The NFL playoffs are right here for 2021. Meaning 13 extra picks and predictions to make in opposition to the unfold via 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 offers us extra probabilities to get video games proper. Sadly, that additionally creates extra probabilities to get issues mistaken.
With out additional ado, here is cracking into the breakdown of the half-dozen video games developing on the schedule:
NFL playoff picks, predictions in opposition to the unfold
- Recreation of the Week: Browns at Steelers (-3.5, 47 o/u)
Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
The Browns bought their wanted win over the Steelers in Cleveland in Week 17 to make the playoffs and drive this rematch, nevertheless it took every part from them defensively and offensively to outlive in opposition to 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 does 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. Shedding Olivier Vernon up entrance to flank Myles Garrett additionally hurts. The Steelers ended up making a sensible resolution to not present the Browns a lot in method of an actual recreation plan. Again for one more tilt in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ protection reasserts itself with extra offensive assist than standard.
Decide: Steelers win 27-17 and canopy the unfold.
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET, CBS
The Saints are the most important favorites of wild-card weekend with this double-digit quantity in opposition to the Bears. They’ve owned this matchup somewhat simply the previous two seasons, with each video games being performed in Chicago. The Saints can have a rested backfield with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray not taking part in in Week 17, and they’re going to pound away typically on the Bears with them.
The Saints will not sleep in opposition to one other NFC North wild-card customer like they did in opposition to the Vikings a 12 months in the past. The Saints can comprise the operating of David Montgomery and put the sport within the arms of Mitchell Trubisky, which will not finish nicely in opposition to 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 count on to have Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp again for the rubber match after the Week 16 loss at Seattle price them the NFC West title and compelled them to have this matchup on the highway. However the Seahawks do not have the identical home-field benefit, and in addition 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’ operating recreation might 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, operating 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 house playoff recreation since 1996. The Colts could cause them some offensive issues with Jonathan Taylor in opposition to a shaky run protection. The Colts may 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 move performs together with his huge arm.
The priority right here is Allen is taking part in nicely and is able to spreading the ball round nicely, working the center of the sector to Cole Beasley (who’s “week to week” with an harm) and in addition getting some assist from Dawson Knox at tight finish. The Colts additionally do not have 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 operating recreation. In addition to Brady is taking part in, this is not the best spot for his move safety in opposition to Chase Younger and Washington’s ferocious entrance 4. The Bucs’ protection will comprise 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. Finally, 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 decide: The Ravens might be targeted 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 time beyond regulation 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. Additionally they have a determined defensive benefit due to a succesful move rush and deep secondary. The run protection additionally has shored up of late, which is nice for slowing down Derrick Henry.
Jackson remains to be in search of his first playoff win after two house losses. He is relaxed and revved up as a passer, and he retains operating 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 taking part in comparable offensive video games in the intervening time, 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 in opposition to the unfold: 7-9
Season straight up: 164-92
Season in opposition to the unfold: 132-117