Tag Archives: NFL Playoffs

Super Bowl LVI Prediction

By NFL Correspondent D.Higgins

We have come to my final NFL predictions article — it’s Super Bowl time!

Two weeks ago, I shared my predictions for the NFC and AFC championship games. Let’s see how I did:

Prediction: Chiefs 35 – Bengals 24

Actual Score: Bengals 27 – Chiefs 24 (OT)

Comments: The Chiefs took their foot off the gas and blew a 21-3 lead, shockingly dropping a home playoff game against the underdog Bengals. Cincinnati, who won just 6 games combined from 2019-2020, now has a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988, when they lost to the Montana & Rice 49ers.

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Prediction: Rams 31 – Niners 24

Actual Score: Rams 20 – Niners 17

Comments: In a great defensive battle, the Rams prevailed, coming from behind to win the NFC and host Super Bowl LVI thanks to a 13-point comeback after falling behind 17-7 as the fourth quarter began. QB Matthew Stafford threw for 337 yards on 31-for-45 passing. In a 17-17 tie with about 6:30 to go, the Rams marched down field for Matt Gay to kick the eventual game-winning 30-yard field goal.

In the Championship Round, I went 1-1, and overall, my playoff predictions sit at an even 6-and-6. I guess Super Bowl LVI is the tiebreaker! Let’s get to my pick.

Super Bowl LVI

Prediction: Rams 27 – Bengals 24

The Super Bowl returns to Los Angeles where it all began, and for the first time since 1993’s game at The Rose Bowl.

I think this one is going to be a tight game and a classic. The Rams have the Los Angeles home crowd on their side and the better postseason experience. Joe Burrow and the Bengals had a great season and should be proud of how quickly they turned into an AFC powerhouse, but it is the Rams’ time. I think head coach Sean McVay makes all the right calls, and Von Miller, Aaron Donald, and the Rams defense makes the perfect stops at the perfect times.

Of course, in all honesty, I wouldn’t be sad one bit if the Bengals pull through and win this game. It’s hard to root against either team. I’m a Dodgers fan first and foremost, so I always love to root for the Los Angeles teams. But with a young and exciting Joe Burrow at quarterback, a wide receiver named Tee Higgins (my distant cousin, perhaps?), and memories of the Ickey Shuffle, one can’t help but load up on some Skyline Chili and holler “Who dey?” every time the Bengals score.

Still, it feels like the Rams’ time, who have never won a Super Bowl in Los Angeles (the St. Louis Rams beat the Titans in 1999 in Super Bowl XXXIV, and L.A. won a pre-Super Bowl Championship in 1951 over the Browns).

Crank up the Randy Newman, fire up some street dogs, and get ready to party, L.A., because the Rams will be the Super Bowl Champions. 

NFL Conference Championship Predictions

By NFL Correspondent D.Higgins

Divisional Round Recap

Last week, I made my Divisional Round predictions. Let’s see how (terribly) I did:


Prediction: Bengals 24 – Titans 21

Actual Score: Bengals 19 – Titans 16

Comment: This is the only game I got correct! Even though quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked nine times and threw one interception, he still threw for 348 yards on 28 of 37 passing and led the Cincinnati offense. Their defense did the rest, holding Tennessee to just 16 points, and forcing them to go just 1 for 8 on third down conversions.

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Prediction: Bills 38 – Chiefs 28

Actual Score: Chiefs 42 – Bills 36 (OT)

Comment: It was a high-scoring game, as I predicted, but the Chiefs simply out-dueled the Bills in one of the greatest NFL Playoff games of all time. This game was 26-21 in favor of the Chiefs with less than 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. In a final, insane flurry, both teams traded punches and spectacular plays (or was it defensive breakdowns?) until the score was tied 36-36 at the end of regulation. The Bills (whose 422 yards of total offense was still not enough) lost the coin toss to begin overtime, and QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs did their thing, taking just 8 plays in 4 minutes to march downfield and score the game-winning touchdown.

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Prediction: Packers 31 – Niners 24

Actual Score: Niners 13 – Packers 10

Comment: In a surprisingly low-scoring game, the San Francisco defense held the powerful Green Bay offense to just 263 total yards. The 49ers were even worse at just 212 yards on offense, but they ended up with the ball on the final possession, which ended on a Robbie Gould 45-yard field goal to win it after a 9 play, 44-yard drive. Quarterback Aaron Rogers and the Packers just never got going, leaving Rogers’ future as a Packer in doubt.

