The 2022 regular season gave us plenty of things to cheer for, and many fans entered Week 18 with their favorite teams still having a lot to play for. If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re probably excited about winning the worst game of football of the entire day to clinch a playoff berth. If you’re a Patriots fan, you can’t believe you gave up two kickoff touchdowns with the playoffs right in sight. If you’re a Lions fan, the Seahawks win ruined your afternoon, but you got to watch your favorite team play the scrappy football that America loves them for and ruin the day of rival Packers fans. Plenty of smiles and complaints to go around depending on your allegiance, but what’s done is done. The playoffs are here. After a wild Week 18, let’s go through and predict this entire 2022 NFL playoffs bracket. Can I recapture the glory that last year brought when I took a bet on an underdog Bengals team that was allergic to the odds and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Who will be this year’s Bengals and will we predict correctly? Stay tuned.
2022 NFL Playoff Predictions
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
This matchup will be a fun one between two teams led by young QBs looking to provide a spark for their respective franchises. This should be a high-scoring game as neither of these defenses looks like they will be able to keep up with the opposing offense on paper, and both of these offenses have been hot down the stretch. The Jaguars are better coached, but the Chargers have the better roster. This should be one that comes down to the wire, but in the end, I am not betting against Justin Herbert here.
Final Score: Chargers, 34-24
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
We just saw this matchup in Week 18 as the Bengals got the best of the undermanned Ravens. This Ravens team in the wild card round will look a little different and likely provide more of a test than that team. Any divisional matchup is always going to be more unpredictable and more intense, especially since it’s in the volatile AFC North. This Lamar Jackson versus Joe Burrow matchup should be a common occurrence in the North for a while assuming the Ravens don’t mess up by letting him walk, and this will end up being one of the bigger games between the two. Joe Burrow has something to prove though, and I love betting on Cincy in the high stake games.
Final Score: Bengals, 31-17
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins barely snuck in via a boring Week 18 win against the Jets. They are undermanned and have lost their early-season magic due to injuries and some regression from early surprise players. The Bills are clearly the favorite on paper, but once again, this is a divisional game so do not rule anything out. This game will still be one to watch, even with all of the Dolphins’ shortcomings. This Dolphins team will come ready to play, and give a more playoff-seasoned Bills team some scares. In the end, Josh Allen will prove that the Bills’ determination is truly something to watch out for, as they handle the underdog Dolphins.
Final Score: 28-20
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is a rematch from Week 1 when the Cowboys got dominated by a Buccaneers team that honestly had their best performance of the season in that opener. The Cowboys have been sputtering down the stretch at times, but when they are at their best, they can hang with anyone. Dak Prescott has to play better for them to have a chance, and they have to crack the strong Buccaneers’ run defense. I think they will do just that by relying on their running backs and forcing Tom Brady to throw quickly with their tenacious pass rush. I think every team will breathe a little easier after the Cowboys knock out Tom Brady here.
Final Score: 24-16
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
This is the matchup that I cannot wrap my head around on. The Vikings do what good teams do, and win close games, but they are also flawed and it has been exposed several times. The Giants, on the other hand, are pretty predictable. They play sound football and rely on the run game and defense to win when they need to. I look at this matchup, and something tells me the Giants complete the upset here. Kirk Cousins stutters under the bright playoff lights, and Brian Daboll’s Giants keep finding ways to surprise everyone with a first-round win in overtime.
Final Score: 26-23
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
After the Lions spoiled Aaron Rodgers’s potential postseason trip, the Seahawks owe them a thank-you card. They don’t get a necessarily favorable matchup here though, as the 49ers have looked like the league’s best team over the last month or so. We all know how divisional matchups end up though, so once again, do not count anything out. I think the Seahawks have looked burnt out late in the season and that’s not what you want when you are slated to play a team of this caliber. I don’t think Pete Carroll will end up rallying this team enough to pull out the upset as the 49ers move on and the Seahawks don’t take advantage of their late Christmas present from Detroit.
