NFL playoff predictions - Forecasting the postseason, including Super Bowl contenders, upset picks and impact players

It’s playoff time in the NFL, and 14 groups all have an opportunity to win Super Bowl LVI. It starts this weekend with 6 wild-card video games, prior to the winners sign up with the Packers and Titans in the divisional round next weekend. Anything can take place in the NFL playoffs. Just ask the Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl a year ago out of the NFC’s No. 5 seed, winning 3 roadway video games en path to their title. So how will the next couple of weeks play out? Will favorites measure up to their expectations, or will underdogs manage some not likely upsets?

We asked 15 of our NFL experts for their finest forecast for the postseason as an entire and what will take place in the video games leading up to the Super Bowl. Which group is finest established to win everything, and who will assist them arrive? Will it be Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or somebody else blazing a trail in the NFC? And will the Titans hold back lots of gifted AFC groups? Let’s forecast this season’s playoffs, beginning with how far the AFC’s top-seeded group can go.

Are the Titans the leading AFC competitor?

Sam Acho, NFL expert: I’m doubling down on my midseason choice. After 3 wins to end the routine season and a 12-5 record, Tennessee will reach the Super Bowl. And it will not be the only No. 1 seed. I got the Packers and Aaron Rodgers fulfilling the Titans in the most significant video game of the year.

Stephania Bell, NFL dream expert: The Titans will win the AFC Championship with a run-heavy offense behind the return of Derrick Henry. For those who might discount the concept of a modern-day offense that ranks near the bottom of the league in pass-play portion going all the method to the Super Bowl, may I provide to you the 2018 Patriots? Yes, they had this man called Tom Brady, however they likewise ran the ball 43.1% of the time, 5th in the league that year. The 2021 Titans hurried on a league-high 46.1% of plays, and they did it without Henry for half their video games after he suffered a considerable foot injury. The return of Henry includes power to their run video game and an enormous red zone danger on the ground (10 TDs prior to his injury), which will show to be excessive for the Titans’ AFC challengers.

Jeremy Fowler, NFL writer/reporter: Henry will get right where he ended and lead the playoffs in hurrying. Rarely does a star gamer have 2 months to rest his legs prior to the postseason, specifically a 247-pound back with a 2,000-yard season on his résumé. The No. 1 seed Titans fought through injuries and are all set for January football, which indicates Henry will be touching the ball 20 or more times. I’m uncertain I’m all set to put Ryan Tannehill in the Super Bowl, however this group has the active ingredients to arrive behind Henry, receiver A.J. Brown and an opportunistic defense.

Can the Bills or the Chiefs return to the AFC Championship Game?

Dan Graziano, NFL writer/reporter: The Bills will play in the Super Bowl. This is a group that has actually been together for a while now, and they still sting from in 2015’s AFC Championship Game loss in Kansas City and yearn for a chance to avenge it. The Dec. 26 video game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, was a turning point for their season. Running back Devin Singletary informed me, “We knew we have what it takes to get where we want to go, but that game just gave us even more confidence and made us more hungry.” The Bills’ run video game remains in a far better location than it was this time last season, which must assist offending planner Brian Daboll prevent the trap of being too one-dimensional. And I do not believe individuals truly value how excellent their defense is under Leslie Frazier. I understand it was the Jets and their season was over (Week 18), however holding another expert football group to 53 overall backyards of offense in a video game is truly something. This group is well coached, thinks in itself, has actually the league’s most weather-proof quarterback and has been developing towards this for a couple of years now. I state they cash it in.

Jason Reid, senior author at The Undefeated: Kansas City will advance to its 3rd successive Super Bowl by beating Tennessee in the AFC Championship Game at Tennessee. A 34-31 roadway loss to Cincinnati in Week 17 expense Kansas City the conference’s No. 1 seeding and an opportunity to host the AFC title video game for an extraordinary 4th straight season. But there’s still plenty to like about the Chiefs, beginning with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The super star found out to run more patiently this season while groups were content to play Cover 2 and hardly ever blitz him, intending to prevent quiting the huge plays that have actually specified the historical start to his profession. But the Chiefs’ most significant turn-around took place on defense. Often overmatched throughout the group’s 3-4 start, Kansas City’s defense offered the structure to its eight-game winning streak. During that cover, the Chiefs permitted the least points per video game (12.9) and had the most takeaways (21) in the NFL.

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Marcus Spears admires Andy Reid for the task he’s done training the Chiefs this season.

