NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: Postseason Standings, Schedule Guide and Predictions

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NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: Postseason Standings, Schedule Guide and Predictions
Ed Zurga/Associated Press
The speed of Tyreek Hill could play a decisive role in the AFC title game.

The NFL season is nearing its climax, as the four favored teams in the divisional playoffs all won and have advanced to the conference championship games.

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the AFC title game for the first time in team history. The No. 1 seed in the AFC will host the second-seeded Patriots Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised by CBS.

That game will follow the NFC title games between the top-seeded New Orleans Saints and the second-seeded Los Angeles Rams. That game will kick off at 3:40 p.m. at the Superdome, and it will be broadcast by Fox.

The Chiefs are three-point favorites, per OddsShark, while the Saints are 3.5-point favorites.

The Chiefs are playing to get to the Super Bowl for the first times in 49 years. The Chiefs won Super Bowl IV in the last game ever played by an American Football League team.

The Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7, and that victory came a year after the New York Jets had beaten the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The back-to-back AFL victories meant that the league founded by Lamar Hunt was merging into the NFL on equal terms with the senior league.

The Chiefs, owned by Hunt's son Clark, have not been back to professional football's biggest game since 1970.

If they are going to get there, they are going to have to beat the long-time AFC standard bearer. The Patriots have won five Super Bowls with head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady leading the way. All of those victories have come since 2001. 

The Belichick-Brady combination have also been a part of three other losing Super Bowls, including last year's defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Chiefs don't have to battle history, but they do have to figure out how to slow down a New England offense that scored 35 points in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers in the divisional playoffs and earned a 41-28 victory.

Brady threw for 343 yards and a touchdown in the win, while wideout Julian Edelman caught nine passes for 151 yards. The Chargers tried to slow down the Pats with a zone defense, and the Chiefs are not likely to use the same tactics in the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs have the most explosive offense in the league with second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the helm. Mahomes threw 50 TD passes in the regular season, and he has a couple of big-play specialists in explosive wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.

While the Chiefs were successful in their divisional playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts, they had lost 11 of their previous 12 playoff games. 

Perhaps those defeats are nothing but ancient history. However, if they linger in the back of the team's collective minds, the Pats will have an excellent chance to take advantage.

The Rams were undefeated midway through the season, but they suffered a 45-35 defeat at the hands of the Saints in Week 9.

The Saints did just a little bit more in that game, and they will attempt to use their home-field edge to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLIV over the Colts following the 2009 season.

Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are a formidable trio, and they could have a slight edge over the Rams' top offensive players Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Robert Woods.

Goff has slowed down after a brilliant start, and Woods is a good receiver who does not have Thomas' star power. Gurley may be a bit better than Kamara, but he has been battling a knee injury in the final weeks of the season.

     

Predictions

The Chiefs have a chance to write a great story if they can overcome the Patriots and return to the championship game for the first time since Super Bowl IV. However, Belichick and Brady are not going to give head coach Andy Reid, Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs any gifts.

The Patriots are certainly used to playing for the AFC Championship, and while they are usually far more successful when playing at home than on the road in the postseason, it is clearly familiar territory.

The Chiefs are going to have to ignore the pressure and play to their ability. That may be a difficult assignment over the course of 60 minutes.

We see the Chiefs having quite a few big moments, but the Pats know how to make the plays when the game matters most. New England will pull out this game late in the fourth quarter and break hearts in Kansas City.

The Rams and Saints should play a high-scoring game, but look for a much sharper effort from the Saints than they had in their narrow 20-14 divisional win over the Eagles.

The supportive Saints fans will give their team a lift, and the Saints will win the NFC title game.


Where to Watch: NFL playoff games, studio shows and more are available through fuboTV.

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