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Prediction: Buccaneers 27 – Rams 17

Actual Score: Rams 30 – Buccaneers 27

Comment: This was the third game that ended in a game-winning, walk-off field goal, as the Rams recovered to beat Tampa Bay after nearly blowing a 27-3 lead in the 3rd quarter. Teams know that they can’t give Tom Brady a second chance, because he will always take advantage of it. Brady threw the ball a startling 54 times, completing 30 of them for 329 yards. But Matthew Stafford outdid the GOAT, going 28 for 38 and 366 yards, throwing 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. His biggest pass was to Cooper Kupp with just enough time left to spike the ball and get a Matt Gay 30-yard field goal to secure a championship game for the Rams.

Overall, I went a lousy 1-3, but I am happy to have been wrong on the Rams, as we have an L.A. vs San Francisco match-up in the NFC to look forward to now. 

*AFC and NFC Championship Games*

AFC: Bengals @ Chiefs

Sunday, Jan. 30, 12pm on CBS

Why does this feel like the Chiefs will beat the pants off the Bengals? Cincinnati has a similarly good defense (allowing 350.8 yds/game and 22.1 points/game vs the Chiefs 368.9 yds/game and 21.4 points/game); and their powerful offensive attack featuring QB Joe Burrow are not too far off either (Cincy averaged 361.5 yds/game and 27.1 points/game against 396.8 yds/game and 28.2 points/game for the Chiefs).

Still, as much as I like the Bengals’ underdog story and rooting for a player named Higgins, I think the experience of Kansas City wins out, especially combined with the versatility of their offense, led by QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce. Look for the Chiefs to win the AFC and play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Prediction: Chiefs 35 – Bengals 24


NFC: 49ers @ Rams

Sunday, Jan. 30, 3:30pm on FOX

It’s time for L.A. vs San Francisco, again. Last time, the Dodgers beat the Giants in MLB’s 2021 NLDS. This time it’s the Rams’ turn to advance, but it won’t be easy. The Rams have not beaten the 49ers since 2018.

These teams are very familiar with each other, playing twice a year in the NFC West, yet they’ve only faced each other in the postseason once, in the 1990 NFC Championship Game that saw Joe Montana’s 49ers pound the Rams 30-3 (and then go on to whoop my Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV).

But that was decades ago. To show you how evenly matched they are today, San Francisco’s defense allowed 21.5 points/game during the regular season, while the Rams allowed 21.9. The Rams averaged 27.1 points/game on offense and SF averaged 25.1. It’s going to be a tough one. 

Simply because I’m rooting for a) A Super Bowl home game for the Rams; and, b) The Los Angeles team to beat the SF team, I’m going with the Rams to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl LVI on February 13.

Prediction: Rams 31 – Niners 24


There you have it, more fearless predictions for this penultimate round of the NFL Playoffs. There’s no way these conference championship games will be as crazy as last weekend, right? We’ll see. I am predicting a Chiefs vs Rams Super Bowl on Feb. 13, so don’t be surprised when it’s the Bengals vs the 49ers. Until next time…

NFL Divisional Round Predictions

By NFL Correspondent D.Higgins

Last week, I gave my Wild-Card Predictions, going 4-2 in my picks. Read my recap of Wild-Card Weekend here. But for now, let’s get to the Divisional Round!

*AFC*

#4 Bengals @ #1 Titans

Saturday, 1:30pm on CBS

After winning a good fight against the Raiders, Cincinnati is looking to play the upset card in round two. Tennessee is well-rested, but the Bengals are pumped up after their first playoff win in decades. The teams have different attacks on offense–the Bengals are pass-heavy, thanks to QB Joe Burrow; the Titans run the ball very well, fifth best in the NFL at 141.4 rushing yards per game.

On defense, however, Cincinnati is built to defend the run, holding opponents to just 102.5 rushing yards per game, which is the fifth best in the NFL. That, I believe, will be the difference. The Bengals will keep Derrick Henry in check, and force the Titans to continue their sloppy play, as Tennessee committed 103 penalties for 973 yards during the regular season. 

Prediction: Bengals 24 – Titans 21


#3 Bills @ #2 Chiefs

Sunday, 3:30pm on CBS

If these teams play the way they did last weekend, this game is going to be high-scoring and high-octane. I think that the winner of this game goes on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

I underestimated the Bills’ offense in the Wild Card Round, so I’m not going to be fooled again. I think Buffalo gets their revenge over the Chiefs this year and wins this game because they have a superior defense and because QB Josh Allen will continue to limit his mistakes.

