Three NFL experts from the Prime Time Sports Talk staff came together to share their picks for the opening round of the playoffs.
These three writers will continue to make their picks for the entire season, earning two points for any correct win-loss outcome and an additional three points for correctly predicting the exact score. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A cumulative points total and record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 17 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers
Mike Fanelli: Packers 27, Rams 20
Even with playing two quarterbacks last week, the Rams got the win over the Seattle Seahawks. However, their defense played a critical role in the victory, as they scored a touchdown off a Russell Wilson interception. Unfortunately for the Rams, Aaron Donald might not be 100 percent. Expect Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to fire on all cylinders in their win.
Joe Heller: Packers 31, Rams 20
Aaron Rodgers and co. will win this game handily and host the NFC Championship next week. Expect a big game from DaVante Adams against Jalen Ramsey, which is a rarity against the corner.
Andersen Pickard: Packers 27, Rams 24
This game is a near toss-up considering how relentless the Rams’ defense is. Aaron Donald is a bad man and Jalen Ramsey shuts down everyone in his path. However, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will make something work and find a way to win at home.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills
Mike: Bills 24, Ravens 20
This matchup is between 2018 first-round picks in Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. Both teams are coming off one-possession wins last week. As great as Jackson and the Ravens’ running game has been lately, Allen and Stefon Diggs make just enough plays to get the victory.
Joe: Bills 30, Ravens 24
Both Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson each got their first career playoff victory last week. Allen and the Bills will win again, putting them one game away from returning to the Super Bowl.
Andersen: Ravens 28, Bills 24
The Ravens are the hottest team in football and show no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, the Buffalo passing offense has been clicking. However, the Ravens’ defense is terrifying. They should force Allen to make poor decisions, leading to turnovers and touchdowns for Baltimore. It should be close, but the Ravens advance by four points.
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Mike: Chiefs 41, Browns 31
After their upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns are riding high heading into Kansas City. However, it took everything to go right for the Browns to get the victory in Pittsburgh. Things won’t go that well this week in Kansas City. Even if the Chiefs get off to a rocky start as the Steelers did, no lead is safe when facing Patrick Mahomes.
Joe: Browns 34, Chiefs 31
The Browns dismantled the Steelers last week without their head coach on the sidelines. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ starters will have not seen game action in three weeks by the time his game kicks off. Andy Reid‘s team will come out a little flat and the Browns will get an early lead and hold on to it late for the win.
Andersen: Chiefs 34, Browns 27
The Browns played great football last week and should continue to gash the Chiefs’ defense this week with a ferocious running game. However, the Chiefs have the best offense in football and will do more than enough to keep up. Patrick Mahomes will shine and advance to another AFC Championship.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Mike: Saints 27, Buccaneers 24
To close out the weekend, we get the third game between Tom Brady and Drew Brees this season. Brees and the Saints won both regular-season matchups by an average of 23 points per game. Last week, Tampa Bay struggled to close out against Washington while the Saints had their way with the Chicago Bears. Historically, teams who won both regular-season games against an opponent tend to win the third time around. Brady’s first season in Tampa Bay ends thanks to Brees.
Joe: Saints 41, Buccaneers 38
This game will be a shootout between the pair of future Hall of Fame signal-callers. Like the two meetings in the regular season, Brees and the Saints will once again secure the victory.
Andersen: Saints 31, Buccaneers 21
As successul as Tom Brady has been in the playoffs, it’s impossible to trust the Buccaneers against a team as strong as the Saints. Don’t be surprised if the Saints win by multiple scores on their home turf.
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