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Picks and Predictions for Every NFL Playoff Game, Including Super Bowl LVI

Kyle Koster
San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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An unprecedented 17-game season, injuries and pandemic combining to create a great uncertainty week to week, and a seemingly random shuffle of top-tier teams created an NFL season unlike any other. The league, in its infinite wisdom, has graced us with two additional playoff games to enjoy and a greater look at chaos. All of this makes looking into a cloudy crystal ball especially difficult. Even so, we are contractually bound to predict how the postseason will shake out.

Wild Card

Kyle Koster

Chiefs 38, Steelers 16:
Big Ben briefly makes everyone think that, for yet another week, this isn't the final farewell by jumping out to a surprising 10-0 lead in Arrowhead. The end of the road comes fast and furious in the form of 28 second quarter points from Patrick Mahomes & Co.

Bills 28, Patriots 23:
Mac Jones game-manages beautifully until two unfortunate second-half turnovers set up Josh Allen with short fields and ammunition to finally slay their long-time dragon.

Raiders 27, Bengals 24: It's going to take an act of God and then a second act of God to stand in the way of Derek Carr and the peak of resiliency. Maxx Crosby and the vaunted pass rush give Joe Burrow fits and Daniel Carlson sneaks a 49-yarder inside an upright to complete the upset.

Buccaneers 30, Eagles 20: A mostly non-competitive game gets mildly interesting as the Eagles break a few long runs off in the second half, but Tom Brady puts the final nail in the coffin by finding Rob Gronkowski on a gutsy fourth-down play at the goal line.

Cowboys 19, 49ers 17: The best game of Wild Card weekend ends with an expertly-run two-minute drill from Dak Prescott, who shakes off an especially erratic day by scrambling with his legs and setting up a chip shot, walk-off winner.

Rams 34, Cardinals 22:
Matthew Stafford proves why Sean McVay wanted him so badly and changes the late-season narrative by torching the Arizona secondary for 350 yards and four scores, including two to Odell Beckham.

Ryan Phillips

Chiefs 35, Steelers 17: Sorry Ben Roethlisberger, your career ends at the hands of a surging Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Bills 21, Patriots 17: Mac Jones steps up and keeps this close in a frigid Buffalo, but the Bills advance behind their running game and a big play from Stefon Diggs.

Bengals 38, Raiders 28: Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase are on fire and the Raiders secondary struggled to contain Justin Herbert in Week 18. Burrow goes big, and the Raiders go away from Josh Jacobs too much, making this a shootout. Advantage: Cincinnati.

Buccaneers 34, Eagles 21: Tom Brady puts on a clinic to reestablish the Bucs as the NFC favorite in some eyes. Jalen Hurts makes a few big plays to keep it close in the first half, but the champs pull away after the break.

Cowboys 27, 49ers 24: San Francisco makes this game closer than it should be, but a late Jimmy Garoppolo interception swings it to Dallas.

Rams 42, Cardinals 35: A good, old fashioned shootout winds up coming down to a battle of quarterbacks. The wily veteran Stafford, outduels the young gun in Kyler Murray. The Cardinals will use the loss as fuel heading into 2022.

Divisional Round

Kyle Koster

Titans 30, Raiders 17:
Teeming with all accumulated disrespect, Mike Vrabel's team rides big plays through the air and a special teams touchdown into the AFC Championship Game as news Derrick Henry is healthy enough to play sends Nashville into a frenzy.

Chiefs 40, Bills 34:
An epic shootout delights audiences and dominates ratings. Mahomes flings a ball 60 yards across his body to Tyreek Hill past busted coverage for the ultimate highlight.

Rams 29, Packers 24:
Los Angeles gets revenge for the regular season loss and Stafford exacts his own on old NFC North nemesis Aaron Rodgers. McVay is once again the toast of the coaching world.

Buccaneers 33, Cowboys 30:
What, do you think I'm ever going to pick against Brady?

Ryan Phillips

Titans 27, Bengals 21: The Titans slow the game to a crawl with Derrick Henry back and ground the high-flying Bengals offense. A frustrated Burrow throws a few late interceptions trying to force things to get his offense going.

Chiefs 45, Bills 34: A high-scoring affair featuring two of the NFL's best quarterbacks sees Patrick Mahomes win that battle. The former MVP racks up five touchdowns -- including three in the second half -- to steal a huge road win.

Packers 37, Rams 21: In the same story for most of their careers, Aaron Rodgers takes down Matthew Stafford. Rodgers is sublime at home as the Packers crush the visiting Rams who struggle with the cold temperatures at Lambeau Field.

Buccaneers 35, Cowboys 24: Tom Brady and the Buccaneers end Dak Prescott's excellent comeback season. In a workmanlike effort, Tampa Bay comes out fast and closes strong, despite the Cowboys making things close at the half.

AFC Championship

Kyle Koster

Chiefs 25, Titans 24: Andy Reid secures his spot in Canton by opting to go for two in the game's closing seconds, allowing Mahomes to fire a sidearm prayer directly into the belly of Travis Kelce in an all-time playoff moment.

Ryan Phillips

Chiefs 27, Titans 24: In a bruising game that features a number of untimely turnovers, the Chiefs pull it out after a brilliant late drive from Mahomes. Harrison Butker nails a 37-yard field goal as time expires to sent Kansas City to its third straight Super Bowl appearance.

NFC Championship

Kyle Koster

Rams 35, Buccaneers 27:
Okay, I'm going to do it. I'm going to pick against Brady. Stafford, for a third straight week, plays otherworldly, turnover-free football. Jalen Ramsey snags two interceptions and returns one for a score as Los Angeles secures a "home" Super Bowl.

Ryan Phillips

Packers 33, Buccaneers 31: After a decade in the wilderness, Aaron Rodgers caps an MVP season with a return to the Super Bowl. In a rematch from last season -- and a quarterback duel for the ages -- this time the Packers make all the right calls late and the Bucs' litany of major injuries finally catch up with them.

Super Bowl

Kyle Koster

Chiefs 42, Rams 24:
Millions around the world are disappointed as Kansas City jumps out to a 28-7 at the half and breezes to a second crown in three years. It is not Mahomes, however, who stars, as a committee of running backs combines for 230 yards and four scores.

Ryan Phillips

Packers 31, Chiefs 27: The Packers jump out to a big 24-3 lead before Patrick Mahomes leads a second-half comeback that falls just short. Aaron Rodgers gets his second Super Bowl ring after a season of controversy.

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