It’s never easy getting to the Super Bowl. There are six teams that have a shot at it in the AFC, and as many have noted, the New England Patriots are the favorite. They have home field throughout the playoffs, which offers them a major advantage. Plus, the Pats have a truly amazing combination in Brady and Belichick. But this is not a done deal. This team has been stymied before by defenses that step up and throw off their game. If there’s any sort of weather situation involved, that can always create havoc. But it should be noted that New England tends to play well when the snow is flying and the temperatures are falling. Here’s our 2018 AFC Championship prediction.
AFC Wild Card
In the 2018 AFC Playoffs, the wild card games are played on Jan. 6 at 4:20 p.m. with the Titans at the Chiefs and on Jan 7 at 1:05 p.m. with the Bills at the Jaguars.
Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs
The Titans have struggled all season as QB Marcus Mariota has greatly underperformed. They come to this game having gone 1-3 for their final four games. Kansas City started the season 5-0 and in their first game handily beat the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and then went into a tailspin that they finally seemed to pull out of at the end of the season when they won four in a row. It’s been up and down and up for the Chiefs who never quite regained their early-season form. Tennessee is not a good road team (3-5) and Mariota has tossed more picks than TDs. We like the Kansas City Chiefs in this one.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags not only made the playoffs, but they won their division. The Bills barely made the playoffs, and they come to this game as clearly the weakest of any AFC team. The Jaguars are second in the NFL in sacks with 55 and second in picks with 21. Of their 17 forced fumbles, they have recovered 12, tying them for fourth. Their offense is run-based, and they are going up against a Bills’ defense that cannot stop the run. Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy is injured and will be a game-day decision as to whether or not he will play. We like the Jacksonville Jaguars in this game.
AFC Divisional Round
In this round, we expect to see the Kansas City Chiefs at the New England Patriots on Jan 13 at 8:15 p.m. and the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan 13 at 1:05 p.m. Here’s how we envision these games developing.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
We do not expect a repeat of week one where the Chiefs humiliated the Patriots. The Pats come to this game with the third-ranked red zone D in the league, while Kansas City has the fourth-worst red zone offense. In the last third of the season, the New England rush attack has taken off, as they have been gaining on average over 138 YPG over the last six weeks. That’s second in the league. Home field is huge here as is the revenge factors. New England wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers
This game will be closer than most expect. The Jags certainly don’t have the offense that Pittsburgh has, but they do have a defense that can certainly hamper even a great QB like Roethlisberger. In their first meeting this year, which was on Oct. 8, the Jags forced five picks from the Steeler quarterback. Pittsburgh lost that game 30-9. The Pittsburgh offense could crush Jacksonville, but we don’t think that they will. We’re looking at a close game that the Jacksonville Jaguars win.
2018 AFC Playoffs Championship Prediction
Our 2018 AFC Playoffs championship prediction has the Jacksonville Jaguars visiting the New England Patriots. This will be a very tough game on both sides of the ball. Both teams have solid defenses, but we give the edge overall to the Jags. We give the Pats the edge on offense, coaching, and the weather. We are picking the New England Patriots to win a close one. That’s our 2018 AFC Championship prediction. We’ll have our AFC and NFC playoff picks for the wild card games a bit later this week.