2019 NFL Playoff Bracket Prediction: Chiefs top Saints in Super Bowl to give Andy Reid his first Lombardi Trophy

There are just three games left in the 2018 NFL season. All three should be great -- today's games are fantastic and it's hard to imagine the incredible group of four teams left in the NFL playoff bracket producing a bad Super Bowl matchup -- and there are some pretty wide ranging implications from the various outcomes that could occur. 

New England might want to go out with a bang. If the Patriots win, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (and Bill Belichick?) could all walk away. The Chiefs want to win Andy Reid's first Super Bowl. The Rams could send a message that hiring Sean McVay's minions is a smart move and they're building a budding dynasty of their own. The Saints would punctuate Drew Brees career with a second Super Bowl that would stir chatter about his rank among the pantheon of quarterbacks. 

Talk me into any of the matchups too: Rams-Chiefs 2.0 would be just lovely, and watching Belichick scheme up to stop Los Angeles or New Orleans would be a blast. Chiefs-Saints? All the marbles.

CNET has made its Super Bowl TV picks for every budget, which you can check out here.

Anyway, let's get to a playoff bracket projection. Here's what the bracket looks like so far:

via CBS Sports

Good news: Last year's conference championship prediction was correct in that it nailed who would win the Super Bowl, as I had the Eagles (underdogs at home once again and in both of their remaining games) winning a title. Bad news: I can't be correct with either of my earlier projections from this season. Before the playoffs began I took the Chargers to beat the Saints and then before last round I had the Patriots toppling the Cowboys

So much for the wild cards making noise. We should have seen four popular underdogs as a giant red flag and yet some of us just steamed unabated into the bear trap waiting in the divisional round. Will the favorites win again? Over the last five years, home teams are a stunning 10-0 straight up in conference championship games and an even more stunning 8-2 against the spread in those games.

The only teams not to cover? New England last year against the Jaguars, when the Patriots were favored by a silly 7.5 points (they would win by four, but the Jags should have won, Myles Jack was down, whatever) and the Seahawks, who were 8.5-point favorites over the Packers after the 2013 season. Seattle needed overtime and multiple miracles to beat Aaron Rodgers in that game. 

In the three years leading up to this wild run of home domination, home teams were 2-4 straight up. But extend it to the full five years prior and you have home teams going 6-4 straight up in conference championship games. From 2008 through 2012, those home teams went 5-5 against the spread. Chalk's been chalky lately. 

The Chiefs are currently getting most of the bets and most of the money (per The Action Network), while the visiting Rams are actually attracting most of the best and money. I only agree with half. To the projection machine:

Patriots at Chiefs (-3)

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New England -- and its Hall of Fame quarterback, specifically -- feels slighted by the disrespect the Patriots are getting this year. Don't blame anyone for feeling that way, but does it ultimately matter when they're going to play a Chiefs team knowing how much respect the Patriots have gotten over the years? Brady is playing in his eight straight AFC Championship Game, and it will be just the eighth road playoff start of his career. He owns the record for most playoff starts in NFL history and just eight of them will be on the road after this season (not counting neutral sites obviously). That's a testament to the Pats dominance during the regular season and their ability to secure homefield advantage. 

The road has not been kind to Mr. Brady however. He is just 3-4 all time on the road in the playoffs, and has only eight touchdowns to eight interceptions in those games. He has never played in Arrowhead Stadium in a playoff game before; this is the first time the Chiefs will ever host the AFC Championship Game. Brady lost his last three road playoff games as well, including a pair of games (2013, 2015) against the Broncos. He also lost a game to the Colts in the AFC Championship Game after the 2006 season. That feels like a lifetime ago.

Kansas City doesn't have the same sort of defense those Broncos teams had, but they looked darn good against the Colts. Additionally, Brady has some demons in Arrowhead, having only played three games there in his career but somehow managing six interceptions to just three touchdowns. 

I really don't like going against the Patriots, but I think this is the Chiefs time. Give me Mahomes with a huge game against a questionable defense that can't do what it did to the Chargers against the Chiefs and an MVP effort from the second-year quarterback against a Belichick defense he's seen once already. 

Rams at Saints (-3.5)

I also like the Saints, who looked a little sloppy against the Eagles early on but should have shaken off their rust at this point in time. The Saints can run the ball effectively, and the Rams will need a next-level effort from Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald in order to hold up against Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. They produced that effort against the Cowboys, but it's asking a lot to do it two weeks in a row, especially against a more dangerous offense with much better coaching backed by a much better passing attack. 

Drew Brees missed on some throws against the Eagles, otherwise the Saints hit the over and maybe end up blasting Philly in that game. The Eagles didn't score after their first two touchdowns in the first quarter, which is a testament to the Saints' ability to step up on defense.

Los Angeles presents a much bigger challenge, of course. We saw what Sean McVay did against the Cowboys' stout front seven. He perplexed a young, talented defense with all his eye candy and jet sweeps and motions and play action, and it opened up the running game for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. The Rams getting to rest Gurley some is a big deal: he might be full speed for this matchup. 

And yet, the Superdome is too dangerous for me to buy that the Saints won't manage to matriculate through the bracket. They've been the best team in football all year long, they've got homefield advantage, they've got a better quarterback and a better coach. They advance.

Chiefs (+1) vs. Saints

What a freaking matchup. Maybe the two greatest offensive minds of the last decade in Andy Reid and Sean Payton going head to head, with everything on the line. Mahomes vs. Brees, with one of them winning MVP the night before the Super Bowl and the other being supremely motivated to remind the world why he should have won. Tons of weapons on both sides of the ball, unique toys like Kamara and Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, deployed by offensive masterminds.

It's going to be a shootout, because it's in a dome (and one the Saints know well, plus they'll be in the Falcons' locker room, which is something) and because neither team has an elite defense. 

There will be questions about Reid's playoff issues in terms of clock management, and we might see something insane -- a second-half onside kick? -- from Payton at some point. This game will go back and forth, because neither team is out of it with the offense they have. 

But I take the Chiefs to win and get that Lombardi for an incredibly emotional Reid, who secures his place in the pantheon of the greatest coaches of all time.

SUPER BOWL PREDICTION: Chiefs 38, Saints 35

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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