Four months ago, I predicted the New Orleans Saints to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Bowl LIII. And with the NFL Playoffs finally here, I’m sticking with that prediction. One year after picking two teams that ended up in the Top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft (Giants and Raiders) to reach the Super Bowl, both of my conference champions finished with 12+ wins and made the playoffs. As for the rest of my 2019 NFL Playoff Predictions? You’ll just have to continue reading to find out.
(All rankings come from Football Outsiders DVOA Metrics, which can be found here: www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/)
WILD CARD ROUND
No. 6 Indianapolis Colts over No. 3 Houston Texans. With a healthy Andrew Luck, the Colts offense is once against among the best in football. And while DeShaun Watson might be able to go toe to toe with Luck, poor offensive line play has hampered what should be one of the best offenses in football. In what should be a high-scoring affair, Luck outduels Watson for the victory.
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers over No. 4 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens got the better of the Chargers two weeks ago, but this time, Anthony Lynn and the Chargers’ defense will be better prepared. Though one of the best defenses in football will still give the Chargers’ 13th-ranked offensive line trouble, Philip Rivers and the Chargers will score just enough to edge Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
No. 3 Chicago Bears over No. 6 Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are once again underdogs, but Nick Foles’ playoff magic will end against the best defense in football. Mitchell Trubisky should be able to get going through the air against a banged-up Eagles’ secondary, while Khalil Mack comes up big in his first playoff game as a Bear to give Chicago the victory.
No. 5 Seattle Seahawks over No. 4 Dallas Cowboys. Outside of their fifth-ranked rushing defense, the Dallas Cowboys aren’t too scary of a playoff opponent. The Seahawks should be able to slow down Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys’ 19th-ranked rushing attack, while Russell Wilson makes some plays against Dallas’ 16th-ranked pass defense to pull the upset in Arlington.
No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Indianapolis Colts. The 20th-ranked pass defense in the NFL is not going to be good enough to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. With the No. 1 offense in football, but the 17th-ranked defense, Mahomes and co. will need to outscore their playoff opponents – not that that should be much of an issue. Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce prove to be too much for the Colts, winning in yet another shootout.
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers over No. 2 New England Patriots. While the Patriots didn’t lose at home this season, this New England team is nowhere near as scary as years past. The Chargers are better on both sides of the ball, and with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa off the edge, they can pressure Tom Brady with just four rushers. Look for Brady to make a few uncharacteristic mistakes as Rivers and the Chargers pull off the upset in Foxboro.
No. 1 New Orleans Saints over No. 5 Seattle Seahawks. It’s one thing to go into Jerry World and pull the upset, but it’s another thing entirely to do it again in the Superdome. Wilson and the Seahawks just don’t have enough firepower to keep up with Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, etc., while the Saints’ defense should keep Wilson, with his putrid offensive line, under duress enough to make a few mistakes in a New Orleans victory.
No. 2 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Chicago Bears. The Bears took down the Rams on Sunday Night Football earlier this season, but that was at Soldier Field in the cold. In Los Angeles, Jared Goff and the Rams should have less trouble offensively, while Aaron Donald and the Rams can pressure Trubisky into a few too many mistakes to give the Rams the playoff victory.
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers over No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers figured out the formula to slow down the Chiefs in Week 15, and they’ll need to find it again if they want to reach the Super Bowl. Offensively, Los Angeles shouldn’t have much trouble against a porous Kansas City defense, while Bosa, Ingram and Derwin James get just enough stops against Andy Reid and Mahomes to send the Chargers to Atlanta.
No. 1 New Orleans Saints over No. 2 Los Angeles Rams. The Rams have the offense to keep with the Saints, but defensively, the 9th-ranked pass defense and 28th-ranked rush defense isn’t going to cut it against Sean Payton and a loaded New Orleans’ offense. In a battle of two heavyweights, Brees outduels Goff, and the Saints’ defense makes enough plays to book a trip to the Super Bowl.
SUPER BOWL LII
New Orleans Saints over Los Angeles Chargers. Philip Rivers and the Chargers finally reach the Super Bowl, but Los Angeles’ offensive line woes finally come back to bite them against one of the better pass rushes in football. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport provide enough pressure on Rivers, while Brees spreads the ball around to claim his second Super Bowl title.
- Super Bowl MVP: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
- Offensive MVP: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Defensive MVP: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
- Coach of the Year: Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
- Comeback Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts