NFL Playoff Predictions including Super Bowl XLVIII Winner (Trifone)
Over the next couple of days, several of our site's contributors will make playoff predictions for the full postseason and below you will find my picks round by round and game by game.
Wild Card Round
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts handled the Chiefs when they played just a couple weeks ago, but I'm going the other way on this one. I'll take the contrarian position and pick against Andrew Luck in this one. Chiefs, 31-28.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are a dangerous team. The Saints, who were 8-0 at home but just 3-5 on the road, are just a different team outside their dome. I'll take the Eagles, 34-28.
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Chargers won four straight down the stretch to get into the playoffs, and it's the win at Denver that really makes me think they could make some noise. I've liked the Bengals all year, though, as one of the most complete teams this year. I'll take Cincinnati, 27-17.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
It was certainly exciting to see Aaron Rodgers back in Chicago this week, and the great finish left us all thinking about how his return may change the complexion of the playoffs. If the Packers win this game, I think they may make a Super Bowl run.
However, I think they will end up losing to a 49er team that has won six in a row, and may be peaking at the right time. Colin Kaepernick has looked better toward the end of the year, and with Michael Crabtree back, I like their chances. Niners, 24-19.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
This one is a toss-up for me, so I'm going to go with the home team. Ultimately, I think that Carolina's defense will fair better against the Eagles offense, than the Eagles defense will fair against Cam Newton and the Panther offense. Panthers, 20-13.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Third time's the charm, right? Not for the Chiefs it won't be. Peyton Manning and the Broncos took care of business in their first two games against Kansas City. I expect more of the same. Broncos, 38-24.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
I'd considered changing my preseason pick of the 49ers to represent the NFC, but in Week 16, Arizona gave me hope that the Seahawks can be beat in their building. I think that this should be the NFC Championship, as I have them as the two best teams (although Carolina is close), but I think San Fran wins a tight one to advance. 49ers, 27-26.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
This is a different matchup with Rob Gronkowski, but I just refuse to believe that even Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can lose who they've lost, and not have it affect them in the playoffs. Although they've had time to adjust to playing without Vince Wilfork on D and Gronk on offense, it doesn't mean that whoever they plug in instead is going to approach those levels of talent. The Bengals beat the Patriots in Cincinnati earlier in the year, and I believe they will go into New England and win again. Bengals, 27-23.
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Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos
If I had more courage, I'd take the Bengals here, but I don't. I think that Manning is on a mission this year, and I think he's going to step up his game in the playoffs. I know that hasn't been his MO in years past, but he has so many weapons on offense that I don't think even a solid D like the Bengals can slow them down enough. Broncos, 38-30.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
The NFC is such a grueling gauntlet of games. To reach the NFC Championship, the 49ers will have had to have won at Green Bay (with Aaron Rodgers) and at Seattle and the Panthers will have to have beaten the Eagles, and now the 49ers if they want to advance to the Super Bowl.
I feel every one of these games could go the other way, setting up completely different matchups, and few people, if any, would be surprised. With two terrific defenses on display, I'm going to take the road team to move on. 49ers, 17-16.
Super Bowl XLVIII
San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos
Truth be told, I want to just pick both teams to win here. The top six or seven teams in the league all have a pretty similar chance of getting to play at MetLife Stadium in February. The Broncos have the most explosive offense in NFL history, while the 49ers have the more complete team. They have a great defense, and an offense that is capable of hanging with anyone. San Francisco was my preseason pick, and I'm going to stick with them. I'll take San Francisco, 38-35.