NFL playoffs 2019: AFC Divisional predictions

By Matt Verderame
NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars

With the NFL playoffs getting underway this weekend, we take a look at some AFC Divisional round predictions.

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)

If seedings were everything, this would be the biggest mismatch possible in the NFL playoffs. Kansas City comes into the AFC playoffs as the top seed, something it has not been since 1997. The Colts snuck into the NFL playoffs as the sixth seed, winning nine of their final 10 games to get in. Of course, Indianapolis demolished the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round, earning their trip to Arrowhead Stadium.

Speaking of Arrowhead, it has not been the home-field advantage many always make it out to be. The Chiefs have lost each of their last six home playoff games, not winning one since Joe Montana was the quarterback in 1993. In fact, since Arrowhead opened up in 1972, Kansas City has only two postseason wins in that building. So do the Colts.

 

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Now, the teams clash once more in January with a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line. On paper, the Chiefs are the better team. They played a vastly more difficult schedule and won 12 games compared to 10. They also have the MVP on their team in Patrick Mahomes, who threw for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. That said, the weight of history has to be almost unbearable.

The pick here is Indianapolis for that reason, along with the Colts being hot at the right time. Additionally, the Chiefs haven’t played any defense against good teams. They’ve allowed at least 28 points in each of their five games against other playoff opponents, save the offensively-challenged Baltimore Ravens (who scored 24). It’s simply a bad matchup, again, for Kansas City.

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (-4)

In New England, the Patriots are trying to keep their home record unblemished when they welcome in the Chargers. Something will have to give in this matchup, with Los Angeles having won every road game it has played outside of Los Angeles. Furthermore, the Chargers might have the best roster in the NFL, loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.

 

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Still, the question becomes whether Tom Brady can turn back the hands of time once more. Brady is 41 years old and beginning to look it, but the Patriots are still 11-5 and one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. Should they do that, New England would be only the third team in league history to play in three consecutive Super Bowls. Oddly enough, the other teams that accomplished the feat were also in the AFC East, with the Miami Dolphins doing it from 1972-74 and the Buffalo Bills from 1990-93.

While the Chargers are the better team, the pick is New England. Los Angeles has to come across the country for a second straight week. Inclement weather might also play a factor. Additionally, Bill Belichick off a bye is almost impossible to take down.