Last week: 10-6
This week: 6-0
Bengals over Raiders
This seems like an easy game for the Bengals. They beat the Raiders by 19 when they played each other in the regular season, and the Raiders are coming off a grueling Sunday Night Football game against the Chargers that went deep into overtime and now have to play on a Saturday. And on top of that it will be outside in the cold, a situation where Carr has historically struggled.
So, yes, all of that points are why I’m picking the Bengals. But the Raiders were actually pretty close in that regular season game. It was a 16-13 game in the 4th quarter until the Raiders started turning over the ball. So there is some sort of something the Raiders can point to for optimism.
Bills over Patriots
Can you imagine how hyped the Bills would be if this game had happened a couple years ago when the Patriots were still at their peak? Now that they’re back-to-back division champs it won’t be quite as exciting, but I’m sure they’ll still be more than happy to knock the Patriots out of the playoffs.
The Bills should win this game. Ignoring the wind game, in their other matchup the Bills didn’t punt a single time and forced multiple Jones interceptions. In the playoffs the better quarterback usually wins, and the Bills definitely have the better quarterback.
The one issue is the Patriots’ run game. Usually I don’t care about the run, but in this case the Patriots have shown they’re able to do so consistently against Buffalo. In the first matchup the Patriots were able to average a very solid 4.8 yards per run despite not even pretending like they wanted to pass. And in the second game they did even better averaging a Jamaal Charles level 5.5 yards per carry. If Jones can get out of their way that could be the Patriots’ key to victory.
Buccaneers over Eagles
Tampa Bay is a big favorite over Philadelphia, and I can understand why. The Bucs have as good of a resume as anybody while the Eagles have mostly feasted on bottom dwellers (they have no wins over playoff teams). But, while it’s true Tampa Bay will probably win, I think the Eagles have a better chance than people think.
In their game earlier in the season the Eagles were killed by Antonio Brown, allowing 9 catches for 93 yards to him. Chris Godwin also did some damage with 43 yards. Neither of those guys will be on the field this time around, meaning the Brady will need to replace nearly have of his passing yards from that game.
If the Eagles can contain Mike Evans and Gronk they have a good chance of pulling the upset.
Cowboys over 49ers
I thought I was going to be clever in saying this is a game that’s on upset alert, but it turns out a lot of people are actually picking the 49ers to win. I won’t go that far, I still think Dallas is more likely than not to come out on top, but the 49ers do look decent on paper.
The 49ers may only be 10-7, but those wins include a sweep of the Rams and wins over playoff teams in the Eagles and Bengals. Those wins are more impressive than what the Cowboys have, as their only wins over playoff teams are their two victories over the Eagles plus a win over the Patriots.
But when picking games it’s usually best to go with the better quarterback, and there is no question who the better quarterback is in this matchup.
Chiefs over Steelers
The Chiefs are favored, by a lot. But Pittsburgh is a sneaky team. They were 5-5 when underdogs this season, and 4-2-1 when favored, suggesting that they aren’t quite as bad as Vegas thinks.
But most of those games weren’t like this. Of those 10 games, only one of them were they underdogs by more than a touchdown. The one exception? The game against the Chiefs where they were also 12.5 point underdogs and got blown out.
It’s always dangerous to be overly confident, but it’s hard to see how the Steelers can win. Mahomes has destroyed them every time he’s faced them, and our defense is god at stopping the very think the Steelers like to do.
Rams over Cardinals
The Cardinals, after beating the 49ers to get to 9-1, looked dominant and like they were the best team in the NFL. But ever since they’ve gone 2-5, including terrible losses to the Lions, Colts, and Seahawks. Like a reverse version of the Chiefs, Arizona just isn’t as good as they were early in the season.
Stafford may be overrated, but he and the Rams are good enough that he should be able to get his first playoff win.
Cowboys over Buccaneers
Tampa Bay won a close game in the first meeting, but since then have lost two of their top receivers. This game is close, but I give the Cowboys a slight edge.
Packers over Rams
While the Rams aren’t that far off from the Packers, Green Bay has many advantages in this game. Not only do they have extra rest, Los Angeles will be coming off a short week due to the Monday Night Football playoff game. The Rams, who play in a dome in Los Angeles, will also be forced to travel to cold and windy Green Bay.
Add on my go-to quarterback comparison (always go with Rodgers unless he’s playing Mahomes), and the Packers are a straight forward choice.
Titans over Bengals
If the Chiefs reach the AFC Championship Game, and the Titans do not, Kansas City will be the first city to host a conference championship game 4 years in a row. While the Titans aren’t all that strong and are certainly capable of losing, I do think they’re a bit better than the Bengals on average, so unfortunately Nashville will most likely be the next host of the AFC Championship game.
Chiefs over Bills
Normally I’d be very confident that the Chiefs would win this game, as they’re clearly better than the Bills. But that early season game gives me pause. Yes, the Chiefs have made some very real adjustments and are a better team for it, but I’m a big believer in history and that game wasn’t even close.
I’ll still go with the good guys, but I’m not as confident as I should be.
Packers over Cowboys
The Cowboys having playoff success is an NFL fan’s worst nightmare. The media and their bandwagon fans will be insufferable if they even make it this far.
By the way, how do they still have a bandwagon fanbase? The last time they even made it past the divisional round was 1995. Shouldn’t the bandwagon have moved on by now?
Chiefs over Titans
Another game that I’d normally be comfortable with, but the previous result makes me nervous. But beyond that the Titans have shown flashes of being a legit elite team even beyond that game. Normally I’d say the only team that can beat the Chiefs is the Chiefs, but I do think the Titans are capable of putting together a good enough game to win even if the Chiefs don’t beat themselves.
That being said, when you have Mahomes against Tannehill it’s foolish to go against Mahomes.
Chiefs over Packers
The only other team besides the Titans who can legitimately say they’re on the same level as the Chiefs, except they do it much more consistently.
If you believe the NFL fixes games then this is the Super Bowl that will happen. The NFL has been desperate for a Mahomes-Rodgers game for years now, and every time they’ve been thwarted. First by Mahomes’ fluke knee injury, then by Rodgers getting covid and the Packers losing in the NFC Championship last year. If Goodell found a magic genie he’d be wishing for a Mahomes-Rodgers Super Bowl before the genie finished the first verse of the introduction song number.