NFL Playoff Preview

by Matt Weininger

The NFL playoffs get underway this Saturday. Let’s take a look at all the teams in the playoff tournament and the first round matchups:

AFC: 

  1. Tennessee Titans (12-5)

The Titans come off of a big regular season and clinch the number seed in the AFC. This will get them a 1st round bye in the wild card round this weekend. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been great for the Titans ever since they picked him up from the Dolphins in 2018. It also helps that they have star receiver A.J. Brown who has certified himself as the number one receiver on the team. Star Running Back Derrick Henry, who hasn’t played a game since October, looks to be back for the playoffs. The Titans, along with its strong defense, look to make a strong playoff run in 2022.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

The Chiefs are back from a rough start to the season and will host a home game in the first round. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Tight End Travis Kelce have been excellent this year. Backed by a strong defense with Tyrian Mathieu and Chandler Jones, the Chiefs are a formidable threat in the postseason.

  1. Buffalo Bills (11-6)

The Bills look to get redemption this postseason as last year they lost in the AFC Championship game. Quarterback Josh Allen has had himself a solid year as the young star keeps breaking records. Helped by Star wide receiver Steffon Diggs and Tight End Dawson Knox, the offense can be very lethal. The defense, with Tremaine Edmunds and Micah Hyde, look to keep the defensive backfield locked up for years to come.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)

The Bengals are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. They seem to have their franchise QB in Joe Burrow and one of the deadliest wide receiver cores in the NFL with Rookie Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. Also, running back Joe Mixon has been back to his great running form. The defense, which falters in the passing game, easily makes up for it with their run defense which can turn the tide of the game fast. Cincinnati gets to host a wild card game as the fans are hyped to root for their Bengals at home.

  1. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)

In their 2nd season in Las Vegas, the Raiders made the playoffs. Despite one of the craziest seasons ever (losing their head coach and one of their top wide receivers), the Raiders still made the playoffs. Quarterback Derek Carr has been outstanding for the team and one of the best Tight Ends in the league, Darren Waller, looks to come back from injury and tear it up in the playoffs. Despite having many ups and downs this year and being a very streaky team, the Raiders look to ride their four game winning streak into the playoffs.

  1. New England Patriots (10-7)

The New England Patriots are in the playoffs but not with Tom Brady. Rookie Quarterback Mac Jones leads the Patriots into the postseason after their disappointing 2020 season. The Pats will need their receivers Jakobi Meyers and N’keal Harry to be on par with how well Tight End Hunter Henry has been playing. With the strong secondary, backed by Devin Mcourtney and J.C. Jackson, and with defensive end Matthew Judon putting pressure on the opposing QB, the Pats could make a stand this year.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers ( 9-7-1)

The Pittsburgh Steelers barely slipped into the playoffs. They hope to make a run with Quarterback “Big” Ben Roethlisberger in his final year in the league. The Steelers will be pretty reliant on dominant rookie running back Najee Harris and receivers Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. The defense, which has been this bright spot on this team, will be led by generational player T.J. Watt and Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

NFC:

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-4)

The Packers are the Number 1 seed in the NFC and have the best record in the league. Led by an MVP seasonfrom quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his partner in crime, wide receiver Davantae Adams, the Packers are looking to win the whole thing. The Packers offensive line has battled through injuries this year and made a huge step in week 18 by getting All-pro David Bahktiari back for the first time since he tore his ACL last season. As the playoffs go on, they hope to also get back Pro-Bowler Za’darius Smith who hasn’t played a snap since week 1 and star Cornerback Jaire Alexander who hasn’t played since week 3. The defense has been led by breakout Corner Rasul Douglus and Rashan Gary. The Packers are Super Bowl favorites and hope to keep it that way.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (13-4)

Tom Brady did it again and led his team, the Buccaneers, to the playoffs at 44 years old. The offense has lost some key players in its receiving core with Chris Godwin out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL and MCL. However, star wide receiver Mike Evans and Tight End Rob Gronkowski are still expected to play. The defense, which is a little banged up, still has stars Devin White, Vita Vea and Antoine Winfield Jr. The Bucs look to repeat this year and are a force to be reckoned with.

  1. Dallas Cowboys ( 12-5)

The Cowboys are in. After a disappointing 6-10 season last year the Cowboys bounced back and won the NFC East. Quarterback Dak Prescot had a bounce back year after season ending injury last season and receivers CeeDee Lamb Amari Cooper are there to help him. The defense, led by Tre’von Diggs who leads the league with 11 interceptions and Rookie Micah Parsons, should help make “America’s Team” a threat in the NFC.

  1. Los Angeles Rams (12-5)

The Rams come out on top in the West. With 3 NFC West teams making the playoffs, the Rams were able to beat out all of them. The offseason trade for Quarterback Matthew Stafford has seemed to pay off and so has the additions of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Von Miller. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp leads the league in receiving yards and has hands down been the best receiver in the league. With their lock down defense and stars Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, this is a team built for the postseason.

  1. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)

After a disappointing 8-8 record last year, the Cardinals came out on fire to start the season 8-2. However, towards the end of the year, they started to slow down. Quarterback Kyler Murry and Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins have been much better this season with their chemistry compared to last. Also, the trade deadline acquisition of Zach Wentz has been a key factor to the success of this offense. The defense can definitely play better led by Defensive End Chandler Jones and Safety Budda Baker. Arizona hopes to make some noise in the playoffs and is a team with a bright future.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (10-7)

Going from the Super Bowl two years ago to the bottom of the division last year, the 49ers have had a bounce back season. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppaolo has played better and better as the year went on and the sneak peaks we have seen of rookie quarterback Trey Lance have been promising. The rise of Deebo Samuel, who has been the MVP of this team all season long, has contributed to the offense as has tight end George Kittle staying healthy. The good thing about this defense, spearheaded by Nick Bosa and Fred Warner, is that they can put pressure on the quarterback from anywhere. If the injuries are over, then the 49ers have a solid shot at returning to the big game.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

Philadelphia is in as the Eagles are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2019. This Philly team has easily been one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this season as they weren’t projected to win a lot of games. However, towards the end of the year, with Quarterback Jalen Hurts in his sophomore season and Rookie receiver DeVonta Smith, the team began to gel. The defense, with Darius Slay who has had a comeback season, is solid. This Eagles team is different from many other teams as they don’t have many big names but play hard and have great chemistry which has gotten them this far.

Playoff predictions:

Wild Card Round:

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys

Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angles Rams

Winner: Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Winner: Kansas city Chiefs

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Winner: New England Patriots

Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Divisional Round:

Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers

Winner: Green Bay Packers

Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winner: Dallas Cowboys

New England Patriots @ Tennessee Titans

Winner:Tennessee Titans

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs

Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Championship Round: 

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers 

Winner Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tennessee Titans

Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Super Bowl: 

Kansas City Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers (In Sofi Stadium)

Winner: Green Bay Packers

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