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Ben Rolfe breaks down the NFL playoffs, with a pick for each game in the bracket, including an overall Super Bowl winner

With the NFL playoffs upon us we asked NFL handicapper Ben Rolfe to break down the bracket and give us his selections from the Wild Card Round onwards, and ultimately to crown a Super Bowl champion.

Wild Card Round

Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills

The Colts run game is the offensive formula with which the Bills have struggled this season. The Bills defense is one of the worst units against the run in the league, which could be an issue if the Colts get rolling. However, the Colts defense has also been vulnerable against the pass recently. The Bills are rightly favorite in this one, but they may struggle to cover a 6.5-point spread.

Predicted winner: Buffalo Bills (-300)

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

It is hard to see how the Rams can win this one. Even if they have Jared Goff back, they will be severely restricted in what they can do offensively. The Seahawks will be able to key in on the run game and should be able to keep this offense to 20 points or fewer. Even against a very good Rams defense, the Seahawks should be capable of topping 20 points.

Predicted winner: Seattle Seahawks (-200)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Football Team

In some ways this is a bad matchup for the Buccaneers. Tom Brady’s biggest weakness has always been sustained pressure up the middle, and Washington can supply that. However, Washington likely don’t have the offense to be able to exploit any errors from the Buccaneers. Unless the defensive line can force multiple turnovers and give its offense a short field, the Buccaneers should have enough to emerge victorious.

Predicted winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-357)

Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans

The battle of the two monster run games comes to a head in Tennessee. The Ravens offense actually plays into the hands of the Titans defense somewhat. Their general weakness has been against the passing game, something the Ravens do not excel in. The Ravens have been reasonably good defensively against the run game, but Derrick Henry is a different story. It is hard to win three games in a row against good opposition, and for that reason I have the Ravens springing a surprise.

Predicted winner: Baltimore Ravens (-175)

Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints

The Bears and Saints went to overtime earlier this season, but I expect this one to be different. The Saints should have their full complement of offensive weapons on the field. We saw what a good offense can do to the Bears in Week 17. Meanwhile, the Bears offense will likely struggle against a reasonably stout Saints defense.

Predicted winner: New Orleans Saints (-455)

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

A rematch of Week 17, but with the Steelers back to full strength after resting players. Ben Roethlisberger appeared to be rolling at the end of their Week 16 game and he has had a week off to rest. The Browns offense should move the all on the ground, but they will struggle if the Steelers offense begins clicking. The most likely result here is a narrow Steelers win, but a Steelers blowout win is almost as likely as a Browns win.

Predicted winner: Pittsburgh Steelers (-205)

Divisional Round

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Another rematch for the Ravens, who have lost to the Chiefs in two straight years. While they managed to overcome the Titans in a similar circumstance, it is hard to see them beating the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense appears to play this Ravens offense well, and the Chiefs offense is a relentless machine. The only real concern is if the Chiefs offense shows signs of rustiness.

Predicted winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills

The Bills appear to be a developing into an offensive machine of their own, and the Steelers struggled with them just a few weeks ago. The Steelers offense struggles to move the ball on the ground, which is the best way to attack the Bills. This is a game that either team can win, but the Bills appear to be a team peaking, while the Steelers are trying to stave off a decline.

Predicted winner: Buffalo Bills

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers

What a matchup this promises to be between the Buccaneers and Packers. Brady and Rodgers will steal the headlines, but these teams have a lot of talented pieces. The balance in both of these offenses will test the defenses more than most other tests. The Buccaneers have struggled with the cold, but in Brady they have a man who knows conditions like these. The Buccaneers spring an upset and take down the Packers in a close game.

Predicted winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints

The Saints offense looked much better in Week 17. Meanwhile, the Seahawks offense has been struggling mightily in the final few weeks of the season. This could be a battle between the defenses, and in recent weeks, the Seahawks defense has been the better of the two.

Predicted winner: Seattle Seahawks

Conference Championships

Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Bills struggled mightily the last time they faced the Chiefs. The Chiefs run game was able to dominate the Bills defense, and they should have the ability to do so again. The Bills offense is improved at this point of the season, but they need to be at their very best to hang with the Chiefs. The Chiefs ability to attack on the ground and through the air should give them enough to be able to come out on top.

Predicted winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Even with the way the Seahawks defense is playing, this is a bad matchup for them. Brady is the best quarterback in the business for unpicking blitzes and his eyes will be on Jamal Adams at all times. The Seahawks offense will likely struggle with the Buccaneers defense and top out around 21-24 ponts. That is a total the Buccaneers offense should be able to top.

Predicted winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Super Bowl LV

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This is one of the top matchups the NFL will hope for out of these playoffs. Brady vs. Mahomes once again, but this time on the biggest stage. This could be a matchup with very little in the way of run game success. Therefore, we could see Brady and Mahomes going toe to toe in what should be an epic battle. The Chiefs got the better of the Buccaneers before, but this is a Buccaneers team starting to click. The Buccaneers defense will need to play the Chiefs offense significantly better, but they will have learnt a lot from the previous outing.

Predicted winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1100)

Article Author


Ben is a football guru with years of experience covering the NFL. You can always count on Ben to pick a winner on Sunday!

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