NFC/AFC Championship Predictions

Updated: January 19th 2019

The road teams dominated the first weekend of the playoffs and the home teams took care of business last weekend in the Divisional Round. Consequently, the four best teams from the regular season are now the final four teams left in the chase to the Lombardi Trophy. The #1 seeded Saints will host the #2 Rams in what will be a very boisterous Super Dome and the #2 Patriots hit the road to Arrowhead to face the #1 Chiefs in Tom Brady’s unprecedented 13th AFC Championship Game and his eighth in a row. Here is how our writers stand after two weeks of the playoffs with their respective predictions:

  1. Stephen Wendell: 6-2 ML & 5-3 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 5-3 ML & 5-3 ATS
  3. Kyle English: 6-2 ML & 3-5 ATS
  4. Matt Goodwin: 5-3 ML & 4-4 ATS
  5. Nick Andrews: 5-3 ML & 4-4 ATS
  6. Bernard Faller: 5-3 ML & 6-2 ATS

A quick summary of the picks for this week are below in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. #2 Los Angeles Rams @ #1 New Orleans Saints (Line NO -3): ML – 2 LA & 4 NO // ATS – 2 LA & 4 NO
  2. #2 New England Patriots @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs (Line KC -3): ML – 2 NE & 4 KC // ATS – 3 NE & 3 KC

#2 Los Angeles Rams (13-3) @ #1 New Orleans Saints (13-3) [Line: NO -3]

Stephen Wendell: Drew Brees is going to prove too good at home. They showed a ton of poise coming back on the Eagles last week and I think the Saints win a shootout. Projected Score: Saints 35 – Rams 31.

Matt Papson: The Rams lost their way a bit toward the end of the season, but they have the most talented roster in the NFL. Even though the Super Dome will be rocking, I think the Rams will take care of business. Projected Score: Rams 31 – Saints 27.

Kyle English: No analysis, just predictions. Projected Score: Saints 28 – Rams 24.

Matt Goodwin: The Rams getting points as an underdog is appealing on many fronts. While they are on the road and lost handily to the Saints there earlier in the season, I like what the Rams are doing with the run game right now with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson and the chess match between the All-Sean coaching matchup is going to be fun. I expect the very-banged up offensive line of the Saints (three starters got in limited practice on Wed) and that also adds Terron Armstead, who has been playing through a pectoral injury since Week 10, to get all sorts of overpowered by Aaron Donald and the front four of the Rams. I’d like the Rams to have Cooper Kupp in this game to feel better about their passing offense, but I expect them to do enough there to win this game outright and definitely to cover. To me, the only way the Saints win this game is if Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas both go off in this game, which is certainly possible because “Can’t Guard Mike” has been more than a Twitter handle this year and Marcus Peters talks more than he produces. In the end, my LA-born and huge Rams fan Jory celebrates a Rams victory this weekend. Projected Score: Rams 30 – Saints 27.

Nick Andrews: Will the Saints continue to hold off teams with strong running attacks? They better if they hope to continue on in the playoffs. The Rams ran right through the Cowboys last week and will likely gameplan to do the same. I think the Saints have the better defense of these two teams and in a Dome this could be a track meet. It will likely come down to that particular matchup in which I think the Saints do enough to hold back the Rams. Projected Score: Saints 38 – Rams 31.

Bernard Faller: I like the diversity of the Los Angeles passing attack a little better than the Saints where Michael Thomas dominates targets.  The Rankins loss also hurts the core of this Saints defense which is facing a team that ran for 273 rushing yards last week.  The Rams get revenge in this one after losing the first meeting.  Projected Score: Rams 31 – Saints 27.

#2 New England Patriots (11-5) @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) [Line: KC -3]

Stephen Wendell: I love Patrick Mahomes and will be rooting for him to win the football game but I have learned one thing in all my years of betting on football games, do not bet against Tom Brady. So, Chiefs win but by one point in an exciting finish at Arrowhead. Projected Score: Chiefs 28 – Patriots 27.

Matt Papson: Deep, deep in my heart, I want Andy Reid & the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. I think he’s not only the second best coach of the modern era, but one of the best coaches of all time. A Super Bowl victory would cement his legacy. Despite that, for a truly unknown reason, I suspect the Patriots to emerge victorious. Projected Score: Patriots 28 – Chiefs 27.

Kyle English: No analysis, just predictions. Projected Score: Chiefs 34 – Patriots 28.

Matt Goodwin: I was a week premature to officially bury the Patriots as they breezed past the Chargers and looked amazing on offense in doing so. Which Bill Belichick likes to take the best weapon out of the mix for a team like the Chiefs, they have a few to focus on. I think Pat Mahomes gets his anyways, and it will prove impossible to stop both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in this game. Hill seems to play big vs. the Patriots. In the end, if this game was in Foxboro, I’d like the Patriots who were 9-0 at home this season. However, the Patriots went 3-5 on the road and while that doesn’t mean much for as experienced team as they are and it is hard to pick against the GOAT Tom Brady in a game like this, I think the weather helps the Chiefs and Arrowhead is a huge home-field advantage. Plus, selfishly I want to see a rematch of the epic Monday Night Football game from earlier in the season. If the Patriots end up on the plus side of the scoreboard, I do think this is the first game where they will feel the sting of having Damien Williams and Spencer Ware instead of Kareem Hunt from a skill-set perspective. Projected Score: Chiefs 31 – Patriots 27.

Nick Andrews: Unlike the first game I don’t see this one being a shootout. In fact I see this AFC Championship going similar to last year’s with a Patriots’ opponent getting out to a lead late in the 3rd quarter but coach Reid takes his foot off the gas just enough for the Pats to rally with a couple 4th quarter scores. Projected Score: Patriots 24- Chiefs 21.

Bernard Faller: The Patriots absolutely decimated the Chargers last week seemingly scoring at will by dinking and dunking short passes to James White and running the ball at will with little resistance from the Los Angeles defense.  The Chiefs similarly destroyed the Colts.  A Brady-Brees super bowl matchup certainly has some appeal, and is a good possibility, but two of the NFL’s top young offenses provide a tantalizing storyline also.  New England edged out Kansas City in the first meeting.  The Chiefs take this one at home. Projected Score: Chiefs 39 – Patriots 35.

 

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell