Reign in 2019! The New Year always has the smell of the NFL postseason. No, it's not 64 college basketball teams in March, but I am going to give a bracketology all the way to Super Bowl LIII.
Wild Card Round
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
After sitting at 6-7 in the midst of a Super Bowl hangover, Philadelphia hero Nick Foles was implemented while Carson Wentz nursed a lower back injury. The Eagles scored over 30 points against the Rams, the 19th ranked defense and the Texans, the 12th ranked defense. Although it should be a good fight, the magic with Foles has to end sooner than later. The Bears defense is too good and QB Mitchell Trubiski has the best QBR rating in the NFL since week 4. The Bears' defense will get the necessary stop at the end of the game to squeeze out a win and crush all hopes of a Philadelphia repeat.
Bears 21, Eagles 17
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
When the Seahawks won this matchup in week 3 it was in Seattle. Without the 12th man it is going to be hard for Seattle to march into Dallas and not be phased. Seattle has four road wins this season and they were all against teams that did not finish over .500. Dallas had one home loss this season against Tennessee. Both teams rely on their defense and the edge goes to Dallas. Look for Russell Wilson to extend plays and look down the field to Tyler Lockett while avoiding the Cowboys' front four led by Dmarcus Lawrence. However, when both teams need to get in the end zone in what should be a low scoring game, Dak Prescott can turn to Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper which are better options than what Seattle has.
Cowboys 17, Seahawks 14
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles started 11-1 but after the Monday Night Football shootout against Kansas City, QB Jared Goff has not been the same. In the two losses against Chicago and Philadelphia he was last in passer rating and only threw one touchdown with six interceptions. In Week 17 he returned to form completing 19 of 24 passes for 216 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the 31-9 win over the Cardinals. Last time these two met the Chicago stopped Goff and RB Todd Gurley to 11 carries and 28 yards. In today's football offense beats defense. The Rams will watch the film from week 14 and figure out how to get Gurley in the end zone. The Bears are fun and their time is coming soon, just not this year.
Rams 24, Bears 21
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
The Saints are the most complete team in the NFC. With the game in New Orleans, MVP candidate Drew Brees will show why he is one of the of all time greats and they will be looking for revenge after failing to reach the NFC championship last year due to the "Minneapolis Miracle" loss. Dallas won this matchup at home during the regular season, but now on the road the Cowboys' aren't good enough to emulate what they did in week 13.
Saints 35, Cowboys 14
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints.
In week 9 the Saints won this matchup 45-35 at home. If the bracket is still perfect at this time, expect the same type of high scoring game. Goff will try expose the Saints' biggest weakness, their backfield. As a team the Saints have seven total interceptions on the season which is tied for the second least in the NFL. However, the Rams' defense is not solid enough to stop Drew Brees, WR Michael Thomas and running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Los Angeles is 18-0 when Aaron Donald has a sack and 5-7 when he doesn't. Donald had 20.5 sacks, 16 more than Ndamukong Suh who was second on the team. The Saints will find a way to win especially in the dome.
Saints 38, Rams 33
Wild Card Round
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
This is a really tough game to choose. Andrew Luck has 39 touchdown passes this season and is the favorite to win the NFL comeback player of the year award. However, the Texans flew under the radar finishing the season 11-2 after starting 0-3. Even though Deshawn Watson has been sacked the most amount of times in the NFL, his mobility is so strong that he can extend plays where it does not matter that his o-line is that bad. Not to mention that WR Deandre Hopkins and J.J. Watt also play for Houston which should never be overlooked.
Texans 31, Colts 28
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens
Former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson has rejuvenated the Ravens. At 21 years and 364 days, Jackson will become the youngest quarterback ever to start an NFL playoff game. He can rush better than he can throw the ball! In college RB Saquon Barkley ran for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns and Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards with 50 touchdowns. In week 16 the Ravens won this matchup 22-10 on the road. Despite Los Angeles having to travel 3,000 miles, I still see them winning this game. They will fix what they did wrong two weeks ago and learn to contain Jackson in the run game. It is amazing how great Jackson has been, it just seems unlikely for a 21-year-old rookie to defeat a team that could have been a no.1 seed in the AFC, but do not rule out Jackson shocking the world.
Chargers 28, Ravens 21
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Can Houston pull it out on the road against Belichick and Brady? My heart tells me Texans but my head tells me Patriots. New England is not the team they once were, but they will pull this one out. Houston is a good team but with their 11 wins, only two came against playoff teams and that was Dallas in week 5 and Indy in week 4. Both of those games were won by a field goal in OT. Houston does not have enough of a pedigree to win past the first round.
Patriots 31, Texans 17
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
There are many reasons to doubt the Chiefs. Yes, 50 touchdown and 5,000 yard man Pat Mahomes will most likely win MVP, but they can't get a defensive stop in a big moment. Their offense took a big step back with Hunt no longer on the team, and who knows if WR Sammy Watkins will be healthy by game time. TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill should be enough weapons for Kansas City to get a playoff win. The Chargers do know how to win on the road considering all their home games are essentially road games. In Arrowhead during week 15, Los Angeles became the first team in NFL history to win after being down 14 points with less than 4 minutes left. The Chargers will be fatigued from traveling over 4,500 miles on the road. The Chiefs will have their revenge from three weeks ago.
Chiefs 31, Chargers 28
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
The Patriots have many flaws. Tom Brady and Gronk aren't what they used to be and now they march into Arrowhead for a chance to get to their third straight Super Bowl. With all the doubts, the way the bracket falls this year Brady pulls off the miracle. As stated before, the Chiefs' defense can not get big stops in big games and the loss of Hunt really hurt them. Andy Reid has one playoff win in his tenure with Kansas City. They will eventually figure out a way to get there but with Mahomes being in his first full year there is still more to learn. Problem is they are going up against the professors of how to win.
Patriots 31, Chiefs 27
New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots.
You no longer need Eli Manning to beat the Patriots. Sean Payton will utilize his run game and Drew Brees will look to use Michael Thomas all over the Patriots' secondary. The Saints' defense is good enough to stop RB James White and their sub-par secondary will be able to limit over-the-hill Gronk and Julian Edelman. Similar to last year, Brees will get the go-ahead touchdown late and New Orleans will hold Brady in his final possession.
Saints 45, Patriots 38