2021 NFL Playoff Bracket Projection: First-round byes repay as Chiefs defeat Packers in Tremendous Bowl LV


The NFL common season is over, the playoff bracket has been established and we will now spend our time breaking down some matchups. Whereas Tremendous Wild-Card Weekend is what’s on everybody’s minds proper now, that will not cease us from trying forward and projecting how this bracket will play out. That is what CBS Sports activities has charged me with, since they apparently need to see my identify on the Outdated Takes Uncovered Twitter account. 

There’s a lot to look at in terms of the playoffs this 12 months, as only one workforce from every convention obtained a first-round bye as a result of added postseason slots. Is that one thing that ensures the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Inexperienced Bay Packers a spot within the convention championship recreation, or will it even matter? Let’s go forward and dive into this juicy bracket.  

All NFL odds are by way of William Hill Sportsbook.  

Tremendous Wild-Card Weekend

(7) Colts at (2) Payments: Sat., Jan. 9, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

Newest Odds:

Buffalo Payments

The Payments are in search of their first playoff victory because the 1995 season, as they’ve misplaced their final six postseason video games. Final 12 months’s was particularly brutal, as they blew a 16-0 result in the Houston Texans within the second half. This workforce is completely different, nevertheless, and a giant motive for that has been the evolution of star quarterback Josh Allen. The Payments are the fourth workforce during the last 40 seasons to enter the playoffs on an eight-game cowl streak. The three groups earlier than all of them lined the unfold of their first playoff recreation and gained by a minimum of 12 factors. Moreover, Indy has did not cowl in every of its final three video games, which is the longest energetic streak by a playoff workforce. I’ll go forward and take the Payments to advance right here. 

Projected rating: Payments 31-24
The decide: Payments -6.5

(6) Rams at (3) Seahawks: Sat., Jan. 9, 4:40 p.m. ET (CBS)

Newest Odds:

Seattle Seahawks

The Rams had a horrible displaying towards the Seahawks in Week 16 regardless of beating this workforce earlier within the 12 months. Seattle is on a four-game win streak and in addition has a much-improved protection that has allowed simply a median of 16 factors per recreation during the last eight contests. That mark ranks greatest within the league. With Jared Goff’s standing up within the air, I’ll decide the Seahawks to win and canopy. 

Projected rating: Seahawks 24-10
The decide: Seahawks -3.5

(5) Buccaneers at (4) Washington: Sat., Jan. 9, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)

Newest Odds:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chase Younger wished Tom Brady, and he will get him this weekend. The Bucs’ new quarterback goes to have his work reduce out for him towards this formidable defensive entrance, however can Younger and Co. apply sufficient strain to drag off the upset? Most likely not, particularly when you think about the truth that Washington will probably use two quarterbacks towards Tampa Bay resulting from Alex Smith’s harm. Whereas I’ve the Buccaneers successful this recreation, the unfold is a special query. Brady has performed horribly in primetime this 12 months, so I am leaning in direction of Washington protecting.  

Projected rating: Buccaneers 27-21
The decide: Washington +8

(5) Ravens at (4) Titans: Solar., Jan. 10, 1:05 p.m. ET (ABC)

Newest Odds:

Baltimore Ravens

Since Lamar Jackson has recovered from COVID-19, the Ravens are 5-0 straight up and towards the unfold. Throughout this streak, they’ve rushed for 1,337 yards — which is probably the most in any five-game span within the Tremendous Bowl Period. Final 12 months within the divisional spherical, Tennessee upset Baltimore, 28-12, as a 10-point street underdog. The Ravens obtained an opportunity to actual revenge this 12 months in Week 11, however as an alternative fell 30-24 in time beyond regulation. The third time’s the attraction, proper? This is the place I can see the primary “upset” taking place within the postseason.

Projected rating: Ravens 34-27
The decide: Ravens -3.5

(7) Bears at (2) Saints: Solar., Jan. 10, 4:40 p.m. ET (CBS)

Newest Odds:

New Orleans Saints

The Saints have had horrible luck within the playoffs, as they’re 0-3 towards the unfold within the postseason over the previous two years. One other factor they don’t have going for them is that the Bears are .500. Since 2000, groups to make the playoffs at .500 or worse are an ideal 7-0 towards the unfold of their first playoff recreation. Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara will do sufficient to get out of Tremendous Wild-Card Weekend this 12 months, however protecting this massive of a variety could possibly be an excessive amount of. Possibly we are going to see the Bears safe a backdoor cowl. 

Projected rating: Saints 30-24
The decide: Bears +10

(6) Browns at (3) Steelers: Solar., Jan. 10, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)

Newest Odds:

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Browns misplaced to the Steelers by 31 factors in Week 6 earlier this season, after which defeated Pittsburgh’s backups this previous weekend by simply two factors regardless of being 10-point favorites. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers could not look like the Tremendous Bowl favorites we as soon as thought they had been, however they will deal with Baker Mayfield and the Browns. One more reason I am leaning in direction of Pittsburgh is as a result of Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, two different coaches and offensive guard Joel Bitonio and extensive receiver KhaDarel Hodge examined constructive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. It is wild, even when the Browns make the playoffs, they should endure a training change.*

*Joke courtesy of Ken Carman, CBS Sports activities Radio*

Projected rating: Steelers 35-25
The decide: Steelers -6

Divisional spherical (Sat., Jan. 16 and Solar., Jan 17) 

(3) Steelers at (2) Payments

If the Steelers and Payments are usually not upset in Tremendous Wild-Card Weekend, then we are going to get the rematch head coach Mike Tomlin was most likely hoping for. Again in December, Allen and the Payments dealt with the Steelers and not using a drawback in primetime, 26-15. Roethlisberger threw for simply 187 yards whereas Stefon Diggs exploded for 130 yards and a landing on 10 catches. When you needed to decide one workforce that posed the best risk to the Chiefs within the AFC, it might most likely be the Payments. Everybody desires to see these two groups face off within the convention championship recreation, however I am going towards the grain on this one. I believe that the Steelers exorcised some demons with their comeback win over the Colts in Week 15, after which giving Roethlisberger some relaxation proper earlier than the playoffs will certainly assist this workforce as effectively. One other AFC upset right here within the divisional spherical. 

