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Arrowhead Pride’s 2021 NFL season predictions

The AP Army makes their playoff predictions ahead of the season kickoff tonight in Tampa Bay.

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is actually upon us, as the — err — world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys for opening night! An hour before the kick, our Arrowhead Pride staff members deliver their full NFL season predictions:


Tom Childs

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Bills (AFC East) 3. Ravens (AFC North) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Browns 2. Chargers 3. Patriots

NFC Division winners: 1. Packers (NFC North) 2. Bucs (NFC South) 3. 49ers (NFC West) 4. WFT (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. Rams 2. Seahawks 3. Saints

Wild Card Weekend

Bucs over Saints
49ers over Seahawks
Rams over WFT
Patriots over Bills
Ravens over Chargers
Browns over Titans

Divisional Round

Rams over Packers
49ers over Bucs
Chiefs over Patriots
Ravens over Browns

Championship Sunday

49ers over Rams
Chiefs over Ravens

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over 49ers

There you are ladies and gentlemen — there is exactly how the season will play out. The AFC might be a little feistier than normal, but ultimately, the Chiefs prove too hot to handle for their conference rivals. The 49ers will boat race their side of the playoffs but then once again be made to regret playing Patrick Mahomes in a Super Bowl.


Talon Graff

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Bills (AFC East) 3. Browns (AFC North) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Chargers 2. Ravens 3. Patriots

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Packers (NFC North) 3. Rams (NFC West) 4. Cowboys (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Seahawks 3. Vikings

Wild Card Weekend

Bills over Patriots
Browns over Ravens
Chargers over Titans
Packers over Vikings
Rams over Seahawks
49ers over Cowboys

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Chargers
Browns over Bills
Buccaneers over 49ers
Rams over Packers

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Browns
Buccaneers over Rams

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Buccaneers

The Chiefs are in the midst of the greatest run they have experienced since the early days of the organization. Patrick Mahomes spearheads the most explosive offense in the NFL and should be even more dangerous with the reconstructed offensive line. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has every opportunity in front of him to have a big impact in his second year. The defense is talented, but the linebackers will need to be protected by the defensive line and the secondary. Chris Jones is an early defensive player of the year candidate and L’Jarius Sneed leads an intriguing group of cornerbacks. Along with Tyrann Mathieu at safety, the defense has the potential to be a top-10 unit come playoff time.


Mark Gunnels

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Browns (AFC North) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Chargers 2. Steelers 3. Patriots

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Rams (NFC West) 3. Packers (NFC North) 4. Washington Football Team (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Saints 3. Panthers

Wild Card Weekend

Browns over Patriots
Steelers over Bills
Chargers over Titans
Rams over Panthers
Packers over Saints
49ers over Washington Football Team

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Steelers
Browns over Chargers
Bucs over 49ers
Rams over Packers

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Browns
Rams over Bucs

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Rams

The new and improved offensive line will allow this offense to be the best version of itself since Patrick Mahomes became a starter. Also, expect to see a more efficient rushing attack and for Clyde Edwards-Helaire to be more involved in the passing game. On the other side of the ball, the addition of Jarran Reed will allow Chris Jones to be more flexible, which will take tons of pressure off the secondary. The biggest X-factor will be Willie Gay when he returns. I truly believe he will have a Pro Bowl-caliber season.


Ron Kopp Jr.

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Browns (AFC North) 3. Patriots (AFC East) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Ravens 2. Bills 3. Chargers

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Rams (NFC West) 3. Packers (NFC North) 4. Cowboys (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. Seahawks 2. 49ers 3. Washington

Wild Card Weekend

Chargers over Browns
Bills over Patriots
Ravens over Titans
Rams over Washington
Packers over 49ers
Cowboys over Seahawks

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Chargers
Bills over Ravens
Cowboys over Buccaneers
Packers over Rams

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Bills
Packers over Cowboys

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Packers

It’s so hard to consistently be the top dog in the NFL. The league is designed to have parity, and we see the turnover in the standings every season. That said, there are a handful of special teams throughout NFL history that have maintained their status as the league’s best year after year — and this Chiefs team is one of them. We are in the midst of a legitimate dynasty, one that will be derailed by injuries before it's stopped by an AFC foe. I believe the embarrassing showing in Super Bowl LV propels this team to another dominant regular season — and this time, they finish the job.


