After a historic Wild Card weekend which saw two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time (Tom Brady, Drew Brees) getting bounced by a Miami Dolphins castoff and a quarterback who had never won a playoff game (Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins respectively) we turn our attention to the Divisional round of the playoffs. Here are the Sling TV staff predictions for the rest of the playoffs including our Super Bowl picks. Check the schedule at the end of this article for the NFL Playoffs schedule on Sling.
Johnathon Mendoza – Sling Sports Curator
After a week of rest, the Baltimore Ravens will host the Tennessee Titans, a clash of two high-power offenses led by Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry, respectively. As much as the boys from Nashville are a feel good story, especially finally brining down the Patriots, logic simply implies that the Ravens and their MVP-favorite quarterback take the win. On the other side of the AFC, the Chiefs will decimate a Houston Texans team that narrowly escaped an overtime win against the Buffalo Bills.
Over in the NFC, expect the Green Bay Packers to once again embarrass the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field, led by Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones. The Packers are a legitimate threat to win the NFC. An battle between the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings should see a healthy, rested 49ers team take care of business against the Vikings. I’m picking both the No. 1 and 2 seeds in both conferences to advance.
Of the top four teams to make the conference championships, I could very well see the Baltimore Ravens playing against the San Francisco 49ers, in a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII. This championship is often remembered for the lights in the Superdome mysteriously shutting off shortly after halftime. This season, the NFL’s most talented teams have stood above the rest, and I fully expect that trend to continue for both the No. 1 seeds. The 49ers boast one of the NFL’s top defenses, while the Ravens appear to be unstoppable with Lamar Jackson at the helm.
Jackson’s lack of playoff experience (and his complete meltdown in last year’s playoffs) might be what holds the Ravens back, but the team is buoyed by playoff experience and Super Bowl champions littered throughout the roster. While it’s tempting to pick the 49ers to win the big game, a simple YouTube video of Lamar Jackson’s magical 2019 season reminds me that not a single team in the NFL has found a way to slow down Jackson and the Ravens high-powered offense. I’ll take the Ravens to bring home the Lombardi trophy 34-27.
Mark Schiff – Sling Blog Editor
Bully for the Texans, who rallied to knock off the Bills in the first of Wild Card weekend’s two overtime games. Ditto for the Titans, who may have ended the Patriots nearly two-decade dynasty with their road win in New England. Neither of those teams is getting past Kansas City or Baltimore, respectively.
Things are far more interesting in the NFC Divisional Round. The Seahawks did a marvelous job rebounding from a heartbreaking loss to the 49ers to defeat the Eagles in Philly last weekend. Their reward is a trip to the frozen tundra of Green Bay where they’ll face a Packers team that finished with a 13-3 record under first-year head coach Matt LaFluer. These two teams have a rich history against each other, including the infamous Fail Mary and the thrilling 2014 NFC Championship game. This game could be another classic; both teams are well-balanced on both sides of the ball and are led by Hall-of-Fame QBs. We’re giving the edge to the Seahawks, a battle-tested team that has already won eight road games this season.
Speaking of battle-tested, the 49ers played an absolutely brutal schedule this year and still wound up with the top seed in the NFC. Moreover, their three losses came by a combined 13-points, while their 160-plus point differential was the best in their conference. The Vikings deserve credit for shocking the Saints on the road and they match up well against San Francisco, but the Niners will edge them out down the stretch to advance.
In a match up featuring the two most exciting quarterbacks in the NFL, Kansas City will travel to Baltimore for the AFC Championship Game, a rematch of their Week 3 game which the Chiefs won 33-28. Although Lamar Jackson is the clear MVP this season, the Chiefs’ D has been lights out down the stretch and their big play offense can change games in a hurry. Kansas City is heading to their first Super Bowl in 50 years.
The 49ers and Seahawks have already played twice this season and both games were as close as they come without a tie. With an extra week’s rest and the home crowd cheering them on, San Francisco gets revenge for the 2014 NFC Championship Game and moves on to the Big Game.
Super Bowl LIV should be one for the ages. Both the 49ers and Chiefs have highly creative offenses, and a one game, winner-takes-all format should bring out their boldest, most exotic playcalling. The difference is, San Francisco has an absolutely ferocious pass-rush thanks in large part to presumptive Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa. Kansas City’s explosive offense is an X-factor but San Francisco is a more balanced team. They win a thriller, 37-34.
