The NFL season is just nine days away, and training camps are heating up, with padded practices in full swing. With the season nearing, the time has come for NFL Season Predictions, and my co-host (Chris) and I discussed our predictions for every team in our latest edition of Second and Goal Sports Talk. In this article, I'll be analyzing my predictions for the NFC Championship, the AFC Championship, and the Super Bowl. For our full NFL season predictions, check out our prediction show, which can be found using the link below.
NFC Championship (San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints)
The 49ers were very close to winning the Super Bowl last year, and they will be looking to make it to the Super Bowl again this year. After earning the top seed in the NFC and receiving the conference bye, I predicted the 49ers to defeat the sixth-seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round. In my predictions, the second-seeded Saints, who have had playoff struggles in the past, defeated the seventh-seeded Vikings, who defeated New Orleans in the 2017 and 2019 NFL Playoffs. Next, I had the Saints pull off an impressive victory against the fifth-seeded Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round to set up a matchup against the 49ers. The game would be a classic hard-fought matchup between a great offense and a great defense. The 49ers, with their stacked defensive line, will be able to get lots of pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but he will hold up just enough to throw a couple of touchdown passes, one to Michael Thomas, and the other to Jared Cook. The 49ers will struggle to get going on offense - quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will throw multiple interceptions in the game - and two touchdowns (one rushing) and a field goal will be the sum of the 49ers's scoring. Alvin Kamara - who is certainly one of the most talented running backs in the league - should score a touchdown as well, and a field goal by Saints's kicker Wil Lutz makes the final score 24-17 in the Saints' favor.
AFC Championship (Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens)
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Chiefs and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes made it back to the AFC Championship game. The slightly more surprising appearance is the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have not proven that they are capable of winning in the playoffs, with a disappointing first-round exit last year. The disappointment ends now. After getting a gift in the form of a first-round matchup with the relatively weak Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens - boosted by the momentum from that win - should take down the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round. The Chiefs earned a first-round bye in my predictions, and Mahomes should carry the Chiefs through their Divisional Round matchup against the New England Patriots. The AFC Championship this year will be - as you would expect - very high-scoring. The Chiefs's offense will live up to the hype, but the defense will have a very tough time containing Lamar Jackson. Jackson should run all over Kansas City, and the Ravens's defense should do just enough to hand Kansas City the loss. Baltimore could only hope to contain Patrick Mahomes, and new additions Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen should step up and help an already-solid defense do just enough to earn the victory. The final score will be 42-38 in favor of the Ravens, and Lamar Jackson will be in his first career Super Bowl.
Super Bowl (New Orleans Saints vs. Baltimore Ravens)
Throughout Super Bowl week, the pressure looms in New Orleans, and the consensus becomes that - whether it is correct or not - this season is Drew Brees's last chance to win a second Super Bowl. The Ravens will come out sizzling, but clever play-calling by Sean Payton as well as some amazing throws by Brees should keep the Saints ahead for most of this game. The Ravens will have a chance to come back, but Lamar Jackson's youth means that he hasn't led very many fourth-quarter comebacks in his career. The Saints will hold on 27-24, and the 42-year-old Drew Brees (he will be 42 in January) will have his second career Super Bowl title.
After the Super Bowl, people will speculate and wonder if Brees will come back for another year, or retire on top. However, Brees was still playing at a high level in the playoffs, and seeing no reason to retire yet, he will come back for at least one more season in New Orleans. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, meanwhile, will still be salty after their Super Bowl loss, and throughout the offseason, they will be scheming up ways to win the Super Bowl in 2022.