The NFL Playoffs are here and this year, it seems that every team has a real chance to win it all. With so much parody, our writers all had their picks for who would hoist this year’s Lombardi trophy.
Kaleb: Los Angeles Rams defeat the New England Patriots
Despite the decline from their last few years of dominance, the Patriots are still led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. These two have more playoff experience and success than anyone around, and I’ve learned over the last 5 years to never count out the Patriots, no matter how bad things look.
That being said, the Rams will be the ones to win the Super Bowl. 13-3, the most star-studded roster in the NFL, the league’s best running back AND defensive player, and the genius of Sean McVay that can outsmart the best defenses around. It’s very similar to last year. Not even Tom Brady’s 500 yard airshow was enough to defeat a superior roster AND a smart, young coach. The Rams will just be too much.
Jake: Los Angeles Chargers defeat the New Orleans Saints
No one is beating the Saints in the NFC. Let’s just get that out of the way now. So why the Chargers? To me, the stars have aligned for Phillip Rivers to finally get a ring. Melvin Gordon is back and healthy, but even if he isn’t they still have one of the deepest running back corps in football. LA has the deepest wide receiver corps in the NFL to boot, so any man defense used when trying to stop the run will result in Rivers tossing bombs to any number of open receivers. Hell, they’re even expecting to get TE Hunter Henry back for their playoff run.
The defense is full of talent as well. Derwin James is a favorite for defensive rookie of the year, the combo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is deadly for opposing quarterbacks. I honestly don’t know where this team ISN’T good. The schedule has also aligned perfectly. They get the Ravens first when the weather is supposed to be perfect and they already have a full game of tape on Lamar Jackson, then either the Patriots (who are NOT going to the Super Bowl. It’s just not happening) or a Chiefs squad they’ve split with in the regular season. They could even get a home game in the AFC Championship Game if Indianapolis goes on a tear. Honestly, I just get a “team of destiny” vibe out of the Chargers, and I’m taking them to go all the way.
Ian: New Orleans Saints defeat the New England Patriots
Just putting it out there, I was the only one to get the World Series correct (seriously, check out how we all did here) so that has to mean something, right?
In the NFC, the Saints only really have to worry about the Rams and Bears. We’ve already seen what a matchup between New Orleans and Los Angeles would look like, and I honestly hope we can see a repeat, but we haven’t seen what a matchup between the best defense in football and arguably the best regular season quarterback of all time. Still, I just don’t see the Saints losing. They’re on a mission after last season’s heartbreak, and that alone should put them on top.
In the AFC, it’s a lot tougher. There are juggernauts like Kansas City and the Chargers. There are red-hot teams like Houston, Baltimore, and Indy. And then there’s the Patriots. They aren’t coming in hot (4-3 in their last 7 games, 2-2 in their last 4), they don’t feel dominant, and at a cursory glance you would say Tom Brady is declining. But here’s the thing: look deeper and you see a team built for a Super Bowl run.
The Patriots have the #5 rushing offense, #8 passing offense, #5 total offense, and #4 scoring offense. The defense has the classic Belichick “bend but don’t break” mantra, led by plenty of guys you’ve never heard of and a few key anchors that are all healthy and ready to go. Stephon Gilmore is the lone All-Pro to come from New England this year, but Shaq Mason and Trey Flowers are both underrated talents that shine in their roles. And let’s be real. This is Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. These two are the greatest to ever do what they do, and their legends were built by overcome adversity in the playoffs. I don’t see them beating the Saints in Atlanta, but the Patriots will be going to their 4th Super Bowl in 5 years this year. Prepare for a showdown of legends.
Matthew: Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Kansas City Chiefs
Nick Foles. Next Question.
Trevor: Indianapolis Colts defeat the Seattle Seahawks
The playoffs are all about who is playing the best football, not necessarily who the best teams are. Never has this been more true than this year. The Seahawks have won 6 of their last 7 games behind a dominant running game and Russell Wilson making play after play all game long. Especially in January, super bowl teams need a solid running game. Seattle has the #1 rushing offense and a fairly easy road to Atlanta thanks to the Saints cooling way down since their hot start to the season.
