[Editor’s Note: So as not to potentially jinx any player or team, with one exception on each count, no images will run with this story except for the feature image and the image of the author, which can be seen by clicking on his name, which takes you to his bio.]
The NFL conference championship weekend is around the corner and it shaped up pretty much how most of us experts thought it was going to: the #1 and #2 seeds from both conferences will be competing for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
After a disappointing but unsurprising showing from Philip Rivers’ Chargers, the Bolts were sent packing after Tom Brady found open receivers all day for 343 yards and one touchdown. New England’s defense came up big, limiting the spectacular Melvin Gordon to just fifteen yards on nine carries and only allowing seven points in the first half.
The Patriots have a test ahead of them next week going into Kansas City to face the potent Chiefs offense, which put up 40 points in a loss to the Patriots at Foxborough during the regular season. Andy Reid will see if he can finally out coach Bill Belichick with the help of breakout second-year QB Patrick Mahomes — who became the second signal caller in history to record 50 passing touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards in the same season, the first being Peyton Manning.
The Chiefs will have to rely on Mahomes and the offense, as their defense has proven to be shaky all season, giving up thirty points on five occasions, including 43 to the Patriots in that aforementioned loss.
On the other side of the table, the Rams are going into New Orleans to face all-time passing yards leader Drew Brees and the Saints, who have been red hot all season. Brees, turning 40 six days before the game, is truly defying odds and playing some of the best football of his fifteen year career, as he tries to win his second Super Bowl in New Orleans. It helps that the duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the Saints’ backfield has shredded defenses all year.
After joining the Rams as Head Coach, Sean McVay has completely turned the franchise around. Rams fans suffered through years of Jeff Fisher mediocrity and are finally seeing rewards in the form of golden boy Jared Goff and powerhouse running back Todd Gurley. Their offense is averaging 32.9 points a game and their defense is masterfully commanded by genius coordinator Wade Phillips and led by Aaron Donald, whose monster season gave LA the edge on multiple occasions this season.
The Rams only defeated five teams with winning records during the regular season, and the environment of the Superdome proved to be too much for them in week 8. This game promises to be a shootout that will most likely come down to which offense can manage the game better. Both defenses have a challenge at hand when it comes to containing the opposing team’s offense.
Any outcome would be fine this coming weekend as long as the long-cheating Patriots do not end up in the Super Bowl. Hopefully Mahomes and the KC offense can come up with some new looks and catch the defense off guard. If the Chiefs can generate pressure up front on D then they could come out on top. The Patriots are always scary in the playoffs but this year they have shown weaknesses, especially when playing on the road.
I’m expecting the Saints to defeat the Rams for two simple reasons: Home field advantage and experience. The Superdome is next to impossible to win in, and while the young duo of Goff and McVay are certainly turning heads, Brees and Payton have simply been doing this for longer. They know how to win. If the game is close down the stretch, they will know how to set the pace better than the Rams.
There are only three football games left until August, enjoy them. It’s been a great season and these next few weeks are guaranteed to be exciting.