NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: TV Schedule and Super Bowl Predictions

John HealyContributor IJanuary 3, 2019

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs are finally here, and Wild Card Weekend kicks into full swing on Saturday when the AFC South champion Houston Texans host divisional rival Indianapolis Colts. 

The Seattle Seahawks will visit the Dallas Cowboys for the later game. Sunday will see the Baltimore Ravens host the Los Angeles Chargers, while the Chicago Bears and visiting Philadelphia Eagles round out the weekend. 

All home teams are favored, with the Texans and Cowboys holding the thinnest margin at -1.5 while the Bears hold the largest at -6, per OddsShark

The final week of the season featured the Bears helping the Eagles get in by defeating the Minnesota Vikings while the Ravens clinched the AFC North title with a thriller over the Cleveland Browns in what was a frenzied Week 17. 

It is a good way to go into January as we take a look at the TV schedule of the wild-card matchups and even offer some potential predictions for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. 

        

Wild-Card Round

Saturday, Jan. 5

No. 6 Indianapolis Colts at No. 3 Houston Texans, 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC

No. 5 Seattle Seahawks at No. 4 Dallas Cowboys, 8:15 p.m. ET, Fox

       

Sunday, Jan. 6

No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers at No. 4 Baltimore Ravens, 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS

No. 6 Philadelphia Eagles at No. 3 Chicago Bears, 4:40 p.m. ET, NBC

        

Divisional Round

Saturday, Jan. 12

No. 4, 5 or 6 AFC seed at No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs, 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC

No. 3, 4 or 5 NFC seed at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. ET, Fox

        

Sunday, Jan. 13

No. 3, 4 or 5 NFC seed at No. 2 New England Patriots, 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS

No. 4, 5 or 6 NFC seed at No. 1 New Orleans Saints, 4:40 p.m. ET, Fox

         

Conference Championships

Sunday, Jan. 20

NFC Championship Game, 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox

AFC Championship Game, 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS

        

Super Bowl LIII

Sunday, Feb. 3

AFC champion vs. NFC champion in Atlanta, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS

        

Predictions

The game to keep an eye on this weekend in the AFC will be between the Ravens and Chargers.

Baltimore enters the postseason winning six of its last seven games, including a win over the Chargers on the road in Week 16. They carry the No. 1 ranked defense, which allowed an average of 292.9 yards per game—the fewest in the NFL. 

The Ravens could be poised for a deep run, but the Chargers tied for the most wins in the AFC (12) and their only loss in the last six weeks was the one to Baltimore.

They will also be the first team that will play Lamar Jackson a second time, but it may not make a difference as Philip Rivers struggled against the Ravens' stingy defense that will have home-field advantage this time around, too. 

A Ravens win with a Texans victory over the Colts would set up a rematch against the Chiefs. In the latest meeting, the Ravens nearly won before Patrick Mahomes' late-game heroics.

Should the Ravens exact revenge and the Patriots take care of Houston, suddenly the AFC Championship Game goes through Foxborough and sets up the opportunity for Tom Brady to go to his ninth Super Bowl.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts during the first quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Imag
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Patriots have won four of the last seven AFC Championship Games and lost at home just once—to the Ravens in 2012.

While this Patriots team may not be as dangerous as past ones, it is hard to see Bill Belichick and Co. lose at home to a team that has a run-heavy offense. It is also hard to see that offense sustain throughout the playoffs—especially if the Ravens need to play from behind in the fourth quarter at any point. 

AFC: Patriots over Ravens

        

The game to watch this weekend in the NFC is between the Bears and defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. Philadelphia is riding high on the magic of backup quarterback Nick Foles for the second consecutive year, and thanks to the Bears beating the Vikings, the Eagles are back but on the road in Chicago in January. 

While the Eagles have the experience, the Bears defense is third-best in the NFL, allowing an average of 299.7 yards per game. They have a league-high 36 takeaways, and Khalil Mack is coming off a season in which he had 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. 

The Bears defense is downright scary, and it should carry them past Philadelphia and even past the Rams, whom they held to six points and 214 total yards earlier this year. 

Yet the NFC goes through New Orleans, and it is the Saints' to lose. While the Cowboys defeated them earlier this season, it will be a much different story in the Superdome, where Drew Brees has a 21-1 touchdown to interception ratio this season. The Cowboys were 3-5 on the road, and Dak Prescott is a different quarterback away from Dallas. 

A Saints-Bears NFC Championship Game would pit offense vs. defense, but the Saints have enough playmakers on defense to keep this interesting. When it comes down to who can make a big play at the end of the game, it is more likely Brees than second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. 

NFC Prediction: Saints over Bears

        

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Super Bowl Prediction: Saints over Patriots

A Saints-Patriots Super Bowl features two of the best quarterbacks over the last two decades in Brees and Brady. Yet the Saints are the better team with a more balanced attack, and it will be Brees hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in his career. 

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