NFL Playoff Predictions: AFC Wild Card

NFL Playoff Predictions
Spread the love

The NFL regular season is over, which means it’s time for playoff predictions. The postseason officially kicks off on Saturday, and betting sites have already released the opening spreads. Due to there being six games, I have broken this article into two pieces. This section will cover the upcoming slate of AFC games. 

NFC Wild Card Predictions

AFC Wild Card Round: NFL Playoff Predictions With Spread

Kansas City Chiefs (-13) vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin deserves to be in the thick of the Coach of the Year race for getting this roster to the playoffs. Much like 2015 Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger is clearly a shell of his former self, and this offense can barely move the ball. The defense is good, but it’s not as great as it was in 2020. The team deserves credit for making it this far, but this Cinderella story is coming to an end on Sunday. 

The Kansas City Chiefs are…well, the Kansas City Chiefs. Even with a (relatively) inconsistent offense, this team is still among the best in the league, and clearly superior to Pittsburgh. The defense has come on hot in the second half, and Roethlisberger and company aren’t exactly sending fear into any defensive units. 

The Chiefs will win, but I cannot get myself to bet on a spread this large. Parity is king in the NFL, and any team theoretically could beat any other on any given Sunday. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Chiefs pummel the Steelers, but I never feel good about betting on a blowout. 

Prediction: Chiefs win, don’t cover spread

Buffalo Bills (-4.5) vs New England Patriots

After two decades atop the AFC East, the New England Patriots are now the plucky underdogs trying to upset the division champion Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs. The teams split their matchups during the regular season, but one of those games came in a blizzard where completing a forward pass was basically impossible. In the other game, Buffalo comfortably won on the road by a final margin of 33-21.

Assuming normal weather conditions, the Bills should win this one pretty comfortably. Mac Jones had a strong rookie season, but the Alabama product has looked objectively bad over the last month of the season in the cold. It’s January in Buffalo, so you can get it’s going to be a little chilly. Looking beyond the quarterback, the defense is good (but not great) and the team has made plenty of uncharacteristic mental errors throughout the season. If they haven’t fixed those by now, then it’s hard to imagine them fixing it in the playoffs with only one week of preparation.

Josh Allen and the Bills, meanwhile, have played some of their best football over the past few months. The quarterback proved that 2020 wasn’t a fluke, and the defense is just as good as New England. The Bills are also a lot better than their record, as they finished the season 0-5 in one-score games. Patriots fans should be happy that their team made it this far with a rookie quarterback, but the Bills are just the better team. 

Prediction: Bills win, cover spread

Cincinnati Bengals (-6) vs Las Vegas Raiders

Wrapping up these NFL playoff predictions is the battle between two long-struggling franchises. The Las Vegas Raiders had to deal with a LOT of drama throughout their season, and it’s a minor miracle that a team could overcome that type of noise and make the playoffs. The biggest reason they were able to do this is that they were unsustainably lucky in one-score games.

The Raiders finished the season with an 8-2 record in one-score games, including a 4-0 record in overtime. That sort of thing just isn’t sustainable and makes them look a lot better than they actually are. In reality, this is an average to slightly below-average football team that snuck their way into football’s ultimate tournament. 

The Bengals, meanwhile, are in the midst of a fantastic run of success. Joe Burrow has played like an MVP candidate in the back half of the season, Ja’Marr Chase simply cannot be covered, and Tee Higgins might be the best WR2 in the world. Yes, the offensive line needs some work, but the Bengals should still move the ball with ease against this pedestrian defense. 

Prediction: Bengals win, cover spread

NFC Wild Card Predictions

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images