Final Score: 27-13
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs and the Chargers matchup here was the hardest one for me to pick on this entire bracket. Ultimately, I am leaning on the NFL scriptwriters wanting a Burrow versus Herbert matchup just as much as I do. This game will be the definition of a shootout, as both of these high-flying offenses are no stranger to winning behind their quarterbacks. Mahomes and Herbert will both eclipse 350 yards, and the Chargers will be the victors after being able to touch the ball last. This will be a classic, and it will set the stage for a potential matchup versus either Josh Allen or draft classmate Joe Burrow for the Herbert-led Chargers.
Final Score: Chargers, 37-34
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
This is a rematch of a game we never really got to see in Week 17 when Damar Hamlin went down with a scary injury. Thankfully, he is recovering nicely and I’d like to think he’ll be in attendance with Bills Mafia for this game. The Bengals seemed to be the better team early on before the game was stopped a few weeks ago, and I think they will pick up right where they left off. This Cincinnati team just has a swagger to them when Joe Burrow is under center, and they aren’t one that anyone wants to see with elimination on the line. The Bengals march on in a close one against a Bills team that comes up short again.
Final Score: Bengals, 33-28
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants Cinderella run meets the juggernaut Eagles. This divisional matchup will have everyone on the edge of their season, as these two teams are led by similar philosophies. Expect a lot of ground game and a lot of game-changing defensive plays from both of these teams, as they fight to keep their respective seasons alive. The Eagles will be well rested and they have the Giants’ number so far, so they will come into the matchup with momentum early on. I expect the inexperienced Giants to struggle with a stout Eagles defense, and that will be the difference maker in the end as Philly pushes through to the NFC Championship.
Final Score: Eagles, 28-14
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers
The Cowboys took down the Buccaneers, but now they have the red-hot 49ers to deal with. Any team who takes down Brady in the playoffs usually feels like they could beat anyone, but I think Brock Purdy trotting out will be a call back to reality. Yeah, I didn’t think I would be writing that sentence either when the season started. The Cowboys running attack will be met by the league’s best 49ers run defense, and they will be shut down. That will leave it all up to Dak Prescott, who will not have enough to take down a 49ers team filled with stars all over the roster. San Francisco cruises through with a lot of momentum.
Final Score: 49ers, 38-21
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
Here we are. We finally have the Burrow versus Herbert matchup here in the playoffs and it should be an amazing game. The legendary 2020 draft class has two of its best finally clashing on the big stage, likely the first of many battles between these two young superstars. Who do I have winning? Well, this time last year, I had the 10-7 Bengals taking down all the AFC juggernauts and making it to the Super Bowl, and it was meant with an influx of groans and criticism. In the end, the Bengals made me look like a genius. Why would I pick against them now? Burrow gets the upper hand in the first of many battles between himself and Herbert and the Bengals are heading back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
Final Score: Bengals, 30-27
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
These two teams come into this matchup after dominating the NFC all year, and only one can come out on top. This will likely be a physical game with an old-school style to it, as both of these teams have paved their way here with great running, blocking, and defense in critical situations. An impenetrable force meets an immovable object, and when the smoke clears, it will be the 49ers who come out of this slugfest. After dominating their first two playoff games, San Francisco gets tested and prevails against the one-seeded Eagles to go play for the Lombardi trophy.
Final Score: 49ers, 28-23
Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
After a season filled with so much excitement, it will all come down to this. The Bengals, led by first overall pick Joe Burrow. The 49ers, led by Mr. Irrelevant pick Brock Purdy. Which will prevail? The swagger-filled Bengals team that is addicted to winning when it matters, or the 49ers team that was built to perfection by winning in the trenches and coached to an unmatched precision. This game should be a blast, and as I am typing now, I still don’t know who I want to pick here. After weighing everything, I think it will be the 49ers who celebrate under the confetti here after a back-and-forth game with no runaway winner until the final whistle. A season of magic ends with a parade in the Bay Area as Brock Purdy and company find a way to win it all after overcoming so many question marks during a rollercoaster 2022 season.
Final Score: 49ers, 31-26