NFL

NFL playoffs preview: Predicting every round of the 2022 postseason

Shane Jackson
Gabriel Santiago
The Green Bay Packers line up against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Green Bay Packers line up against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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We’ve heard all year about how there are no elite teams in the NFL, which might lead to one of the more chaotic postseasons in recent memory.

The NFL playoffs appear to be as wide open as ever, with the Green Bay Packers the presumed favorite at +375 to win the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs, who are the No. 2 seed in the AFC, are +475 to win it all. Every other team is +750 or longer at WynnBET.

WynnBET’s Super Bowl odds

  • Green Bay Packers +375
  • Kansas City Chiefs +475
  • Buffalo Bills +750
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +800
  • Tennessee Titans +800
  • Los Angeles Rams +950
  • Dallas Cowboys +1100
  • Cincinnati Bengals +1500
  • Arizona Cardinals +2000
  • New England Patriots +2000
  • San Francisco 49ers +2500
  • Las Vegas Raiders +5000
  • Philadelphia Eagles +5000 
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +6000

As a result, predicting how this postseason will unfold seems like an impossible task. But staff writers Shane Jackson and Gabriel Santiago are going to try their best! Here are our playoff predictions for each round, which might help identify value on any bets this postseason.


Wild Card round

Saturday

4:30pm ET/1:30 pm PT - (5) Las Vegas Raiders at (4) Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gabe’s pick: Cincinnati

Given that these two sides have already met once this season (Week 11), this Wild Card matchup between the Raiders and Bengals should be interesting. In the first contest, Cincinnati suffocated the Raiders’ ground game en route to a 32-13 victory. I believe we’ll have a closer game this time around, but I can’t pick against Joe Burrow at the moment–he’s currently the hottest quarterback in the game (having thrown for a combined 970 yards in his last two starts). Additionally, I see the Raiders secondary having a tough time with Cincinnati’s receiving corps. I’ll take the Bengals straight up.

Shane’s pick: Cincinnati

While I’ve already locked in Raiders +6.5 for my initial playoff bets, I still would pick the Bengals to record their first postseason win since 1991. Joe Burrow is playing as well as anyone after posting the second-best PFF offensive grade among quarterbacks in the regular season. Even if you (rightfully) don’t trust Zac Taylor on the big stage, Burrow seems completely capable of carrying Cincinnati to the next round.

8:15pm ET/5:15pm PT - (6) New England Patriots at (3) Buffalo Bills

Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) in December.
Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) in December. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s pick: Buffalo

Hand up — I do not have the best feel for this contest. The two AFC East rivals split the 2021 season series with each winning at the other’s home field. Having won the division, Buffalo will get the luxury of hosting this week, where frigid conditions surely await (looking at single digit temperatures on Saturday night). It’s tough to go against Belichick in the postseason, but I’m going with the more proven quarterback in this game: Josh Allen. I have respect for the rookie Mac Jones, but he has not been asked to do too much this season. No spread for me — 4.5 is a weird number. Give me Bills ML (-200).

Shane’s pick: Buffalo

The Buffalo Bills are an enigma to me, because their ceiling is Super Bowl champion as we saw in a 38-20 drubbing of Kansas City in Week 5. This is also the same team that dropped a 9-6 decision to Jacksonville in Week 9. Josh Allen pretty much embodies that rollercoaster vibe, but I also believe he can lead the Bills past rookie QB Mac Jones this weekend.

Sunday

1:00pm ET/10:00am PT - (7) Philadelphia Eagles at (2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s pick: Tampa Bay

I think the Eagles can possibly have success in this game if they establish the run early (Philadelphia currently leads the NFL in rushing yards/game at 159.7), but that will be easier said than done; the Buccaneers employ some fierce run stoppers on defense. This game may be closer than we anticipate (closer than 8.5 points, in my opinion), but I will not be betting against Brady this early in the playoffs. I like the Bucs to win by a single score. Worth mentioning: The Tampa area has a 25% chance of rain on Sunday morning.

Shane’s pick: Tampa Bay

Philadelphia is in a great long-term situation, with three first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and a quarterback they have more belief in than his predecessor. But the Eagles didn’t beat a single playoff team during their 9-8 campaign. Can’t possibly imagine that trend ends against Tom Brady and the defending champs.

4:30pm ET/1:30 pm PT - (6) San Francisco 49ers at (3) Dallas Cowboys

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates as he leaves the field after defeating the Los Angeles Rams.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates as he leaves the field after defeating the Los Angeles Rams. / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s pick: San Francisco

As of Tuesday, I have already locked in San Francisco +3 and u50.5, but I am also confident in the 49ers winning outright in Dallas. The Cowboys have plenty of firepower on offense, but QB Dak Prescott still looks a little physically bothered. If S.F. can smother Zeke, Pollard, and the rest of Dallas’ run-game, I love the 49ers’ chances. Also, I do see 50 as a key number in this game; if the combined point total stays under 50, I believe that favors San Francisco. However, if the point total eclipses 50.5, I’d expect Dallas to be on the winning end. 

