #5 Kansas City Chiefs
#1 Carolina Panthers vs. #5 Kansas City Chief
Steelers Win the Super Bowl Over The Seahawks
Rooting For: Seahawks
Chiefs Over Texans
Steelers Over Bengals
Broncos Over Steelers
Chiefs Over Patriots
Chiefs Over Broncos
Seahawks Over Vikings
Redskins Over Packers
Panthers Over Seahawks
Cardinals Over Redskins
Panthers Over Cardinals
Super Bowl 50
Chiefs Over Panthers
Wild Card Weekend
(5) Chiefs Over (4) Texans
(3) Bengals Over (6) Steelers
(5) Chiefs Over (1) Broncos
(2) Patriots Over (3) Bengals
(5) Chiefs over (2) Patriots
Wild Card Weekend
(6) Seahawks Over (3) Vikings
(4) Redskins Over (5) Packers
(1) Panthers Over (6) Seahawks
(2) Cardinals Over (4) Redskins
(2) Cardinals Over (1) Panthers
Super Bowl 50
Chiefs Defeat the Cardinals
Wild Card Round
(6) Seahawks 35 (3) Vikings 10
Seattle is arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now. They went into Minnesota in week 14 of the regular season and blew out the Vikings 38-7. During that game, the Seahawks held the Vikings rushing attack, which had the sixth most rushing yards this season (per ESPN), to just 31 total rushing yards. They also held AdrianPeterson, the leagues leading rusher, to just 18 yards on 8 attempts.
(4) Redskins 28 (5) Packers 21
YOU LIKE THAT! Kirk Cousins is playing like a man possessed. Since week 7, Cousins’ numbers are as follows: 23 touchdown passes, 3 ints, 72.4% completion percentage, and a 119.1 passer rating (per NFL Network). The Redskins steam rolled into the playoffs, having won 5 of their last 6 games. The Packers, on the other hand, are coming off of two brutal losses to the Cardinals and the Vikings. With Eddie Lacy and the running game continuing to struggle, and Aaron Rodgers getting no help from his offensive line or his receivers, the Packers might not have what it takes to derail Washington’s momentum.
(1) Panthers 24 (5) Seahawks 21
While Russell Wilson has easily been playing at the highest level of any quarterback over the past seven weeks, Newton and the Panthers have been getting it done all season long. Time and time again Newton has delivered for the Panthers in key moments, including a fourth quarter comeback victory against the Seahawks in Seattle. The Seahawks’ passing attack will not be as prolific as it as has been over the past few weeks, due to the fact that Josh Norman should be able to limit the damage done by Doug Baldwin.
(2) Cardinals 42 (4) Redskins 14
I’m sorry Kirk, but you probably won’t like this. Washington’s defense ranked 17th in points allowed, 22nd in TD passes allowed, and 25th in passing yards allowed this season (per ESPN). Arizona’s offense scored the 2nd most points, had the 2nd most passing touchdowns, and had the 2nd most passing yards this season (per ESPN). Carson Palmer might have three touchdown passes by half time. Cousins has had a tendency to struggle when trailing early in games, so we might not be seeing him scream into a camera after this matchup.
NFC Championship Game
(1) Panthers 27 (2) Cardinals 24 (Overtime)
These teams are literally neck and neck. The Panthers rank 1st in points scored, 1st in turnover ratio, 11th in total yard, 6th in points allowed, and 6th in yards allowed, while the Cardinals rank 2nd in points scored, 4th in turnover ratio, 8th in total yards, 7th in points allowed, and 5th in yards allowed (per ESPN). Cam Newton will likely be this years MVP, and Carson Palmer will likely be his runner up. Given the fact that Cardinals struggled at home against Seattle in week 17 of the season, and showed that they have flaws on special teams, and the fact that Carolina will be playing at home, the Panthers deserve to be given the edge in this game.
