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  • Matthew Zeitz

Way Too Late NFL Predictions

Every year, many people predict what will happen in the NFL playoffs, but few manage to be 100% correct. It can occasionally be entertaining to read through other people’s predictions to see where they think your favorite team will end up. However, it might be even more entertaining to see what people thought was going to happen in retrospect. As of writing this article, it is the morning of Saturday, January 13th, the first day of the NFL playoffs, but you will likely not be reading it until just before the Super Bowl. So sit back, relax, and with your knowledge of what has happened already in the NFL playoffs, take a look at what someone thought the outcome might have been beforehand.

Wild Card Weekend, the first round of the NFL playoffs, can be as unpredictable as it gets, but I will give it my best shot. To start with the favorites, I envision a dominant showing from the Dallas Cowboys, a team with both a top 5 offense and defense in the NFL, who will handily defeat the Green Bay Packers 31-10.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, behind their 3rd string quarterback Mason Rudolph, will be on the wrong end of a lopsided game as well, falling to the high-powered Bills offense in snowy Buffalo 38-7.

Moving to some more closely matched games, I foresee an upset with the Los Angeles Rams defeating the Detroit Lions 28-24. While the Lions have been the better team all year, it is the first playoff game for coach Dan Campbell, who has a tough assignment against a Rams team that still has their Super Bowl-winning core behind coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford – who is playing in a revenge game against his former team.

Back to the AFC, in a low-scoring defensive battle, Joe Flacco and the Cleveland Browns will take down the young and inexperienced Houston Texans on the road 13-6.

Down in Tampa Bay, even though the Philadelphia Eagles have struggled late in the season, I cannot imagine a world where Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield can overcome the Eagles’ talented defense: Eagles win 24-13.

Finally, in possibly one of the best games of the first round, I see the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs have looked more vulnerable this year than ever before in the Patrick Mahomes era, but I think they will get their act together for this one, winning 17-10 in the sub-zero temperatures of Kansas City.

Moving on to the Divisional Round, six teams have moved on, while two more enter the fold. The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers earned a first-round bye for holding the top seeds in their respective conferences, and will now play the lowest remaining seed in their side of the bracket. This means that the Ravens will play the Browns for the third time this season. They split their first two matchups, but I expect the Ravens to win this game somewhat easily behind a stellar performance from this year’s MVP favorite Lamar Jackson 23-10. Staying in the AFC, the Bills will match up against the Chiefs once again. Though the Chiefs have won their last two playoff meetings, Kansas City’s lack of consistent offense will prove fatal. Bills win 30-13.

In the NFC, the 49ers will easily beat their division rival Rams 35-17 behind a dominant showing from running back Christian McCaffery. In another intra-division matchup, the Cowboys will defeat the Eagles 27-14. The Cowboys have been the superior team all season, and Philadelphia’s defensive flaws will be exposed by the deadly combination of Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb.

Now, for the Conference Championship games. In the AFC, this leaves the Ravens playing the Bills and in the NFC, the 49ers playing the Cowboys. In a tightly contested game, I think the Bills defense will find a way to shut down Lamar Jackson’s dynamic running game. This, combined with the Bills offense mustering a few touchdown drives, should be enough for them to squeak past Baltimore and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl 20-17.

In the NFC, this will be the third year in a row the 49ers and Cowboys have faced off in the playoffs, and for the third year in a row, I expect the 49ers to win. Their running game is too high-powered for the Dallas defense to stop, and their defense could be enough to slow down Dallas’ passing game. In a back-and-forth game, San Francisco will win 28-25.

Super Bowl 58 will be held in Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium on February 11th, 2024. By my predictions, the San Francisco 49ers will face off against the Buffalo Bills, and I am sure it will be an incredibly entertaining game with some even more entertaining commercials. While I think it will be close throughout the first 3 quarters, Buffalo will pull away in the fourth quarter, winning by a final score of 29-14. Josh Allen will cement his legacy as one of the all-time great Bills quarterbacks, delivering the franchise their first-ever Super Bowl win.

So, how did I do? While I might not do so well with predicting the individual games, there is one thing I know for certain: the 2024 NFL playoffs will be as wild, wacky, and wonderful as they are every single year.


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