Seth Walder, analytics author: The winner of the Bills-Chiefs divisional-round match will win the Super Bowl. Per ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), they’re the 2nd- and third-best groups in the league, respectively. The Bills boast the very best point differential in the league and the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes at quarterback — either is a fantastic indication for a deep playoff run. And while I’m still a follower in Tampa Bay, and it is FPI’s No. 1 group, the design does not understand that of the trio of fantastic pass receivers the Bucs started the season with, just Mike Evans is still healthy and on the lineup.

What can we anticipate out of the Cowboys and Bengals?

Matt Bowen, NFL expert: Cowboys security Jayron Kearse will be a difference-maker in the playoffs. Dallas has playmakers at all 3 levels of Dan Quinn’s defense in Demarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs. But do not ignore Kearse. He’s a long, rangy security with flexible characteristics, and in Quinn’s man-heavy system, Kearse is the tight end match gamer. First up for Kearse: the 49ers’ George Kittle.

Mike Clay, NFL expert: The Cowboys and Bengals will each win several championship game and are legitimate competitors to represent their conference in the Super Bowl. Dallas is No. 1 in the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, 5th in offending ratings and 6th in goals permitted. The Cowboys have among the league’s inmost and most gifted offenses, in addition to a breakout defense. And the Bengals are playing their finest ball of the season, and if they beat the Raiders and things break best, their course to the title video game might consist of a journey to Tennessee in the divisional round and a rematch with a Chiefs team they beat while accumulating 34 points simply 2 weeks earlier. With a strong defense and quarterback Joe Burrow playing at a high level, Cincinnati would take a crack at to win all 3 video games.

Eric Moody, fantasy/sports wagering author: The Bengals will reach the Super Bowl. During Weeks 16 and 17, Burrow passed for 971 backyards and 8 goals, assisting Cincinnati to the AFC North title. With favorable momentum, a QB who stands out under pressure to conquer average offending line play, an offense that makes use of a trio of gifted receivers (Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd) to threaten opposing defenses vertically and a defense that can use constant pressure with only 4 linemen, the Bengals have all of the aspects required to compete for the Super Bowl.

Mike Tannenbaum, NFL expert: Dallas will go on a run and win a minimum of 2 — and possibly 3 — video games. The Cowboys are constructed for the playoffs and have 3 elite pass-rushers in Lawrence, Parsons and Randy Gregory. If their offending line is healthy (most especially Tyron Smith), they’ll be excellent on offense and elite on defense.

Will the Packers measure up to the buzz?

Doug Kezirian, sports wagering expert: The Packers are the wagering favorite for excellent factor. The NFC when appeared like an onslaught, however the warts have actually emerged with disparity and injuries. And the AFC has plenty of doubtful competitors. I anticipate Green Bay to raise the Lombardi Trophy, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still playing the position perfectly.

Field Yates, NFL expert: The Packers will hold serve in the house this time around, advancing to a Super Bowl champion. This isn’t precisely going out on a limb, however this group feels various from in 2015’s version that marched into the playoffs with grand expectations. With Green Bay’s well balanced offense and a defense that might return several essential beginners (consisting of pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander), count me amongst those anticipating the Pack to play in SoFi arena in mid-February.

Seth Wickersham, NFL writer/reporter: This is simply an inkling, however I’m forecasting that this will be the last playoff run for 3 future Hall of Fame quarterbacks with their existing groups. We understand that the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger will retire. But I believe Tom Brady will, too. And lastly, Aaron Rodgers will leave Green Bay after another season without reaching the Super Bowl.

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Domonique Foxworth describes why he might see Aaron Rodgers retiring quickly and after that choosing to come back later on down the roadway.

Tom Brady’s Bucs back in the Super Bowl?

Anita Marks, fantasy/sports wagering expert: It will be Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. The just 2 wild-card video games that I have conviction in are the Bengals over the Raiders and the Chiefs over the Steelers. The staying matches are tossups to me, so to take an expression from Jalen Rose: Let’s provide individuals what they desire. I believe the Patriots are a total group. They can pound the rock in the 4th quarter on Saturday night versus Buffalo, and after that they would compare well versus the Titans and Chiefs en path to the Super Bowl. And in the NFC, Brady and the Buccaneers might see the Eagles, Rams and Packers in their course to the Super Bowl — and they have the lineup to upset Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

Jordan Reid, NFL draft expert: Brady will assist the Buccaneers end up being the very first back-to-back Super Bowl champs considering that the Patriots in 2004 and 2005 — who likewise had Brady at the helm. At 44 years of ages, he simply had probably among the very best seasons of his profession with a league-high 5,316 passing backyards and 43 goals. Tampa Bay is riding a three-game winning streak getting in the playoffs, and regardless of not making the No. 1 seed, Brady has the needed experience — even in the aspects must they see the Packers at Lambeau Field.

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