NFL Playoff Predictions: Who Will Win Super Bowl LV? – Sports Illustrated

The NFL playoff field is bigger than ever. We have six games on wild-card weekend and 13 total, including Super Bowl LV. The NFL remains determined to play each game as scheduled, as was made clear throughout a regular season played amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There is, unfortunately, the possibly that positive tests will wipe out practices and make key players unavailable.

Despite the unpredictability, or maybe because of that potential chaos, our staffers have gravitated heavily toward the top seeds and favorites in our staff picks. Here’s who our writers and editors have ticketed for the big game.

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ALBERT BREER

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Chiefs 27, Saints 20
MVP: Patrick Mahomes

Lots of chalk here? Sure. But I think home field advantage will matter in this year’s playoffs with teams more worn down than normal. And I came really close to sticking with the Saints to win the whole thing—this really is the current group’s last shot, if you look at next year’s cap situation. But I can’t bet against Mahomes on the big stage.

JENNY VRENTAS

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Chiefs 31, Packers 24
MVP: Patrick Mahomes

Perhaps even harder than achieving success in the NFL is sustaining it. Which is why it has been so impressive that the defending champion Chiefs earned their conference’s top seed, while the Packers came back better after last season’s trip to the NFC championship game. We should point out that no team is entering the playoffs with more momentum than the Bills, which could potentially set up a thrilling AFC championship game matchup. But the Chiefs have continued to find ways to win games all season. They are now what the Patriots were for most of this millennium, the team it was unwise to pick against. While Andy Reid had a long wait for his first ring as a head coach, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in the NFL who does not think it will be a much shorter wait for his second.

CONOR ORR

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Packers 42, Bills 31
MVP: Aaron Rodgers

While this will come with a twinge of disappointment for a Bills fan base that is sensitive to the prospect of losing Super Bowls, they can walk away from this game against the Packers knowing it won’t be another few decades before they are back.

MICHAEL ROSENBERG

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Chiefs 38, Packers 35
MVP: Patrick Mahomes

These predictions come down to guessing the upsets. Do I feel great about picking Washington to beat a much more talented Tampa team? I do not. But you’re looking at a man who picked the Lions to sneak into the playoffs. Public humiliation is sort of my thing. Washington has the formula to beat Tom Brady’s team: elite pass rush led by star rookie Chase Young and a QB, Alex Smith, who does not beat his own team.

The Super Bowl picks are admittedly boring, but 1) with only one team in each conference getting a bye, that feels like a big advantage, 2) Aaron Rodgers has deserved better than he has gotten in the postseason and is playing some of the best ball of his career, and 3) the Chiefs are still pretty clearly the best team in the league. They were also my preseason pick, which should count for absolutely nothing except that I am a stubborn fool who desperately clings to the rare occasions when I am correct.

GREG BISHOP

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Chiefs 35, Saints 21
MVP: Patrick Mahomes

In the most uncertain of seasons, I’ve come to believe that there are four teams that stand slightly above the rest of the field: the Chiefs, Bills, Packers and Saints. As such, I don’t see as many upsets, except in the No. 4 vs. 5 games where the No. 4 seeds are evenly matched (Tennessee) or overly so (Washington). No reason to get cute here. The Bills have played as well as any team in football down the stretch, and I like Buffalo’s chances against Mahomes and Kansas City. What a game that should be. The Packers have played as well as any team this season, and I like Green Bay’s chances against New Orleans, particularly at home. But I picked the two teams that I think are the most balanced right now to win. That’s Kansas City and New Orleans, two franchises that can vanquish foes in myriad ways, that can run the ball or throw it, that can play stout D. These are two of the most fun offenses in the NFL to watch. Two of the best coaches. Two legendary quarterbacks. The difference, as always, is Mahomes, which he’ll prove in February to announce the NFL’s next dynasty in Kansas City.

ANDREW BRANDT

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Packers 38, Titans 17
MVP: Aaron Rodgers

I picked the Packers over the Titans in the Super Bowl in August and I am not backing down now. As for the Packers, that now seems like the safest bet anyone could make, although I was somewhat lonely on that hill before the season. The Titans? Yes, I know their defense is suspect and they’ve had deficiencies but I believe they are a team built for the playoffs, especially in bad weather (as long as it is not snow at Lambeau Field, like we saw in Week 16). And yes, I believe they will be in the same position they were last year—visiting the Chiefs for the AFC championship—but this time will not let their lead evaporate.

Their storybook run, however, will end with MVP Aaron Rodgers showing why he is so much more valuable than near-MVP Derrick Henry. I’m biased as always, yes, but the Pack is back.

GARY GRAMLING

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Chiefs 24, Saints 19
MVP: Chris Jones

My dark horse prediction of Colts over Eagles looks less likely by the day, and those fat cats in Washington won’t let me pick a Chiefs-Bills Super Bowl, so I’ll revert to what I deem the boring pick for unimaginative losers: The NFL’s best team beating the NFL’s most complete team. I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this uninspired, chalky bracket. I picked the Rams over the Seahawks as my only real upset this coming weekend (the Ravens are three-point favorites, they don’t count) because I had to pick one, but that’s only in a scenario where Jared Goff and Andrew Whitworth return.

MITCH GOLDICH

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Chiefs 34, Packers 26
MVP: Patrick Mahomes MVP

My picks are boring and chalky, but I’ve been picking the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl for three years, so why stop now? I will admit that the Bills, Packers and Ravens are playing well enough that, for the first time in two years, if you gave me truth serum and asked me to choose between the Chiefs or the field, I might tell you I lean toward the field. (I know there are other dangerous teams too, but you don’t need me to list all the good teams.) But anyway, when it comes time to pick teams to win games, I can’t go against Kansas City in any of these rounds. They have appeared vulnerable for 15 or 20 minutes at a time during their parade of games that have been closer than they should be, but I have enough trust in them to turn it on when they have to. As they did last postseason. As they did all year. As they’ll do again.

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