Shane’s pick: Dallas

This game was the toughest to predict, but the Cowboys look like the better team on paper. Dallas finished the 2021 season on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, which was made possible by a convincing Week 18 performance against Philadelphia backups. The 49ers needed some late-game heroics to even get to the big dance, so give me the Cowboys in a close one.

8:15pm ET/5:15 pm PT - (7) Pittsburgh Steelers at (2) Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones (95) and defensive end Frank Clark (55) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) pose for pictures.
Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones (95) and defensive end Frank Clark (55) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) pose for pictures. / William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s pick: Kansas City

Yeah, no need to go into much detail, here. Sorry Steeler fans, but Pittsburgh is the one team in the postseason that I feel does not deserve to be. Their offense has struggled behind a meek offensive line for most of the year, and I think that bodes well for a Chiefs’ defensive front seven that wreaks havoc. On Tuesday, K.C. is laying 13 points — I see the Chiefs covering that come Sunday night.

Shane’s pick: Kansas City

The Chiefs are favored by 13 points in the largest spread of Wild Card weekend, and yet, that might not be enough since they won by 26 in the regular-season meeting against the Steelers just three weeks ago. Expect the playoff rematch to be much of the same, if not worse.

Monday

8:15pm ET/5:15pm PT - (5) Arizona Cardinals at (4) Los Angeles Rams

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at State Farm Stadium.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at State Farm Stadium. / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s pick: Los Angeles

Despite losing to San Francisco in the regular season finale, the Rams were able to clinch the NFC West thanks to Seattle defeating Arizona. Because of this, L.A. will now host the rival-Cardinals instead of vice versa. Both sides have shown mixed results as of late, but remember, Arizona will be without all-pro DeAndre Hopkins the rest of the way. In the two head-to-head games between the Rams and Cardinals this season, the home team won both times. Come Monday, I see the Rams defense making life difficult for Kyler Murray and Co. I like L.A. straight up and -4. Also, look for Matthew Stafford to come into the postseason motivated (a whole career in Detroit can make a player hungry). 

Shane’s pick: Arizona

I got to this point and was disappointed to realize I hadn’t actually picked an underdog to win outright, despite liking a majority of the underdogs from a betting perspective. Football is often more complicated than just who is the better quarterback, but I do like Kyler Murray to outduel Matthew Stafford in the finale of Super Wild Card weekend.


Divisional round

Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s picks

Cincinnati over Tennessee — I’m going with the hot hand here, and I expect Burrow to play well against the Raiders in the Wild Card round. His main target, OROY frontrunner Ja’Marr Chase has been everywhere this year and will cause the Titans problems. I respect that Tennessee is a complete team, but I think the Bengals have the offensive weapons to make the Titans vulnerable. Of course, Tennessee has not missed a beat in the run game; they may even have Derrick Henry back for this contest. However, I see this game coming down to the final possession for each side, in which case, I trust Burrow more than Tannehill. 

Kansas City over Buffalo — When the Chiefs are executing their offensive game plan, there aren’t many units in the NFL that can hang with them. With HC Andy Reid still pulling the strings, I like the Chiefs against a Bills team that has looked quite poor in some weeks. Buffalo QB Josh Allen is absolutely a top-5 talent at the quarterback position, but he still commits a few head-scratching plays every game. I trust Patrick Mahomes to be the difference in this game, and sometimes, that’s all you need to say. 

Green Bay over San Francisco — Aaron Rodgers is a guy who seems big on revenge, so you know he plays with a chip everytime he sees the 49ers. His childhood team that famously passed on him in the 2006 NFL draft, San Francisco always seems to play Rodgers and the Pack fairly tough. However, the 49ers have not won a playoff game at Lambeau since the 2014 Wild Card round (under Harbaugh and Kaepernick). This time around, I see the Packers as being too much for the 49ers in cold weather, especially with Garoppolo still nursing a thumb injury. At the frozen tundra, I see my 49ers being eliminated.

Tampa Bay over Los Angeles — We have seen this matchup already once this season: Week 3 in L.A. The Rams won that night 34-24, but I think Brady and the Bucs are able to turn the tables in Tampa. My favorite thing about the Bucs is how the offense complements the defense; on both sides of the ball, they boast playmakers that can take over a game. The Rams and Bucs are built relatively similar though, so this is definitely a contest that can go either way. If Brady gets the ball late within a single score, then I expect him to do what he’s always done in those moments: Play mistake free football and get the job done. 

