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Before the NFL playoffs start, Free Press sports writers make their predictions as to who will play in Super Bowl LIII (53), and who will raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 3, 2019 in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Carlos Monarrez

Saints 31, Patriots 27: The Patriots are too complete and experienced a team to lose to the defensively deficient Chiefs. The well-rounded Saints will prove too much for the Rams and Patriots.

Dave Birkett

Saints 34, Chiefs 31: I’m tempted to stick with my preseason prediction (Saints over Patriots), but I think New England is at the end of its dynasty. The Saints, meanwhile, are the most complete team in the league, and they won’t squander homefield advantage. The AFC is a toss up, but there’s something magical about Patrick Mahones, so I’ll take the Chiefs to reach the Super Bowl.

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Jeff Seidel

Chiefs 31, Bears 21: The Bears are going to roll through the playoffs with that big, bad defense, beating the Saints along the way. But this Super Bowl will be the Patrick Mahomes show, as he avoids the Bears’ rush with an assortment of sideways, backwards, under-handed and cross-body flips. In the end, countless kids will rush to their backyards to practice his wonderful ability to improvise.

Shawn Windsor 

Saints 36, Chiefs 29: I picked the Saints before the season began, so not sure I can back out now. Not that I want to. New Orleans remains the most complete team in the NFC — if not the NFL — and will hold on to defeat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. 

Kirkland Crawford

Rams 30, Patriots 20: Tom Brady’s run began against the “Greatest Show on Turf.” It will end against the same franchise. Nothing will make Detroit Lions fans feel better than watching Ndamukong Suh go to Disney World.

Ryan Ford 

Chiefs 43, Saints 42: Never has picking the No. 1 seeds to meet in the Super Bowl felt so risky. But I think the Chiefs flat-out outscore the Ravens in the AFC title game, and the Saints get just enough from their home crowd on their run. Oh, the game in Atlanta itself? I’m guessing the punters don’t get a lot of work, and the Chiefs win it on a crazy 2-point conversion pass from Patrick Mahomes.

Marlowe Alter

Saints 40, Chiefs 31: Andy Reid’s resume in big games speaks for itself, and I’d love to pick the Ravens to win the AFC, but I can’t trust a rookie QB to win three games. Reid finally has a star QB again in Patrick Mahomes, meaning for the first time since 2013, there won’t be a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning-led team in the Super Bowl. The Saints are 5-0 at home in the postseason under Drew Brees. Brees wins his second Super Bowl MVP, then the 40-year-old announces his return for a 19th NFL season.

USA TODAY Sports’ playoff picks: Who wins wildcard games and Super Bowl?

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