Prediction: Bills 38 – Chiefs 28

*NFC*

#6 Niners @ #1 Packers

Saturday, 5:15pm on FOX

The Packers are a strong team with a great offense, but many don’t realize that the 49ers actually averaged more yards per game than Green Bay during the regular season (375.7 to the Packers’ 365.6). The San Francisco defense was also better at preventing yards on defense, allowing just 310 yards/game (third-best in the NFL) while the Green Bay defense allowed 328.2 yards per game, good for 9th in the league. 

To no surprise, both teams are in the top 10 in the NFL in nearly every meaningful category. But there is one category that stands out and pushes the Packers over the edge–turnovers. The disciplined Green Bay squad had a plus-13 turnover differential, while San Francisco struggled to a minus-4 turnover differential. I believe that will be the difference in this one.

Prediction: Packers 31 – Niners 24


#4 Rams @ #2 Buccaneers

Sunday, 12pm on NBC

The Rams looked really good in the Wild-Card Round, dismantling the Cardinals and putting their stamp on the playoffs. Their hopes to do exactly what Tampa Bay did last season – play the Super Bowl in their home stadium – comes down to this tough game against QB Tom Brady and the Bucs. Even though the Rams were well-tested with a tough NFC West schedule, I think that Brady will find a way to win, as he seemingly always does. 

Yes, the Rams beat the Bucs 34-24 this season, but that was way back in Week Three. Since then, we saw Matthew Stafford struggle with picks, as the Rams’ 18 interceptions was fifth-worst in the NFL. They are going to have to play mistake-free football to win this one in Tampa Bay, but I think the Bucs’ offense is just too much for the Rams.

Prediction: Buccaneers 27 – Rams 17

NFL Wild-Card Recap

How did I do?

By NFL Correspondent D. Higgins

I will give my Divisional Round predictions in another column; but first, let’s recap how my Wild-Card predictions went.

*AFC*

My Prediction: Bengals 32 – Raiders 23

Actual Score: Bengals 26 – Raiders 19

Comments: This was lower scoring than I thought, but the game had the same outcome. The Raiders put up a good fight, but Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase–who had nine receptions for 116 yards–were too much for Las Vegas, errant whistle blows or not.

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My Prediction: Patriots 24 – Bills 20

Actual Score: Bills 47 – Patriots 17

Comments: I could not have been more wrong on this one! QB Josh Allen and the Bills absolutely destroyed NE in every facet of the game, with Buffalo playing the NFL’s first ever “perfect game.” It was over by halftime. Good for the Bills–who knocked out Bill Belichick in the Wild Card Round for only the 3rd time in his head coaching career.

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My Prediction: Chiefs 35 – Steelers 17

Actual Score: Chiefs 42 – Steelers 21

Comments: As expected, Patrick Mahomes had a dominating game, throwing for 404 yards and 5 touchdowns on 30 of 39 passes. After a scoreless first quarter, it was all Chiefs who suddenly led 21-7 at halftime and then just exploded for two more quick TDs to start the second half. In what will likely be his final game, 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger was 29 of 44 for 215 yards, including two meaningless TD passes after the game was already out of hand.

*NFC*

My Prediction: Bucs 41 – Eagles 21

Actual Score: Bucs 31 – Eagles 15

Comments: As I predicted, this was a blowout win for Tampa Bay. Philly struggled with 3 turnovers and were outmatched by a typically efficient Tom Brady performance (29-37, 271 yards, 2 TD). Even after a couple of Philly TDs in garbage time, this game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicates. Even scarier for the rest of the league? Tampa Bay feels they could have played even better.

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My Prediction: Cowboys 27 – Niners 25

Actual Score: Niners 23 – Cowboys 17

Comments: It was a nail biter in the end, with some bizarre decisions all around. The Cowboys’ decision to have QB Dak Prescott run the ball on 1st down with 14 seconds left, and then him trying to spike the ball as time expired, was chaotic and perplexing. But overall, the 49ers simply outplayed Dallas, who let penalties kill them. The Cowboys committed 14 penalties for 89 yards, tying a franchise playoff record. San Francisco also out-rushed Dallas 169 yards to 77. Although a bit sloppy, it was an exciting game, as the Cowboys just fell short after trailing 23-7 in the 4th quarter.

