Who Will Be This Year’s Super Bowl Matchup?
It was a relatively uneventful division round, with each of the top two seeds from each conference winning pretty convincingly. Now let’s look at who’s going to punch their ticket to the NFL Super Bowl
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints
The Rams and Saints will meet for the second time this season. The first time they played this year, it was a great game, with the Saints scoring a late touchdown to win it 45-35. I expect that this game will be similar. Both teams’ defenses have been playing better, so I don’t expect the score to be quite as high. In order for the Saints to win, it starts with shutting down the run game. The Rams’ offense is predicated on running the ball to set up play action. Last week, they were able to run all over the Cowboys, which allowed them to do whatever they wanted on offense. They ended up scoring 30 points versus a very solid defense. The Rams’ three losses this year were when he was either bottled up or when they were put in a position where they had to pass. When they don’t or can’t run, their pass game just isn’t as opened up as it needs to be. If the Rams want to win, they need to get Gurley going. I’m not sure there’s much they can do defensively to stop this Saints offense. The Eagles did for a quarter or so last weekend but the Saints turned it on. They are almost always able to adjust to whatever a defense throws at them. In the end, I’m going to give the edge to the more experienced coach and more experienced quarterback.
Final Score: 31-28 Saints
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
Another rematch of an incredible shootout, this time these two teams will meet at Arrowhead. I think the location change could be the difference in this one. Although the Patriots have now been to eight straight AFC Championship games, they haven’t won any of those eight when on the road. Like the NFC game, I don’t expect this to be the 43-40 shootout that it was in week 6. Both defenses played very well vs highly ranked offenses in the divisional round. The key to the Patriots winning is giving Mahomes unusual looks on defense. Even though he’s been great this year, he’s still young and inexperienced. If he’s given presnap looks that he hasn’t seen before, he may panic and start to turn the ball over. And no one is better at taking advantage of a team’s mistakes than the Patriots. If the Chiefs want to win, they need to get to Brady. Brady is worse than most quarterbacks when pressured. In fact, at one point late in the season, he was ranked 32nd in the league against the blitz. If Dee Ford and Justin Houston can get pressure on Brady, the Chiefs have a chance. The Chiefs also can’t sit back in a zone, especially on medium to long third downs. The Patriots have shown time and time again that if you rush 3 or 4 and drop 7 or 8, their receivers will get wide open and Brady will pick you apart. They need to get pressure and play man as much as possible. Ultimately, I’m going to give the nod to the home team. I think the Chiefs’ offense will be too much for the Patriots to handle.
Final Score: 38-28 Chiefs
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)
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