Projected rating: Steelers 28-27

(3) Seahawks at (2) Saints

With Seattle’s improved protection after which the return of Michael Thomas for New Orleans, I believe this divisional matchup goes to be a lot nearer than individuals are anticipating. I say this recreation comes all the way down to the wire, however Brees leads a game-winning drive late within the fourth quarter to advance to the convention championship recreation. 

Projected rating: Saints 31-24

(5) Ravens at (1) Chiefs

Earlier than I actually dove into this mission, I used to be trying on the matchups for Tremendous Wild-Card Weekend and located the Baltimore vs. Tennessee matchup very fascinating. I struggled to select a winner, however felt just like the eventual victor could possibly be a candidate to make a run on the AFC Championship. Then, I noticed if there are not any different upsets on the AFC facet of the bracket, that the Titans or Ravens can be the very best seed, and must play the Chiefs within the divisional spherical! That is a tragedy. 

These two groups confronted off in Week 3, and even if the Ravens had been favored, they had been dominated, 34-20. Patrick Mahomes threw for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns, however it was the protection that actually gained the sport for Kansas Metropolis. The Chiefs secondary held Jackson to simply 97 passing yards and one landing, as they put the burden on him to throw precisely downfield, and he couldn’t achieve this successfully. Count on the Chiefs to copy that defensive recreation plan if these two groups face off through the course of the postseason. Whereas I really like this Ravens workforce and suppose that they’ve the potential to make a deep run, having to play the Chiefs within the divisional spherical is a nightmare state of affairs. 

Projected rating: Chiefs 35-28

(5) Buccaneers at (1) Packers

This season, the Buccaneers went 1-5 vs. eventual playoff groups and 10-0 vs. non-playoff groups. The one eventual playoff workforce they defeated this 12 months was really the Packers again in October. It was a bizarre recreation, because the Packers jumped out to a 10-0 lead earlier than the Bucs put collectively a 38-0 run within the second and third quarters to stroll away with a win. Brady threw two touchdowns, however it was Ronald Jones who was the star, as he rushed for 113 yards and two scores as effectively. This might change into a classy upset decide within the divisional spherical, however the Packers might be contemporary coming off of their first-round bye and can have ideas of avenging that regular-season loss to Brady, whereas Tampa Bay’s offensive line will nonetheless be nursing a few of the bumps and bruises they obtained from Washington’s defensive entrance. 

Projected rating: Packers 24-21

Championship spherical

(2) Saints at (1) Packers: Solar., Jan. 24, 3:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

So my bracket within the NFC was fairly chalk, which might be one thing I’ll come to remorse. However the Saints and the Packers are the 2 greatest groups within the NFC in my view, and I am going to go forward and predict they meet within the NFC Championship recreation. These two groups really met on “Sunday Night time Soccer” again in September, and the Packers escaped the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a 37-30 win. Aaron Rodgers did not even want Davante Adams, as Allen Lazard led all receivers with 146 yards and a landing, whereas Rodgers threw three scores. Brees additionally threw three scores however it was Kamara who saved New Orleans within the recreation, as he accounted for 197 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Will the return of Thomas be sufficient for the Saints to alter the result this time round, or are the Packers destined to go to the Tremendous Bowl after coming so shut final 12 months? Sadly, I’ve Brees retiring with out successful one other Tremendous Bowl, because the Packers get again to the large recreation. 

Projected rating: Packers 30-23

(3) Steelers at (1) Chiefs: Solar., Jan. 24, 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)

Pittsburgh completed the common season with the fewest sacks allowed (14) and probably the most defensive sacks recorded (56), so this ought to be an fascinating matchup in terms of inspecting either side of the ball. However with how inconsistent this Steelers secondary has been and with the entire weapons the Chiefs have on offense, it is going to be onerous not to decide on Kansas Metropolis to repeat as AFC champions. The Chiefs enter the postseason because the favorites to win Tremendous Bowl LV, and I’ve them on the very least repeating as house owners of the convention.

Projected rating: Chiefs 31-21 

Tremendous Bowl LV

(1) Packers vs. (1) Chiefs: Solar., Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

Articles might be written in regards to the significance of securing the first-round bye on this new playoff construction heading into Tremendous Bowl weekend, as I predict each groups who didn’t play in Tremendous Wild-Card Weekend might be enjoying within the last recreation of the 2020 NFL season. Each the Chiefs and Packers characteristic explosive offenses, which suggests it may come all the way down to which protection finds probably the most success on Tremendous Bowl Sunday. Matt LaFleur is on his approach to a really, very profitable NFL teaching profession, however Andy Reid and Mahomes seem able to repeat as NFL champs. 

Projected rating: Chiefs 30-28 


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