Rocky Magaña

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Titans (AFC South) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Ravens (AFC North)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Browns 2. Chargers 3. Patriots

NFC Division winners: 1. Rams (NFC West) 2. Buccaneers (NFC South) 3. Washington (NFC East) 4. Packers (NFC North)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Seahawks 3. Cowboys

Wild Card Weekend

Bills over Patriots
Chargers over Titans
Browns over Ravens
Rams over Cowboys
Packers over Seahawks
49ers over Washington

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Chargers
Browns over Bills
Buccaneers over 49ers
Rams over Packers

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Browns
Rams over Buccaneers

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Rams

I think the Chiefs get off to a hot start. With the rebuilt offensive line, Patrick Mahomes feels safe stepping up into the pocket more, which leads to him carving up opposing team’s defenses. I think the Chiefs play with the lead in almost every single game this year, which allows Chris Jones and the rest of Sack Nation to tee off on opposing quarterbacks. Despite a brutal schedule to start the season, I think the Chiefs come through victorious and battle-tested. They enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed once again and overcome some familiar faces in Justin Herbert and Baker Mayfield in their quest to Take it Back. Ultimately, I think they succeed and face off against the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, where the upgraded offensive line is able to show their chops against Aaron Donald and company.


Kramer Sansone

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Bills (AFC East) 3. Browns (AFC North) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Dolphins 2. Ravens 3. Raiders

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Packers (NFC North) 3. Washington (NFC East) 4. Rams (NFC West)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. Cowboys 2. Cardinals 3. Saints

Wild Card Weekend

Bills over Raiders
Browns over Ravens
Dolphins over Titans
Packers over Saints
Washington over Cardinals
Cowboys over Rams

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Dolphins
Browns over Bills
Buccaneers over Cowboys
Packers over Washington

Championship Sunday

Buccaneers over Packers
Browns over Chiefs

Super Bowl LVI: Buccaneers over Browns

The Kansas City Chiefs will once again win the AFC West and have the best record in the AFC in general. The Chiefs are now classified as a Super Bowl-or-bust team with being in the Super Bowl that past two seasons. In the AFC title game, I was torn between the Chiefs overcoming the Browns once again, but I feel like the Browns will have the upper hand come playoff time. What may hurt the Chiefs in the AFC title game will be the lack of run-stoppers trying to control Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. With the game in Kansas City, it will be cold, so I would give the upper hand to any running back in that situation. Making it to the AFC title game is still a huge accomplishment for most teams, but for the Chiefs, it will never satisfy them.


Jared Sapp

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Titans (AFC South) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Ravens (AFC North)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Browns 2. Patriots 3. Chargers

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Packers (NFC North) 3. 49ers (NFC South) 4. Washington Football Team (NFC South)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. Rams 2. Seahawks 3. Saints

Wild Card Weekend

Titans over Chargers
Bills over Patriots
Browns over Ravens
Packers over Saints
49ers over Seahawks
Rams over Washington Football Team

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Browns
Bills over Titans
Buccaneers over Rams
49ers over Packers

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Bills
49ers over Buccaneers

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over 49ers

The Chiefs drop a road game early in the season and then rest their starters Week 18 in route to a 15-2 record. The Chiefs’ offensive line overhaul leads to a more balanced offense — which makes the league once again underestimate Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has a spectacular season — but fewer late-game heroics are needed as the Chiefs are more commonly able to run out the clock on opponents. “Showtime” Mahomes returns for the playoffs as the Chiefs put away the Browns and Bills in playoff rematches. The Chiefs win a Super Bowl rematch — but not the one analysts expect after a resurgent 49ers team defeats Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.


Stephen Serda

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Browns (AFC North) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Chargers 2. Ravens 3. Steelers

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Packers (NFC North) 3. Cowboys (NFC East) 4. 49ers (NFC West)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. Rams 2. Seahawks 3. Saints

Wild Card Weekend

Browns over Steelers
Bills over Ravens
Chargers over Titans
Packers over Saints
Cowboys over Seahawks
Niners over Rams

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Chargers
Browns over Bills
Buccaneers over 49ers
Packers over Cowboys

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Browns
Bucs over Packers

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Bucs

It was actually a battle for me to pick a rematch between the Chiefs and Bucs Super Bowl. Inevitably, I have to settle on a rematch from last year's Super Bowl because these teams just seem far too talented to not return from their respective conferences. The Chiefs’ offensive line could wind up showing us a level of Patrick Mahomes that the NFL just isn’t ready for. There could be some growing pains early on as this unit grows and learns how to play next to each other, but as Andy Reid often does, they’ll figure it out. I’d expect the Chiefs to coast to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.