In the AFC, it’s the same thing. The Colts have won 9 of their last 10, and it’s thanks to a few key players and everyone doing their jobs. Andrew Luck is the obvious pick for Comeback Player of the Year, Eric Ebron transformed from bust to stud behind 66 catches, 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson are both amazing.in their rookie seasons. All of this plus a playoff game last week against the Titans is why I’m taking the Colts to win it all, despite the #6 seed.
Nick: New Orleans Saints defeat the Los Angeles Chargers
I don’t think I’ve ever had a harder time picking a Super Bowl matchup than this year. Literally every team (except the Cowboys) has a legit shot at winning it all. In the NFC, I’m going with the Saints. The offense has slowed down a bit in the second half of the season, but Drew Brees is still breaking records left and right, the 1-2 punch of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram can steamroll anyone in their path, and Michael Thomas can give secondaries third-degree burns at will. Also, out of the last 5 Super Bowls, 9 of the 10 participants have been a #1 seed. And, if you’re the superstitious type, the last time the Saints were the #1 seed, they went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl.
The AFC is a toss-up, but I’ll go with the Chargers. I just want to see Phillip Rivers play for the ring he deserves. Still, I just don’t see anyone beating the Saints this year. They’re just too good to waste this golden opportunity.
Chris: Baltimore Ravens defeat the Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are back, and this time they aren’t going to mess up in the first round. Sean McVay is a better coach than he was a year ago, Jared Goff is a better quarterback, and Todd Gurley has had almost a month off to rest and prepare for the playoffs. This is their year to get back to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for them, they won’t win it. The Ravens are the best defense in the league (yes, that includes the bears). They allowed the fewest yards the lowest completion percentage, are top-5 in both passing and rushing defense, and allowed just 4 more points than Chicago over the entire season. Not 4 points per game. 4 points TOTAL. The offense is also white hot. Lamar Jackson has spurred the Ravens on a 6-1 streak with their only loss at the Chiefs thanks to a dominant run game. Baltimore averages 230 yards rushing per game since Jackson took over, with Jackson alone running for 80 yards per game. He’s also been solid in the air, just as a bonus.
Baltimore is the hot hand going into the playoffs, and I’m riding them all the way to Atlanta.
Alex: Houston Texans defeat the New Orleans Saints
Everyone has their own reasons for picking the Saints to at least win the NFC, so I won’t bore you with that. They’re the best team in the NFC and I don’t think it’s all that close. In the AFC, it’s a much different story. Out of all the teams people are picking, I haven’t seen too many take the Texans, and I’m not sure why. Deshaun Watson hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 11 and has only thrown 2 since Week 6. In his last 2 games, he’s found his pre-injury rookie form with 115 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing. The defense allows the fewest yards per rush in the league, meaning they’re perfect to take down teams like Baltimore and New England. And if all of that means nothing, you’ve still got the the best receiver in the NFL (fight me) making circus catches every other game. Arguably their toughest game is the opener against the Colts. Win that, and I see Houston going all the way.
Caleb: New Orleans Saints defeat the Kansas City Chiefs
This one was really tough for me, since the Chiefs and Chargers have been so good and battled so close all year. I give the slight edge to the Chiefs because of just how dominant Kansas City has been this year. Tyreek Hill just can’t be caught if he gets into space. Travis Kelce is just as much of a nightmare for defenses as Gronk was in his prime, and of course there’s Patrick Mahomes, who needs no introduction. In the playoffs, I just don’t see the Chargers defense being able to hold KC back forever, and the Chiefs will come out on top.
This is where, paradoxically, I think the Saints will win. Kansas City’s defense will be able to hold back the Chargers because, as many weapons as they have, the Chargers use them one at a time. It’ll be Melvin Gordon OR Philip Rivers. It’ll be Keenan Allen OR Mike Williams. With the Saints, they can hit you with everything all at once. Drew Brees can pick you apart, but Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will run between the passing plays and keep you off balance all game long. Even the good defenses in the NFL have trouble containing this many weapons. The Chiefs defense will simply be outmatched, and I expect a very underrated Saints defense to rise to the occasion. Drew Brees will finally get that second ring he deserved to win last year.
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