Scott Ross – Sling Blog Author
The Vikings played great defense and got a little help from the refs in their upset over New Orleans, but the party’s over once the Purple People Eaters get to San Francisco, which has an even better defense and a much better offense. Similarly, the Titans pulled off a huge upset on the road against a legendary QB, but will have nothing more to celebrate as the cold reality of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will grind Tennessee’s season to an end.
Houston D isn’t what it once was and the De-namic Duo of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopikins won’t be enough to overcome Pat Mahomes and Travis Kelce. Seattle is a fraud and barely survived the Eagles last week without Carson Wentz; they have no hope against a healthy and fully operational Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ defense. The following week we’ll see Green Bay get smoked by the Niners yet again and the Ravens will bury the Chiefs somewhere out behind Pimlico.
This one could be interesting. The Ravens didn’t really become the juggernaut they are now until their Week 7 victory over Seattle, a 30-16 win that pushed their record to 5-2. Since then they’ve won nine in a row and the only team to make them sweat was the Niners in Week 13, when Baltimore needed a field goal with three seconds to play to put the finishing touches on a 20-17 win. The Niners held Jackosn to just 105 yards passing and 4.57 yards per attempt, both season lows, and the Niners’ offense outgained the Ravens by nearly 50 yards, but it wasn’t enough.
Since then, SF has gone 3-1, with a stunning loss to Atlanta, while barely surviving the Saints, Rams and Seahawks by a grand total of nine points, while the Ravens have gone 4-0, winning by an average of 15.5 points. Between Lamar Jackson’s ability to cause havoc all over the field and John Harbuagh’s previous Super Bowl experience. He won a title with Joe Flacco at QB for crying out loud. The Ravens will simply be too much: Baltimore 38-17.
Ben Macaluso – Sling Sports Curator
The Seattle Seahawks were less than a yard away from finishing, at the very worst, as the third seed in the NFC Playoffs. Instead the San Francisco 49ers held them to a goal line stand that earned them the number one seed and Seattle dropped all the way down to five. The Seahawks took care of business against a Carson Wentz-less Eagles team in Philadelphia by the same score they beat them in the regular season, 17-9. They earned the privilege of playing football in balmy Green Bay against the Packers. Somehow this might not present a problem for the Seahawks this season.
Seattle set a franchise-record winning seven road games this season and only lost once. At home they went 4-4 where they are historically an excellent road team with an unparalleled 12th-man home field advantage. The Hawks had 11 games where the final was within one score and they only lost two of them. The Seahawks play to the level of their opponent and will show up in any road game and therefore are going to beat the favored Packers and ultimately the 49ers once they easily handle the Minnesota Vikings at home.
No one is expecting the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens to drop their chance to make it to the AFC Championship game and the Seahawks prediction is the only one going out on a limb here in the divisional round. The caveat here is that the Chiefs will finally exercise their playoff demons and reach their first Super Bowl since 1970.
The reason is that Patrick Mahomes has gotten healthy and have a more competent defense than the one they had last year. That’s not to say they will hold back runaway MVP Lamar Jackson (who hasn’t played any football in three weeks) but expect this Chiefs/Ravens matchup to be a shootout similar to last year’s AFC Championship. In a close game, the difference maker will be Mahomes slight playoff experience edge and Andy Reid deserves a break getting past these championship games.
So Chiefs and Seahawks in the Super Bowl. That’s the championship matchup everyone expects right? Russel Wilson has been the runner-up in the MVP conversation and will make this team competitive with the Chiefs with the additions of DK Metcalf and Marshawn Lynch. Their running backs are banged up though and might have to rely on Wilson too much to effectively counterbalance the dynamic attack of Mahomes and the Chiefs.
While the Seahawks have the better defense with Jadeveon Clowney on the edge, the task will be much greater with the Chiefs than it ever was with the Packers or 49ers. The Chiefs defense is just competent and improved enough to not lose this game for Kansas City. The Chiefs will win their second championship and the first of several for Patrick Mahomes. This one won’t even be a one score game. No matter who you are rooting for, we are all winners knowing no one can compete with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira at the Super Bowl.
Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 31 – Seattle Seahawks 20
Real Super Bowl Winners – J. Lo & Shakira