NFL playoffs and Super Bowl 2023 expert predictions
The infamous Serbia Crystal Ball that before this wild and wacky NFL season predicted a Bills-49ers Super Bowl matchup has been extinguished just in time for the playoffs.
A lot has changed for both teams, of course: Trey Lance (ankle) missed Week 2 and Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) missed Week 13, and the football world was introduced to Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy.
The Bills endured the emotional rollercoaster of a near-tragedy of the heartwarming, inspiring and emotional story of Damar Hamlin, who was surprisingly released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday, a week after suffering cardiac arrest while making a tackle against the Bengals. Tee Higgins.
Can the Bills be a lucky team and win their first Super Bowl in five tries? Could Purdy be Mr. Relevant to America? Can Tom Brady capture his eighth ring? Can Patrick Mahomes win the second one? Will Joe Burrow smoke a cigar after the game?
Serbia’s crystal ball has it all in clear focus:
Super Wild Card Weekend Saturday Seahawks at 49ers
Geno Smith, meet Nick Bosa. Kenneth Walker III, meet Fred Warner. America, meet the new Mr. Purdy, who won’t melt under the hot playoff lights. In two losses to the Niners, the Seahawks scored one offensive touchdown. And the Niners rushed for 189 (without Christian McCaffrey) and 170 yards.
49ers 31, Seahawks 17
Complete NFL Playoff Bracket 2023. Post Illustration NY Brock Purdy won’t wilt in the bright lights of the NFL playoffs. USA TODAY Sports Chargers at Jaguar
A Golden Boys matchup at quarterback, Justin Herbert vs. Trevor Lawrence. Brandon Staley opted to go more with Tom Coughlin than Brian Daboll in the regular season finale and could have dodged a bullet because WR Mike Williams (back) should have been willing to go. Herbert has had Williams (ankle) and Keenan Allen (hamstring) together for just four games from start to finish. If Joey Bosa (groin) is OK to join Khalil Mack, the Bolts will enjoy a pass rush advantage over The Other Josh Allen and rookie Travon Walker. Forever Trevor will need Travis Etienne to go against the 28th ranked defense.
Chargers 27, Jaguars 24
Sunday Dolphins at Bills
Tua Tagovailoa’s Dolphins went toe-to-toe with the Bills in their last-second, 32-29 loss on Dec. 17. This was before Tua’s recent brain troubles. Will Tua be cleared? If not, expect Teddy Bridgewater (pinky) instead of rookie Skylar Thompson. The long-range forecast is sunny and mild (28 degrees) with 8 mph winds, so Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle can eat. But Josh Allen threw for 4 TDs and ran for 77 yards last time out.
Win one for Damar.
Bills 33, Dolphins 17
Giants in Vikings
Daniel Jones will be armed with confidence against the league’s 31st-ranked passing defense. Saquon Barkley is rested and ready for the 20th ranked rushing defense. Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale are dangerous the second they see an opponent (see Commanders). Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams will contain Dalvin Cook, and Wink won’t let Justin Jefferson (12-133-1 TDs) and TJ Hockenson (13-109-2 TDs) ruin the game this time. Xavier McKinney is back (Adoree’ Jackson too?). This time, Graham Gano, not Greg Joseph, leaves.
Giants 27, Vikings 24
Ravens at Bengals Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals air game are in a cage match with the Ravens. Getty Images
Their Play Like A Raven mantra is much easier when Lamar Jackson is the quarterback. He hasn’t practiced for five weeks (PCL). Burrow didn’t have Higgins in the early season loss to Baltimore; he has it now along with Ja’Marr Chase. The defending AFC champions are on an eight-game winning streak. The Ravens’ passing game never recovered from the Hollywood Brown trade. The red zone has been a dead zone for them. If it’s Tyler Huntley or Anthony Brown at quarterback, everyone chants “Who Dey?” Let’s speculate on a rusty Lamar comeback and a manic defense led by MLB Roquan Smith neutralizing Joe Mixon, and Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters limiting Chase and Higgins, and JK Dobbins and Mark Andrews doing enough in a vicious and sharp matches of the steel cage.