Wild Card Round
(5) Chiefs 17 (4) Texans 13
Kansas City’s defense gave up the third fewest points and the seventh fewest yards in the NFL this season, while Houston’s defense gave up the seventh fewest points and third fewest yards (per ESPN). With neither team ranking higher than nineteenth in scoring (per ESPN), this game will likely be a defensive battle. While JJ Watt is an imposing figure for the Texans and their defense, the Chiefs have a slight edge at the Quarterback position with Alex Smith as their starter. Smith’s only three- touchdown pass game this season came against the Texans on opening day. Although Smith is considered by many to be the epitome of an average NFL Quarterback, he has proven that he can perform at a high level on the big stage. In his three career playoff starts, Smith has posted the follow numbers: 9 passing TD, 0 ints, 873 passing yards, and a 108.6 passer rating (per football reference). It is easy to forget that, if not for Kyle Williams taking a football to the knee, Smith probably would have led the 49ers a Super Bowl appearance during the 2011 playoffs. Perhaps the most redeeming quality for both Smith and the Chiefs is the fact that they do not turn the ball over. The Chiefs had the second fewest turnovers this season, and Smith’s interception percentage of 1.5% was the third lowest amongst NFL starters in 2015, trailing only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers (Per football reference).
(6) Steelers 27 (3) Bengals 20
While Cincinnati’s defense has given up the second fewest points in the NFL this season, the fact that they rank 20th in passing yards allowed demonstrates that they have struggled to defend against the pass. (per ESPN). That is not a formula for success against the passing attack that belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Led by Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and featuring various receiving weapons such as Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, and Heath Miller, the Steelers finished the 2015 regular season with the third most passing yards in the NFL (per ESPN). That feat is even more impressive if you consider the fact the Roethlisberger missed four full games, and parts of two others, due to injury. While the loss of staring running back Deangelo Williams will cause a slight hindrance for the Steelers, their passing game should have the firepower to make up for his absence.
(1) Broncos 24 (6) Steelers 21
To go along with the fact that they gave up the third fewest points this season (per ESPN), the Broncos’ defense was dominant against the pass. No team gave up fewer passing yards, and the 52 sacks that Denver accumulated led the league (per ESPN). While they did surrender 34 points to the Steelers during their regular season matchup, they did so on the road. The Broncos defense was much better at home. Denver gave up 16.1 points per game during home games and 20.9 points per game in road games (per ESPN). Given the fact that Manning will be the starter, despite his struggles throughout the regular season, the Broncos’ quarterback situation may be a cause for concern. However, it is important to remember that the Steelers defense ranked 30th in passing yards allowed (per ESPN). Not to mention, once upon a time, Tim Tebow led the Broncos to a home playoff victory against the Steelers. If he could do it, why can’t an old Peyton Manning?
(2) Patriots 26 (5) Chiefs 17
The Patriots have been arguably the most banged up team this season. With Sebastian Vollmer out and two other linemen questionable to start, New England’s offensive line, which was shaky to begin with, is a major weakness in this matchup. However, one can never discount the greatness of Tom Brady. With home field advantage, a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski, and receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman both set to return, Brady should be able to overcome the injuries and lead the Patriots past the Chiefs.
AFC Championship Game
(1) Broncos 21 (2) Patriots 20
Losing out on home field advantage will come back to haunt the Patriots. Denver’s 30-24 overtime win at home against the Patriots was one of the most thrilling games of the season, and the result of this game will prove to be similar. Denver’s defense will be able to take advantage of New England’s injuries, and in what may be the last head to head matchup between Manning and Brady, Manning will come out on top.
Super Bowl 50
Panthers Over Broncos 20-14
Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense will not have enough firepower to overcome the Panthers defense. While Denver’s defense ranked 1st in yards against, and will keep Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers’ offense in check, Manning and the Broncos’ 22nd ranked offense will have a hard time scoring against Carolina’s 6th ranked defense (Per ESPN). Newton will make a few big plays down the stretch and earn MVP honors.
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