The NFL playoffs are right here for 2021. Meaning 13 extra picks and predictions to make towards the unfold by way of Tremendous Bowl 55.
By the 256 video games of the 2020 common season, the outcomes right here had been fairly good, however there’s at all times room to maintain getting higher and ship when the stakes are raised probably the most within the postseason.
This 12 months, the playoffs kick off with a “tremendous” wild-card weekend, which suggests six video games — three on Saturday, three on Sunday — as a substitute of solely 4. That provides us extra probabilities to get video games proper. Sadly, that additionally creates extra probabilities to get issues unsuitable.
With out additional ado, here is cracking into the breakdown of the half-dozen video games developing on the schedule:
NFL playoff picks, predictions towards the unfold
- Recreation of the Week: Browns at Steelers (-3.5, 47 o/u)
Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
The Browns obtained their wanted win over the Steelers in Cleveland in Week 17 to make the playoffs and pressure this rematch, nevertheless it took all the pieces from them defensively and offensively to outlive towards a resting crew not beginning QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will present their regular, stouter run protection and that may set them as much as put constant stress on Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield would not reply nicely when throwing at a excessive quantity with guys in his face. Roethlisberger, in the meantime, will go to work on a Browns’ secondary that has loads of protection holes away from Denzel Ward. Dropping Olivier Vernon up entrance to flank Myles Garrett additionally hurts. The Steelers ended up making a sensible choice to not present the Browns a lot in means of an actual recreation plan. Again for an additional tilt in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ protection reasserts itself with extra offensive assist than traditional.
Decide: Steelers win 27-17 and canopy the unfold.
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET, CBS
The Saints are the largest favorites of wild-card weekend with this double-digit quantity towards the Bears. They’ve owned this matchup fairly simply the previous two seasons, with each video games being performed in Chicago. The Saints could have a rested backfield with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray not enjoying in Week 17, and they’re going to pound away typically on the Bears with them.
The Saints will not sleep towards one other NFC North wild-card customer like they did towards the Vikings a 12 months in the past. The Saints can include the working of David Montgomery and put the sport within the palms of Mitchell Trubisky, which will not finish nicely towards the Saints’ stress on the highway.
Decide: Saints win 34-17 and canopy the unfold.
- Upset of the Week: Rams over Seahawks (-4.5, 43 o/u)
Saturday 4:40 p.m. ET, Fox
The Rams anticipate to have Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp again for the rubber match after the Week 16 loss at Seattle value them the NFC West title and compelled them to have this matchup on the highway. However the Seahawks haven’t got the identical home-field benefit, and likewise their protection has performed higher of late, the Rams are those with the dominant, big-play unit led by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
The Seahawks’ working recreation shall be contained and Russell Wilson will not see a lot open downfield for D.Okay. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Rams will combine up personnel, working the ball nicely and spreading it round within the intermediate passing recreation to Kupp, Woods and the tight ends.
Decide: Rams win 20-17.
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The Payments have a pesky opponent of their first residence playoff recreation since 1996. The Colts could cause them some offensive issues with Jonathan Taylor towards a shaky run protection. The Colts may also trigger them some defensive issues with their sound zone fundamentals, forcing Josh Allen to be affected person and maintain lengthy drives as a substitute of getting his typical huge cross performs together with his huge arm.
The priority right here is Allen is enjoying nicely and is able to spreading the ball round nicely, working the center of the sphere to Cole Beasley (who’s “week to week” with an damage) and likewise getting some assist from Dawson Knox at tight finish. The Colts additionally haven’t got a real shutdown nook for Stefon Diggs. Then it is also simpler to belief Allen over Philip Rivers to make the clutch throws to win a recreation this season.
Decide: Payments win 31-27 however fail to cowl the unfold.
Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
The Buccaneers’ offense hopes to have Mike Evans wholesome to assist red-hot Tom Brady together with Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and the working recreation. In addition to Brady is enjoying, this is not the best spot for his cross safety towards Chase Younger and Washington’s ferocious entrance 4. The Bucs’ protection will include the run, however Alex Smith has three harmful receiving weapons in Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas and J.D. McKissic with whom to have success shifting the ball on short-to-intermediate throws. In the end, Tampa Bay wins comfortably as anticipated, however Washington works the quantity and retains it to a landing loss with impressed play for Ron Rivera.
Decide: Buccaneers win 24-17 however fail to cowl the unfold.
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC
Take your choose: The Ravens shall be centered on exacting highway revenge right here, both for the brutal 28-12 divisional playoff upset from a 12 months in the past or the heartbreaking 30-24 additional time loss from Week 11, each in Baltimore. The Ravens weren’t in the identical offensive grove then with Lamar Jackson, J.Okay. Dobbins and Marquise Brown as they’re now seven weeks later. In addition they have a determined defensive benefit due to a succesful cross rush and deep secondary. The run protection additionally has shored up of late, which is sweet for slowing down Derrick Henry.
Jackson remains to be searching for his first playoff win after two residence losses. He is relaxed and revved up as a passer, and he retains working at a excessive stage, sparked by Dobbins sharing the backfield with him. Search for the Ravens to get aggressive passing with him to construct a lead, and restrict Henry from being a constant gateway to Ryan Tannehill’s play-action downfield passing. The Ravens and Titans are enjoying related offensive video games for the time being, however the Titans’ defensive woes catch as much as them right here.
Decide: Ravens win 34-31 however fail to cowl the unfold.
Stats of the Week
Week 17 straight up: 12-4
Week 17 towards the unfold: 7-9
Season straight up: 164-92
Season towards the unfold: 132-117