NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: TV Schedule, Live-Stream Guide and Saturday Picks

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

For most of the NFL regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams were seen as two of the favorites to win Super Bowl 53. 

On Saturday, the pair of championship contenders receive their first opportunity to impress on the postseason stage. 

Saturday's games are important for the mentality of both franchises as well, as the Chiefs have a long history of losing in the divisional round, while the Rams lost their first playoff game of the Sean McVay era a year ago.

Indianapolis and Dallas are formidable foes for Saturday's home teams, and after what we witnessed in the wild-card round out of both franchises, they're more than capable of springing upsets Saturday. 

                             

Saturday Divisional-Round Schedule

All Times ET 

Indianapolis at Kansas City (4:35 p.m., NBC, NBC Sports app) 

Dallas at Los Angeles Rams (8:15 p.m., Fox, Fox Sports Go) 

In addition to the broadcast networks, the games can be viewed on FuboTV.

                  

Picks

Kansas City 38, Indianapolis 31

Patrick Mahomes' first-career playoff game won't be just about the Kansas City quarterback. 

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

In order to defeat the Colts, Mahomes needs help from the worst defense remaining in the NFL postseason. 

The Chiefs ended the regular season with the 24th-ranked total defense, but the numbers get even worse when you break down their production against the run and the pass. 

That's why the Colts are champing at the bit to get to Arrowhead Stadium, as Andrew Luck and Co. are coming off a strong performance in the wild-card round against Houston. 

Given Mahomes' production throughout the season and Kansas City's proclivity to concede points, offense should dominate the divisional-round opener. 

Mahomes, who threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns in the regular season, and Luck, who beat the Texans with 222 passing yards and a pair of scores, should have a good amount of success in the pocket.

The Colts will try to deliver a change of pace on offense through running back Marlon Mack, who torched the Texans for 148 rushing yards a week ago. 

Working Mack into the offense will benefit the Colts at the start of the game, but the Kansas City front seven will find a way to adjust. 

With almost everyone counting out the Kansas City defense, Bob Sutton's unit comes up with a few momentum-changing plays in the second half. 

Keep an eye on defensive end Chris Jones, who had his streak of 11 games with a sack end in Week 17 against Oakland. 

With Jones, Dee Ford and others getting pressure on Luck in the second half, the Chiefs create a window for Mahomes to march down the field and open up an advantage on the scoreboard. 

The smallest bit of separation will be needed entering the fourth quarter in order to keep confidence high on the Kansas City sideline and force the Colts to play from behind.

Although Luck has experience coming back against the Chiefs in the postseason, he'll come up short Saturday, as the Chiefs defense goes from laughing stock of the NFL to difference-making unit in the postseason. 

                                  

Dallas 21, Los Angeles Rams 16

Despite all the buzz surrounding McVay and the coaching prospects with connections to him, he hasn't won a playoff game yet. 

Although the Rams are favored against the Cowboys, they won't find life easy Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The star of the show will be Dallas' defense, which comes into the divisional round ranked sixth in total defense. 

With Chicago and Baltimore eliminated in the wild-card round, Dallas boasts the best total defense remaining in the postseason. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the Rams defense in 20th place, and if it wasn't for the Chiefs being so wretched on defense, they would have the worst defensive unit of the franchises left in the postseason. 

Although there are plenty of offensive stars on each roster, the defensive players on the Dallas depth chart will make the biggest difference. 

The pass rush led by Demarcus Lawrence ends up getting pressure on Jared Goff almost immediately, while Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith cause problems for Todd Gurley in his attempt to advance into the second layer of the Dallas defense. 

Ezekiel Elliott won't have an easy day, as Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh start out the contest by smothering the inside of the Dallas offensive line with pressure. 

But eventually, Elliott will find a way to break through the Rams defense, as he tries to replicate his 137-yard rushing performance against Seattle. 

At some point in the second half, Dak Prescott will be asked to make a key play on either third down, or in the red zone. 

With the game on the line late, Prescott steps up similar to how he did against the Seahawks to provide a nice complement to Elliott. 

Once Dallas moves into the lead, its defense takes over and stops Goff, Gurley and Co. from making their own statement on the contest and leave McVay with an 0-2 playoff record. 

                         

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

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