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- Los Angeles Rams Vs. New Orleans Saints. Conference Championship Game Sunday kicks off with a rematch of the Week 9 tilt between these two teams, with the Saints winning 45-35 in that game. The game proved to be the difference for the Saints, as it’s the reason why this game is being played in New Orleans and not Los Angeles. The Rams are coming off a game against the Dallas Cowboys, in which Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson both ran for 100 yards or more, along with their defense getting timely stops in the 30-22 win. As for the Saints, they started out slow yet again, and were both a potential failed fake punt attempt and potential Alshon Jeffery reception away from possibly being eliminated by the Philadelphia Eagles. Slow starts have been an ongoing theme for the Saints and have lost two games late in the season as a result of that. The Saints’ slow starts, and the quality that the Rams possess at the cornerback position, along with having the tandem of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on their defensive line, all provide persuasive points in me favoring the Week 9 loser this time around. However, I just can’t take 24-year old Jared Goff over the venerable Drew Brees. Especially in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a place in which the Purdue alum is 6-0 all-time in the postseason. Make it 7-0, because Brees will somehow find a way to get the Saints in the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history.
- New England Patriots Vs. Kansas City Chiefs. Just like the NFC Championship Game, this is also a rematch. However, the first meeting between these two teams happened three weeks prior to Week 9, as the Patriots won 43-40 at the buzzer. Many thought that the Chiefs would slip up many more times after that, and that the Patriots would have yet another AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. But the Chiefs kept their foot to the gas (only three subsequent losses), and benefitted from the Patriots (two early season losses) losing road games against the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers to ultimately have the game at Arrowhead Stadium this time around. The Week 6 matchup was a near scare for the Patriots, as the Chiefs were the only team to even have a lead against them in Gillette Stadium at any point this season, along with erasing a 24-9 halftime deficit and outscoring them 31-19 in the second half. So much has been made of the Patriots’ reputation, Bill Belichick’s over-rated defense supposedly having the edge over Andy Reid’s offense, and the recent rumor that the weather will slow down Patrick Mahomes & Company. However, I’m not reading into any of that because the Patriots have totally over-achieved this season, the Patriots defense is statistically worse on the road than at home this season and the Chiefs adjusted fine to Mother Nature’s bitchiness in their 31-13 win against the Indianapolis Colts last week. Plus, the Chiefs have Justin Houston this time around and he will make the Chiefs pass rush even more daunting in the rematch. Plus, Houston is completely healthy, which is bad news for the Patriots, as he has four sacks against the Patriots in his career and the Chiefs won the games in which he achieved that feat. Oh yeah, and he has a streak of at least one sack in five straight games, so his pass rushing prowess is peaking at the right time. Look for the Chiefs to bottle up Sony Michel, look for Houston to continue his assault against the Patriots, look for Dee Ford and Chris Jones to get to Tom Brady as well, and look for the Chiefs offense to adjust accordingly to whatever Mother Nature brings their way. This is the first ever AFC Championship Game in Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs will seize the moment to finally give us some new blood for the AFC side in Super Bowl 53, as well as their first Super Bowl appearance in 49 years.