Ravens 24, Bengals 21
Monday Cowboys at Buccaneers
Brady (with his seven rings) is 7-0 against the Cowboys. Dak Prescott has a seven game interception streak. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t been eating much lately. Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence will struggle, but Brady will get the ball quickly to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin against starting cornerback DaRon Bland. Lenny Fournette could have playoff success against the 22nd-ranked defense, and if center Ryan Jensen (knee) can return, that would be a huge lift. Brady vs. Dan Quinn … Falcons HC in Super Bowl 51 who blew a 28-3 lead to the GOAT, FWIW.
Bucs 24, Cowboys 21
Micah Parson and the Cowboys will be too much for Tom Brady & Co. to handle. USA TODAY Sports Divisional Round AFC Ravens at Chiefs
Lamar ran for 107 yards and 2 TDs in a 36-35 win early in 2021 in Baltimore to beat Mahomes for the first time in four tries. Steve Spagnuolo and Chris Jones won’t let that happen again. Magic Mahomes no longer has Tyreek Hill and it doesn’t matter. Jerick McKinnon and Isaiah Pacheco give Andy Reid more balance, and while rookie safety Kyle Hamilton possesses size and range, Travis Kelce will be too smart for him. Kadarius Toney: 1 TD, 1 fixed hamstring.
Chiefs 34, Ravens 17
Loaders on invoices
The long-range forecast calls for light snow on January 21st and snow on January 22nd. Austin Ekeler will have to be a passing game weapon against the fifth-ranked rushing defense (104.6 yards). Allen, Devin Singletary and James Cook will lead a 150-yard rushing attack. Win another one for Damar.
Bills 33, Chargers 21
Devin Singletary and the Bills will rush their way through the Chargers.Getty Images NFC Giants at Eagles
It’s not easy to beat a division rival three times in one season.
Davis Webb lobbies to start this, citing his chemistry with Kenny Golladay, and Daboll tells the media that he will sit down with GM Joe Schoen and discuss everything Friday night. Still, a healthy Jalen Hurts and top-ranked pass defense speak volumes for Jones without a true No. 1 receiver. 1, even though Barkley caught eight passes and gained 130 yards.
Eagles 27, Giants 17
Bucs at age 49:
Brady against his boyhood team. Brady v. Purdy. Brady’s last game as a Buc before leaving for the Raiders? Brady’s last game before heading to Fox? Purdy has George Kittle. Brady doesn’t have Gronk. Purdy has Kyle Shanahan. Brady doesn’t. Demeco Ryans boasts the second-ranked rushing defense (77.7 yards).
49ers 31, Bucs 17
NFC Championship 49ers at Eagles
Garoppolo beat Eagles 17-11 at Linc early in 2021. Will Purdy flash? Remember, cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry are no rip offs. But if there’s a team built to win physical road battles, it’s the 49ers. Hurts will have some success against a Niner secondary targeting AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, but Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Arik Armstead will stifle Miles Sanders and make Nick Sirianni one-dimensional.
49 years old 27, Eagle 24
AFC Championship Bills vs. Chiefs
The upcoming Allen-Mahomes dream matchup. A scary environment in a neutral location – halfway between Buffalo and Kansas City is Indianapolis FYI. Gabe Davis won’t catch 4 TD passes against the Chiefs this time around, but Stefon Diggs will play a couple against a young, inexperienced group, including Trent McDuffie at No. 1. The last one with the ball wins. Allen is last with the ball.
Win another one for Damar.
Bills 33, Chiefs 30
Josh Allen and the Bills will get over the hump this time and give Buffalo the long-awaited title. Getty Images Super Bowl 2023 49ers-Bills
During the two weeks between the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl, Shanahan ponders the same question Bill Belichick pondered before Super Bowl 36: Brady or Drew Bledsoe? For Shanny, it’s Purdy or Garoppolo, whose foot has finally healed enough. And like Belichick, he stays with the hot hand.
But when Purdy suddenly develops yps, Garoppolo is called off the bench and brings the Niners back from a first-half hole. McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel start to impose their will on the night, and Marv Levy and Jim Kelly are sweating bullets in the owners’ box. But Allen, in his huddle at the start of a drive late in the fourth quarter, looks up into the stands and says, “Hey look, it’s Will Smith and Chris Rock!” He eases the tension and Allen builds a 98-yard drive that culminates when he leaps over the end zone, third-and-goal from the 3.
Won the Big One for Damar.
Bills 33, 49 27