NFL Conference Championship Preview9 min read
One game away from the big one in Atlanta. Four teams have battled hard all season and now they are 60 minutes from the Superbowl. It seems only right after the season we have had that the number one seed hosts the number two seed in both divisions. You always want these matches to have the best teams and produce the best games. What better way of settling who should be in the Superbowl than having the four highest scoring offenses duel it out.
The best game of the season, and one of the best of all time, was Rams v Chiefs. At the time many said they would sign up for that to be repeated in the Superbowl. It could well be.
However, two other stand out games from the season were the regular season games which we will see again in the Conference Championship games. For us to see the Rams v Chiefs in Atlanta then we will need to see two revenge wins. Whatever happens it is looking like we will have one hell of a Superbowl on our hands. I take a look at what we can expect in the two Conference Championship games.
Patriots @ Chiefs
I had some doubts about the Chiefs last week against the Colts. In each of the important games they have played, including against the Patriots earlier in the season, they had lost. But they went out and played without fear. They looked very impressive. This shouldn’t be a surprise as they were the highest scoring team this season but it was nice to see them play in the same manner knowing that this was a winner take all game.
They played very well against the Patriots earlier in the season and I was very impressed by the way Patrick Mahomes handled the situation. Not many rookie QBs go into Foxborough and get a win. But the difference between these two games could be the fact that this will be at Arrowhead. That raucous home crowd will be a key factor and the Chiefs will need them to be in full voice despite the expected frosty weather.
This would have been very different if it wasn’t for Miami’s last second miracle play which cost the Patriots the number one seed and home advantage. I was very impressed with the Patriots last week against the Chargers. I will be the first to put my hands up and admit I did not see it coming and was one of those to write off the Patriots. I should know better when it comes to them and the playoffs. This is their eighth straight AFC Championship game. However when you look at this team and you can see how vulnerable they are.
Sony Michel has been pivotal in creating an impressive run offense which has propelled them this far in the season. However the Chiefs no all about running the ball. They had the number one rusher last season and this season have had several standout rushing games too. Kareem Hunt has since departed though due to off the field issues. But when it comes to these games I tend to favour a through the air threat as the side to back. Travis Kelce and Tyreek hill have had very impressive seasons. I can see them exploiting the home field advantage and the aging defense of the Patriots.
This should be a shootout as it was earlier in the season. However, the cold weather could stop the free flowing attacks. Either way I would say the Chiefs will be going to Atlanta. This is a passing of the torch match as the old guard of Tom Brady hands it to the hot new QB in Mahomes who had a career year in his first season. 50 touchdowns and over 5000 yards should make him the MVP this season. Not a bad way to start your career in the NFL.
Travis Kelce or Sony Michel to score the first or last touchdown
Chiefs to score every quarter and win
over 10.5 points in the first quarter
Kansas City Chiefs to win both halves
Rams @ Saints
The game that ended the unbeaten season for the Rams. The game which showed that the Saints were for real. I have been behind New Orleans since before the season began but I have to say this is the one game I did not want to be judging again. This is because they are so evenly balance but also because of the creative head coaches they have.
I still fancy the Saints to end up in the Superbowl and think that the home advantage is the reason why. The voodoo of the Superdome is real. With Brees and Payton the Saints have never lost a home playoff game. They would have been in this game last season too if it weren’t for the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’.
However, I feel that the Rams shouldn’t be taken lightly. Such a dynamic offense and a stacked defense is hard to ignore. I just think the experience of Brees will play out, as Jared Goff makes his first NFC Championship game but surely not his last. The run game for both teams is very impressive and Todd Gurley is the biggest threat and the key to victory will be once again keeping him quiet. The Rams are also without Kupp who proved to be one of Goff’s main targets before his season was ended by injury.
The Rams also have Marcus Peters who will be keen to face the Chiefs once again after they traded him at the start of the season. Additionally the comments made after they first faced the Saints this season seemed to indicate he was the weak link. In fact it was he who made the error which lead to the key touchdown which turned out to be the match winner for New Orleans. However, he is one of the leagues best defensive players and is a key part of the star studded names in the LA side. Aaron Donald’s stellar year at defensive tackle has also seen his name banded around in the MVP conversation. But I’m expecting another high scoring game, despite New Orleans having held their opponents to under 20 points in their last five games.
Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas to score the first or last touchdown
Drew Brees and Jared Goff to have over 274.5 passing yards
Barndin Cooks to score a touchdown
Taysom Hill to score a touchdown
So who wins?
I was one of those who would love to see the Chiefs play the Rams in the Superbowl after their record breaking 54-51 game. With all four of the highest scoring teams left any game in Atlanta should produce. But if I had to pick I would go with Chiefs v Saints. Whatever happens I won’t be disappointed though.
There are a couple of specials that caught my eye too:
Both conference games to have over 60.5 points
Sony Michel, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley and Tyreek Hill all to score a rushing TD
All 4 QB’s to pass for 2+ TDS each and pass for 275+ yards each