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My Prediction: Rams 30 – Cardinals 23

Actual Score: Rams 34 – Cardinals 11

Comments: The Rams offense, led by Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and a balanced rushing attack, dominated Arizona as expected. More importantly for L.A., the defense stepped up, too, forcing 2 interceptions and holding the Cardinals to just 183 total yards (AZ also went 0-9 on 3rd downs). Stafford was sharp in his first-ever playoff win, throwing for 2 TDs and no interceptions on 13 of 17 for 202 yards. 

So that wraps up the Wild Card Round, with my guesses going a respectable 4-2. But now, let’s get to my fearless predictions for round two

Fearless NFL Playoff Predictions

By NFL Correspondent D.Higgins

It’s NFL playoff time, which means it’s also prediction time. In predictions that are sure to be pathetically wrong by the time Super Bowl LVI kicks off in Los Angeles on February 13, 2022, let’s give it a whirl.

AFC WILD-CARD WEEKEND

#5 Raiders @ #4 Bengals
Saturday 1:30pm on NBC

Even though the Raiders pulled out a huge win in the game of the year last Sunday to knock out the Chargers (sorry, Isaiah), I think that QB Joe Burrow, receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins (great name!), and the rest of the Cincinnati offense is too overwhelming for Las Vegas. It was a good run, Raider Nation, but the Cinderella story is over.

Bengals 32 – Raiders 23


#6 Patriots @ #3 Bills
Saturday, 5:15 on CBS

This will be a tough battle between division rivals and two great defensive football teams. Buffalo led the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game at 272.8 while giving up just 17 points per game; but New England was right behind them, allowing just 310.8 yds and 17.8 pts/g. The teams split their season series, each winning on the road. They finished just a game apart in the AFC East as Buffalo won their final 4 games in a row, while the Pats lost 3 of their last 4.

Even though the Bills have the hot streak and the home field advantage, I think Bill Belichick outsmarts Buffalo and the Pats take this one.

Patriots 24 – Bills 20


#7 Steelers @ #2 Chiefs
Sunday, 5:15 on NBC

In the easiest AFC game to predict, QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will put on a clinic against the Steelers. Big Ben Roethlisberger can end his career with pride, but KC will just be way too much for Pittsburgh.

Chiefs 35 – Steelers 17

(Bye Week: #1 Tennessee Titans)


NFC WILD-CARD WEEKEND

#7 Eagles @ #2 Buccaneers
Sunday, 10am on FOX

I guess they still have to play the game, but this one is a no-brainer: Tom Brady and the rest of Tampa Bay will make easy work of Philadelphia. The Bucs finished 13-4 and cruised into the playoffs with impressive wins all season. Even though Philly (9-8) won 4 of their last 5 games, they played the Jets, Washington twice, and a terrible Giants team before getting blown out by the Cowboys last week. Look for more of the same on Sunday morning.

Bucs 41 – Eagles 21


#6 49ers @ #3 Cowboys
Sunday, 1:30pm on CBS

To me, this is the most exciting match-up of the weekend, bringing back memories of the legendary games between these teams in the ’90s, when stars like Steve Young & Jerry Rice battled it out against Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, & Michael Irvin.

This time it’s Dak Prescott vs Jimmy Garoppolo, and Ezekiel Elliott vs Deebo Samuel. The teams are very even, as San Francisco finished at 10-7 in a very tough NFC West, while Dallas finished 12-5 in an easy NFC East. Both teams won 4 of their last 5 games. The Cowboys averaged 31.2 points per game (allowing 21.1 pts/g) while the Niners scored an average of 25.1 pts/g (allowing 21.5).

This game is a tough call… but for full disclosure: as a massive Dodgers fan, I simply cannot root for any team from San Francisco, so I gotta pull for the ‘Boys here in a close one.

Cowboys 27 – Niners 25


#5 Cardinals @ #4 Rams
Monday, 5:15 on ESPN/ABC

In the first ever Monday Night Football playoff game, the Rams will host their division rivals from Arizona. L.A. spent most of the season trying to catch up to Arizona, who got off to a hot 7-0 start. But catch up they did — the Rams went 5-2 after their bye week to finish with a 12-5 record, while the Cardinals dropped 4 of their last 6 to finish one game behind L.A. at 11-6 in the tough NFC West.

In this match-up, I think the momentum continues and the Rams ride Matthew Stafford’s arm to victory at SoFi Stadium.

Rams 30 – Cardinals 23

(Bye Week: #1 Green Bay Packers)


Next week, I’ll recap these Wild-Card Round predictions and move on to the Divisional Round games Feel free to drop your predictions in the comments section below.

Until then, go Broncos! (Oh, wait…)