- Green Bay Packers (13-4)
Last Week: 1
The Packers played their first team on Sunday but with little to inspire them, they dropped their season finale. It doesn’t mean much; Green Bay enters the playoffs as the favorite to win not only the NFC but the Super Bowl. They are the most complete team with the fewest major questions as the post season kicks off. Unless Covid gets them, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the NFC wining in Green Bay in the playoffs.
Round 1 Prediction: Bye
- Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
Last Week: 3
The Chiefs have injury concerns as the playoffs begin. Losing home field will cause heartburn if any of their key players are limited or unable to go against Pittsburgh. The Steelers have had some success historically playing in KC, but this Pittsburgh team is not as strong on either side of the ball as prior teams have been.
Round 1 Prediction: Kansas City 34 Pittsburgh 12
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
Last Week: 4
The Panthers served as a nice tune up for the Bucs on their way into the postseason. Bucs fans had to be holding their breath as Mike Evans left the game with an injury. Evans returned shortly thereafter to the great relief of the Tampa faithful. For the Bucs to advance to the big game, Evans will need to produce big numbers, and Rob Gronkowski will need to continue to contribute given the absence of Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. Whatever the Bucs woes are as the playoffs start, this is Brady time, and it’s been proven foolish to underestimate his ability to find ways to win.
Round 1 Prediction: Tampa Bay 27 Philadelphia 13
- Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
Last Week: 2
The Rams had a to win against San Francisco to wrap up the division but could not hold on and backed into the division title with some help from Seattle. With each week this team seemingly becomes more enigmatic with inconsistent play from their quarterback across the board to their star-laden defense. It’s not hard to imagine Los Angeles putting things together and roaring into the Super Bowl, but it’s just as plausible that they get bounced in round one.
Round 1 Prediction: Los Angeles 23 Arizona 14
- Buffalo Bills (11-6)
Last Week: 5
The Bills handled their business against the Jets Sunday to claim the AFC East. Buffalo’s defense enters the playoffs leading the league in total yards allowed per game at just under 273. The Bills are one the league’s most balanced teams with the offense ranked 5th in the league in total yards. The Bills draw archrival New England in round one. In their heart of hearts, I think Buffalo would have rather had some other team come into town for round one. The Bills are too dependent on the creativity and running of quarterback Josh Allen. They don’t get enough from their running backs, tight ends, or wideouts outside of Stephon Diggs to make a serious run. Buffalo is more talented and is a better team than New England, but it is hard to see them advancing much further than round 1.
Round 1 Prediction: Buffalo 17 New England 13
- Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
Last Week: 5
The Cowboys played their starters on Sunday and ripped division rival Philadelphia. On the heels of the disappointing showing against Arizona, the win should boost the Cowboy’s confidence starting the playoffs. Dallas draws an interesting matchup in San Francisco. The Niners third-ranked defense is a worthy adversary for the Cowboy’s top-rated offense. Both teams allow just over 21 points per game, and both run for about 125 yards per game. The Niners are coming in sky high after the huge comeback in Los Angeles.
Round 1 Prediction: Dallas 24 San Francisco 20
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
Last Week: 9
The Bengals have a home playoff game for the first time in forever. It might surprise most fans to learn that the Bengals first-round opponent, the Los Angeles Raiders, are ranked ahead of the Bengals in total offense. These two teams played eight weeks ago with the Bengals hammering Las Vegas to stop a two-game slide. Both teams have improved since that matchup. Cincy has a superstar tandem in rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase and second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. Las Vegas can’t compete with that combination, but gritty starter Derek Carr finds ways to get Las Vegas the points they need to win.
Round 1 Prediction: Cincinnati 31 Las Vegas 20
- Tennessee Titans (12-5)
Last Week: 10
The Titans have found their way to the top seed in the AFC. Derrick Henry has begun working toward re-entering the lineup and will have an extra week to rehab. Tennessee is solid but not spectacular. They will be a popular favorite to pick against, but it will not be easy to eliminate them especially if Henry is back near full strength.
Round One Prediction: Bye
- Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
Last Week: 6
The Cardinals let the division title slip away losing at home to Seattle while the Rams were falling to San Francisco. They have lost four of five and are a shell of what they were earlier in the season.
Round One Prediction: Los Angeles 23 Arizona 14
- Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
Last Week: 10
The Raiders won four straight games to end the season and earn a post season berth. They should be commended on their success given their off-field issues and distractions. Rich Bisaccia deserves consideration for coach of the year honors. Hunter Renfrow is a great story and is emblematic of a team that came from nowhere to compete in the post season.
Week One Prediction: Cincinnati 31 Las Vegas 20