2019 NFL Playoffs Bracket Projection: Chargers beat Saints as Philip Rivers earns first Super Bowl win
Projecting out the 2019 NFL playoff bracket ahead of the 2019 NFL postseason
The postseason field is set and the NFL postseason schedule is largely locked in. Now it's time to make some picks. There's no better way than to get really out there and project the full 2019 NFL playoff bracket, which is what I'll do in between every single round.
For now that involves looking at the actual wild-card matchups and ripping through those, then continuing on with all the matchups. It's a projection, not a prediction, but you won't care when you yell at me on Twitter (@WillBrinson).
Make sure and check out all of our picks for the playoffs on the Pick Six Podcast -- the daily NFL pod hosted by yours truly, subscribe right here -- and listen to our breakdown of the playoff field and Week 17 recap below.
All spreads after the wild card round are my projections.
Wild card round
The two division rivals meet for the third time this year in a rubber match to see who will move on to the next round. This is a total toss-up for me: their previous two meetings were decided by a total of six points and I think Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson are a wash in a big-stage game. The one edge I like here? The Colts offensive line can potentially neutralize the Texans' biggest strength of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. I'll lean Colts in an upset.
Maybe I'm too confident in Russell Wilson but I can't find myself looking any direction but the Seahawks here. They have the playoff experience at coach and quarterback and that's a huge plus. Jason Garrett will go back to playing conservative and I believe the Seahawks defense can contain the Cowboys offense enough to steal a road win.
The last time a rookie quarterback beat a top-10 defense in a playoff game? 2008, when Joe Flacco pulled it off. I love me some Lamar Jackson, but the Chargers defense and Joey Bosa come to play in this one. I don't believe the Ravens defense can fool Philip Rivers twice and I think we see the Chargers eek out a road win.
The Eagles are a miracle story thanks to Nick Foles once again dragging them back to the postseason. But this is a different story than last year: asking Philly to go into Chicago and beat the best defense in football is too much. The Bears roll in this game behind a surprisingly huge game from Mitchell Trubisky.
(6) Colts at (1) Chiefs (-6.5) - Sat., Jan. 12, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC)
Mr. Luck gets to see Mr. Reid again. And the over/under would be skyjacked for this game. The Colts are a team that can beat the Chiefs: they play tough defense and have the kind of methodical running game that can wear down the Chiefs defense. I just always back Andy Reid off a bye and I'm going to back him here with two weeks to prep.
(3) Bears at (2) Rams (-3.5) - Sat., Jan. 12, 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
A rematch from an outstanding Sunday night game (if you like defense and young quarterbacks completely overwhelmed by cold, windy conditions). I'm gonna lean towards the Bears here again, even though it's not going to feature nasty Chicago conditions.
(5) Chargers at (2) Patriots (-6) - Sun., Jan. 13, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
UPSET TIME BABY. If the Chargers can handle the physical style of the Ravens, they can go into Foxboro and beat the Patriots. Philip Rivers owes Bill Belichick and Tom Brady a measure or two of revenge, and after getting the Chiefs monkey off his back, he can go win one in New England.
(5) Seahawks at (1) Saints (-7.5) - Sun., Jan. 13, 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX)
This is a spot I'd love to take the Seahawks to win. Maybe that spread is too big? I just don't think anyone is strolling into New Orleans in the playoffs and taking out Drew Brees and Sean Payton. If anyone could do it, it's Russell Wilson, but the Saints are too lethal at home with a week to prepare.
(5) Chargers at Chiefs (-5) - Sun., Jan. 20, TBD (CBS)
What a glorious rematch this would be. The second time these teams played was one of the best games of the year, a thrilling playoff-type matchup that had hearts pounding everywhere. Speaking of hearts, my heart says Philip Rivers can beat the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes twice in one season and my head is telling me to shut up and pick the Chiefs. This is a pre-playoffs projection, though, so I don't have to listen to my head. Andy Reid vs. Rivers with a chance for the Super Bowl is all the narrative marbles.
(3) Bears at (1) Saints (-4.5) - Sun., Jan. 20, TBD (FOX)
Incredible clash in styles here, with the dangerous Bears defense going up against Brees and the Saints offense. Unfortunately for Chicago, New Orleans can block and run well and I don't know if the Bears have the depth to keep up with the Saints on their home turf. I would probably back the Bears to cover here, but I'll take the Saints to advance. Betting on them to lose at home in the playoffs is not a profitable enterprise.
Super Bowl LIII
Chargers vs. Saints (-4.5) - Feb. 3, 2019, (CBS)
EPIC SUPER BOWL. Rivers vs. Brees, the former teammates in San Diego, with Brees trying to add another layer to his Hall of Fame legacy with a second Super Bowl and Rivers trying to win his first and cement himself as a Hall of Fame player (I think he is one already, no one would be able to argue it if he won a title). The over/under for this game would be in the low 60s and these teams would get LOOSE on the big stage. This was the Super Bowl I wanted to pick before the season and I chickened out. Now I get a chance to redeem myself. And Rivers gets a chance to rewrite history, taking out the Saints for his first Super Bowl ring and a brilliant cap on an incredible career.
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