Dustin Baker’s 2023 NFL Playoff Predictions

Love Matthew
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

With six games this weekend, the NFL playoffs begin, highlighted by the Kansas City Chiefs’ somewhat unlikely quest for a Super Bowl repeat. No team has repeated for Lombardi trophies since 2003 and 2004 when – you guessed it – Tom Brady’s team did it in New England.

The Matthew Stafford Bowl also occurs Sunday night in Detroit, although folks could also coin it The Jared Goff Bowl.

Dustin Baker’s 2023 NFL Playoff Predictions

This year’s tournament is totally up in the air, with most sportsbooks forecasting a San Francisco 49ers + Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl. But let’s get funkier than that.

AFC

Wildcard Round

2023 NFL Playoff
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

(2) Buffalo Bills over (7) Pittsburgh Steelers

(3) Kansas City Chiefs over (6) Miami Dolphins

(5) Cleveland Browns over (4) Houston Texans

The Bills end the Steelers’ wacky season with a 10-14 point victory; Mason Rudolph’s QB2 luck peters out. Miami is due for a signature win over a playoff team, but the Dolphins don’t have any EDGE rushers. Not ideal. FlaccoMania continues, as C.J. Stroud looks like a rookie quarterback against Cleveland’s blustery defense.

Divisional Round

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

(2) Buffalo Bills over (3) Kansas City Chiefs

(1) Baltimore Ravens over (5) Cleveland Browns

Buffalo finally knocks Kansas City out of the postseason — if there were ever a year, this is the one. The Ravens spoil Flacco’s attempted 2012 sequel and continue their Lombardi-bound path.

AFC Championship

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

(1) Baltimore Ravens over (2) Buffalo Bills

This one boils down to homefield advantage. Per roster personnel and quarterback performance, the clubs are evenly matched, both peppered with January momentum. But the home team prevails, and Jackson visits the Super Bowl for the first time.

NFC

Wildcard Round

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(2) Dallas Cowboys over (7) Green Bay Packers

(6) Los Angeles Rams over (3) Detroit Lions

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers over (5) Philadelphia Eagles

The 2023 Cowboys are akin to the 1980s Boston Celtics at home; Green Bay doesn’t have the oomph this weekend to succeed. The Stafford-Goff Bowl lands in Stafford’s win bucket, upsetting hungry Lions fans to high heavens. Philadelphia continues its stretch of doltish play and bottoms out at Tampa Bay.

Divisional Round

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

(6) Los Angeles Rams over (1) San Francisco 49ers

(2) Dallas Cowboys over (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kyle Shanahan, generally speaking, owns Sean McVay — which is just really weird. That win-loss split is due to break in McVay’s favor, and the Rams upset the 49ers. Dallas absolutely romps over Tampa Bay, and its NFC Championship curse ends.

NFC Championship

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

(6) Los Angeles Rams over (2) Dallas Cowboys

A mini-team of destiny, the Rams complete an unforeseen sprint to the Super Bowl while McVay proves beyond the shadow of a doubt he’s the best coach in the NFL. Los Angeles wiggles by Dallas after a game-winning drive from Stafford.

Super Bowl

John Harbaugh
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens over Los Angeles Rams, 27-23

Super Bowl MVP: Lamar Jackson

It’s time. Jackson probably won’t play at this high level forever — check out Cam Newton’s resume — but the man deserves at least one chip, and he gets off the schneid in 2023. Folks commend the Rams’ path to the Super Bowl, but this regular season rematch favors Baltimore.

Harbaughs dominate the news cycle in February.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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