Matt Stagner

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Browns (AFC North) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Patriots 2. Chargers 3. Dolphins

NFC Division winners: 1. Packers (NFC North) 2. Buccaneers (NFC South) 3. Rams (NFC West) 4. Cowboys (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Seahawks 3. Football Team

Wild Card Weekend

Browns over Dolphins
Bills over Chargers
Patriots over Titans
Buccaneers over Football Team
Rams over Seahawks
Cowboys over 49ers

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Patriots
Bills over Browns
Rams over Buccaneers
Packers over Cowboys

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Bills
Packers over Rams

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Packers

This season is bound to bring some surprises, as the Ravens miss the playoffs after a rash of injuries, and the Steelers miss out when Big Ben’s age (and karma) catch up with him. The upstart Dolphins get a surprisingly strong season out of Tua, even as they shop for his replacement. The Chiefs revenge tour won’t be slowed down, even by an improved Patriots team who shock the Titans on Wild Card Weekend. The Bucs, however hit a wall with a younger, well-coached Rams team that finally has a quarterback they can win with. Championship Sunday matches familiar foes on both sides of the league, but the better quarterbacks prevail. This Super Bowl would have all of the story lines, with the formerly disgruntled Rodgers goes toe-to-toe with an aggressive Chiefs defense that is better than people realized. Mahomes and a healthier, better Chiefs offensive line turn this one into a blowout, as the Chiefs bring the Lombardi back to Kansas City for the second time in three years.


Bryan Stewart

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Titans (AFC South) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Browns (AFC North)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Steelers 2. Patriots 3. Chargers

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Packers (NFC North) 3. Rams (NFC West) 4. Cowboys (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Saints 3. Panthers

Wild Card Weekend

Titans over Chargers
Patriots over Bills
Steelers over Browns
Packers over Panthers
Rams over Saints
49ers over Cowboys

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Patriots
Titans over Steelers
Buccaneers over 49ers
Rams over Packers

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Titans
Buccaneers over Rams

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Buccaneers

I project a season in which we perhaps see the best all-around version of this team since Patrick Mahomes took over in 2018. I love the renewed energy and enthusiasm present as a result of the new additions on the roster. It makes it feel like a team that hasn’t been to the past two Super Bowls but instead is hungry for a first. The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers feel like they are about to start a collision course this season en route to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. Significant injury problems withstanding, I do believe we will see these teams go at it yet again in February, and the Chiefs aren’t taking the loss this time around.


Pete Sweeney

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Titans (AFC South) 3. Bills (AFC East) 4. Ravens (AFC North)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Chargers 2. Patriots 3. Browns

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Rams (NFC West) 3. Packers (NFC North) 4. Eagles (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Seahawks 3. Panthers

Wild Card Weekend

Titans over Browns
Patriots over Bills
Chargers over Ravens
Rams over Panthers
Packers over Seahawks
49ers over Eagles

Divisional Round

Chiefs over Patriots
Chargers over Titans
Buccaneers over 49ers
Rams over Packers

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Chargers
Rams over Buccaneers

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Rams

As you can see from my results, I do finally think this is the Los Angeles Chargers’ year to emerge. They won’t be good enough to have more wins than the Chiefs or beat them in the playoffs, but they too rebuilt their offensive line for a very talented young quarterback, they have a promising new coaching staff — and are quietly one of the more complete teams in the NFL. The Chiefs beat their AFC West division rival to win their third straight AFC title, only to face another team in their home stadium in the Super Bowl, the Matt Stafford-led Los Angeles Rams. This time, however, the Chiefs have at least four of their original five starting offensive linemen, and Patrick Mahomes outduels Stafford in a shootout to win his second Super Bowl MVP.


Ethan Willinger

AFC Division winners: 1. Chiefs (AFC West) 2. Bills (AFC East) 3. Browns (AFC North) 4. Titans (AFC South)

AFC Wild Card winners: 1. Patriots 2. Ravens 3. Chargers

NFC Division winners: 1. Buccaneers (NFC South) 2. Packers (NFC North) 3. Rams (NFC West) 4. Washington Football Team (NFC East)

NFC Wild Card winners: 1. 49ers 2. Seahawks 3. Saints

Wild Card Weekend

Patriots over Titans
Ravens over Browns
Bills over Chargers
Seahawks over Washington Football Team
Rams over 49ers
Packers over Saints

Divisional Round

Bills over Patriots
Chiefs over Ravens
Packers over Rams
Buccaneers over Seahawks

Championship Sunday

Chiefs over Bills
Packers over Buccanneers

Super Bowl LVI: Chiefs over Packers

The competition will continue to rise in the AFC this season — both from familiar playoff foes and franchises that are a year or two away from making a legitimate push for a championship. But the Chiefs have gotten better, too. The personnel on defense is the best Steve Spagnuolo has worked with since arriving in Kansas City. Improvements in the front seven, in particular, will help the team challenge the ground-and-pound blueprint teams employ to keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. On offense, Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy have the players they need to shift their offensive scheme week to week and keep defensive coordinators working late. The revamped offensive line will prove to be a major factor in helping the Chiefs grind out victories on the ground against the two-high safety shells opposing defenses (including the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers), utilize to stifle high-octane passing attacks. The Chiefs will win a few track meets, but the team proves it can play bully ball in 2021.


What’s your prediction? Weigh in below!