NFL playoff predictions: Who wins Super Bowl 54 in Miami?
Who will be the last team standing?
Seventeen weeks are in the books. The 2019 NFL regular season saw Lamar Jackson emerge as a star, leading the Baltimore Ravens to the best record in the league. It saw the 49ers resurrected as the NFC's best team, thanks to a fearsome front seven and Kyle Shanahan's offensive innovation.
The usual suspects also arrived in January with their playoff tickets punched. The New Orleans Saints once again were one of the NFL's best, while Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers back to the NFC North crown. Yes, Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are back in the dance, but they let a first-round bye slip through their fingers with a loss in Week 17.
The Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles round out the NFC field, while the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans are a part of the AFC field. But who will be the last team standing?
AFC Wild Card Game: No.6 Titans at No. 3 Patriots
The Patriots have shown cracks in their armour this season, as their offense has sputtered down the stretch. They are vulnerable and don't appear to be a legitimate Super Bowl threat.
But Ryan Tannehill is not the one to bring an end to the Patriots season. Especially not in Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots bottle up Derrick Henry, force four turnovers and Tom Brady throws three touchdown passes, all to James White, and the Patriots punch their ticket to Arrowhead Stadium.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Titans 13
AFC Wild Card Game: No. 5 Bills at No. 4 Texans
The Bills proved their worth throughout the course of the season, but is Josh Allen accurate enough with his arm to beat Deshaun Watson on the road? Doubtful.
The Texans control the game throughout, but a number of questionable coaching calls from Bill O'Brien allow the Bills to be within six with under five to play.
With Allen driving the Bills down the field to take the lead, Whitney Mercilus hits him from behind and knocks the ball loose. After the scrum is sifted through, Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham comes out of the pile with the ball and Houston escapes to face the top-seeded Ravens.
Prediction: Texans 23, Bills 17
NFC Wild Card Game: NO. 6 Vikings at No. 3 Saints
Kirk Cousins in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome? There will be no miracle that can save the Vikings from the Saints down on the Bayou.
New Orleans asserts its will early and often, as Alvin Kamara totals 200 yards and the Saints' defense locks up a hobbled Dalvin Cook, forcing three turnovers in a rout.
Prediction: Saints 31, Vikings 13
NFC Wild Card Game: No. 5 Seahawks at No. 4 Eagles
The Seahawks and Eagles faced each other six weeks ago, with Seattle earning a sloppy 17-9 win.
It's hard to beat a team twice on the road, but the Seahawks have enough to take down a hobbled Eagles team that is missing a number of important pieces. Russell Wilson throws for 330 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning strike to Jacob Hollister with under two minutes to play to send the 'Hawks back to San Francisco for another date with the Niners.
Predictions: Seahawks 17, Eagles 13
AFC Divisional Game: No. 4 Texans at No. 1 Ravens
The Ravens ran over the Texans, backed up and ran them over again during their regular-season meeting.
Watson plays much better in the rematch, but the Bill O'Brien looks confused and lost as the Texans are shredded on the ground by Jackson, Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards. Baltimore rushes for 250 yards and controls the game from the opening kick as the Texans are bounced home left to wonder how to take the leap from good to great.
Prediction: Ravens 31, Texans 21
AFC Divisional Game: No. 3 Patriots at No. 2 Chiefs
The Patriots went into Arrowhead last postseason and won the AFC Championship Game in overtime.
This time, there is no Rob Gronkowski to terrorize the Chiefs down the stretch.
But Bill Belichick is a defensive master and has been working on the game plan to slow down Patrick Mahomes and Co.
The game is knotted at 21 entering the fourth quarter. Brady finds Julian Edelman from 11 yards out to take the lead with seven minutes remaining. Mahomes moves the Chiefs quickly into New England territory. On third-and-9 he's flushed from the pocket and throws across his body looking for Tyreek Hill, but the ball is picked off by Patrick Chung.
The Evil Empire lives to fight for another AFC title.
Prediction: Patriots 28, Chiefs 21
NFC Divisional Game: No. 5 Seahawks at No. 1 49ers
The Seahawks beat the 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Week 10. George Kittle was out and Emmanuel Sanders was hobbled.
Both enter the playoffs healthy, while the Seahawks are limping in after grinding out a win over the Eagles.
The Seahawks jump out to a 13-7 halftime lead, controlling the tempo and keeping Jimmy Garoppolo off the field.
Shanahan flips the script in the second half as the 49ers win the third quarter 14-3 to take a 21-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
Seattle's defense gets Russell Wilson the ball back with three minutes to play. On fourth-and-6 from the 49ers' 31-yard line, DeForest Buckner breaks through the line and tracks down Wilson, setting off a massive party in Santa Clara.
Prediction: 49ers 21, Seahawks 16
NFC Division Game: No. 3 Saints at No. 2 Packers
It's a snowy frigid day at Lambeau Field. Bad news for Drew Brees and Co., right?
Not so fast, these aren't the soft Saints of yesteryear.
Cameron Jordan and the Saints' defense hit Aaron Rodgers early and often. Brees hits Michael Thomas for 17-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Rodgers responds by connecting with DaVante Adams for a 22-yard strike to even the game with 2:43 to go.
The Saints grind the Packers defense and the clock up, marching down to the Green Bay 21-yard line, setting up a game-winning field goal for Will Lutz that he splits to silence the state of Wisconsin.
Prediction: Saints 17, Packers 14
AFC Championship Game: No. 3 Patriots at No. 1 Ravens
The Patriots are the Patriots, yes. But the Ravens have that team of destiny feel, and in order to be the team of destiny, you have to go through the kings.
Belichick's defense chases its tail, and Jackson all day long, but can't figure out how to corral the league MVP. Jackson and the Ravens take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
But in order to kill Brady, you have to go for the head.
Brady finds Edelman and N'Keal Harry for touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game.
After the two teams traded field goal, Jackson chews up the Patriots defense, marching the Ravens 75 yards on 12 plays over 5:17, culminating in an 8-yard rushing touchdown to send the Ravens to Miami.
Prediction: Ravens 31, Patriots 24
NFC Championship Game: No. 3 Saints at No. 1 49ers
Everyone is thirsting for the Ravens-49ers rematch in Super Bowl LIV, but Drew Brees has legacy cementing on his mind.
Brees carves up the 49ers, throwing for 365 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers' offense never gets going and the 49ers' dream season crashes in flames one game short of a trip to South Beach,
Prediction: Saints 31, 49ers, 17
Super Bowl LIV: Saints vs. Ravens
Destiny vs. Legacy meet in South Beach with a Lombardi Trophy on the line.
Lamar and Brees trade blows as the teams are tied 24-24 at halftime.
The Ravens open the second half with gains of 24, 17 and 22 on the ground before Jackson hits Mark Andrews for a 14-yard score to take the lead. The Saints answer right back as Alvin Kamara takes a pass out of the backfield 44 yards to tie the game at 31.
But Jackson won't be denied, engineering a 13-play, 81-yard drive to soak up 8:24 of the fourth quarter, culminating in a 2-yard run by Ingram to take the lead.
With 1:41 left, Brees gets the Saints to midfield, but is picked off by Marcus Peters on third-and-5 to seal the Super Bowl part in Charm City.
Prediction: Ravens 38, Saints 31