Shane’s picks

Tennessee over Cincinnati — The Titans are just fourth team to get the 1 seed with five losses, joining the 1989 Broncos, 1992 Steelers, and 2002 Raiders. Yet two of those three teams did reach the Super Bowl, illustrating that both the bye and home field are such a huge advantage. With Tennessee getting healthy at the right time, I like the Titans to reach the AFC title game.

Kansas City over Buffalo — If this is how the playoff bracket unfolded, this might be the game of the weekend and postseason. I could make the case for either team, as these two squads are No. 2 and No. 3 in Super Bowl odds for a reason. In the end, I am taking the Chiefs to make it back to the AFC Championship game for the fourth year in a row.

Green Bay over Arizona — We saw this matchup on Thursday Night Football in Week 8, when there seemed to be some miscommunication between Kyler Murray and AJ Green on the final play of Arizona’s 24-21 loss. I like the Packers to take care of business once again after having a couple weeks of rest ahead of this matchup.

Dallas over Tampa Bay — After struggling with my Dallas pick the first weekend, I am taking the Cowboys to knock off the defending champs. We forget how crazy of a run the Buccaneers had last postseason, winning three road games in the NFC playoffs and finding a lot of success — perhaps even unsustainable — on third downs. This would be a rematch of the thrilling season opener, but the Cowboys come away with the more meaningful victory.


Conference championship

The Buccaneers defense stifled Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' second-half comeback attempt.
The Buccaneers defense stifled Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' second-half comeback attempt. / Dan Powers via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Gabe’s picks

Cincinnati over Kansas City — I made this call in their regular season matchup this year, and was met with confused and condescending eyes. Well, the Bengals wound up winning late (and controversially), and I ended up cashing! And I think there is potential for Cincinnati to upset K.C. for the second time this year. The Chiefs have a ferocious pass rush, but their secondary is porous. Bengals’ WR Ja’Marr ran rampant against Kansas City defensive backfield, and he is far from Cincy’s only offensive weapon; the cast of Chase, Mixon, Higgins, Boyd, and Uzomah presents major problems for the Chiefs’ roster. Call me crazy again, but I see the Bengals as the team to knock out almighty-Kansas City. 

Green Bay over Tampa Bay — In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game (at the same venue), I see Green Bay finally getting back over the hump. Historically, conference championships have not been the most kind to Aaron Rodgers; he’s 1-4 there over his career. With that said, I believe he is still playing at a high enough level to get back to the Super Bowl (and possibly high enough to win back-to-back AP MVP awards). The Pack had a great chance last year against Tampa Bay, but fell short after some late, questionable decision-making. I am confident Green Bay rights their wrongs and operates with a little more care this time around. Holding the No. 1 seed, I see Green Bay winning the NFC and heading to Rodgers’ home state to play for all the marbles. 

Shane’s picks

Kansas City over Tennessee — The Titans might be getting healthy, and will have the luxury of playing at home with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. But it is hard to pick against the Chiefs winning a third-straight AFC crown, as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center and Andy Reid is on the sideline.

Green Bay over Dallas — This would be a compelling matchup between two historic franchises. The Packers are favored, for a reason, to come out on top of an otherwise wide-open playoff race. Aaron Rodgers is on track to win his second consecutive MVP. Matt LaFleur is one of the best coaches in the sport. Surely this is the time for the Packers to win the NFC for the first time since 2010.


Super Bowl

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) stands next to head coach Matt LaFleur during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) stands next to head coach Matt LaFleur during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions. / Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe’s pick 

Green Bay over Cincinnati — A bit of a refreshing Super Bowl (no Brady, Mahomes, or Belichick), I think we get a high-scoring, action-packed affair. We’ll get the reigning MVP with an unknown future against a squad that is only a year removed from finishing last in their division. The Bengals are littered with young talent, but I am leaning on the experience of Rodgers and Adams here. Additionally, Packers HC Matt LaFleur has had a spectacular season, and has clearly gained the trust of AR12. I believe the two men reach their pinnacle together this season, outdueling Cincinnati for Rodgers’ second and final Lombardi Trophy. 

Shane’s pick

Kansas City over Green Bay — The Chiefs have won nine of their last 10 games entering the playoff, with their lone loss coming against the Bengals in a game that was greatly impacted by some questionable officiating and even worse coaching decisions. Don’t let that contest fool you, because the Chiefs are as hot as anyone entering the playoffs. Kansas City’s path might be more difficult without the bye, but I think people are going to regret burying this team back in October.

New to wagering on sports? For all you need to know, check out our "Sports Betting 101" series! (hosted by Claudia Bellofatto)
New to wagering on sports? For all you need to know, check out our "Sports Betting 101" series! (hosted by Claudia Bellofatto)
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