Conference Championship Weekend Predictions

Jacob Chaimovitch and Josh Hobbs

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We started with 12 teams, we are down to four. Two teams from the AFC and two teams from the NFC. Coincidently, they are both the #1 and #2 seeds. The Los Angeles Rams travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints at 3:05 pm on Sunday. Nearly immediately after, the New England Patriots take the trip to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the first AFC conference championship in Kansas City. For the third time, Jacob (3-5 picks record) and Josh (5-3 picks record) return for their picks for both championship games and choose which teams they want to move on to Super Bowl LIII. Here we go.

          #2 Los Angeles Rams at #1 New Orleans Saints (NFC Championship Game)

Jacob:

I don’t want to pick one. You can’t make me. I want both to win for their own reasons. Both teams have an incredible pair of running backs in the backfield. While Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II have been a dynamic two-headed rushing monster for the Saints, the Rams also have a two-headed monster with C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley II. Both teams also have an excellent receiving core as well. Before you snap at me, yes I forgot to mention Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods as a WR1 and WR2 respectively for the Rams. Cooper Kupp didn’t even see a snap against the Cowboys. Now, stop talking about my mistake. Not that it would have mattered anyway: neither of them got a receiving touchdown and combined for 134 yards.   the difference between the two teams. Jared Goff’s ‘Mr. Reliable’ has been Todd Gurley all season. Drew Brees’ ‘Mr. Reliable’ has been Alvin Kamara……and Mark Ingram II……and Michael Thomas. You get the point. The wild card in this game is the defense for both teams. If the Rams can get pressure to Brees, the Rams will likely win the game. If the Saints can halt the Rams’ run game and keep forcing Goff to throw it, the Saints will likely win the game. For this, we look at the Week 9 matchup between these two teams. In the game, Congrats, New Orleans. You’re off to Atlanta for your 2nd Super Bowl appearance.

Rams 34, Saints 42

Josh:

Wow, what a game. Both teams have already faced each other in the regular season, with the Saints taking that battle. I believe that Saints win this game for two reasons: Run defense and Drew Brees. I believe this game will be a shootout and could very possibly come down to who has the ball last, or who can make the crucial stop, or create the game-winning turnover. When you look at any of those scenarios, I feel like the Saints have the advantage. They’re at home and will have the benefit of playing in one of the toughest environments, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. As for the run defense and Drew Brees, it’s really quite simple. The Saints have the advantage in the most important position, quarterback. Don’t get me wrong Jared Goff is an elite quarterback, but Drew Brees for me is on another level and would win MVP if it weren’t for a man named Patrick Mahomes II. Then we come to the run defense. Throughout the regular season, the Saints did one thing well on defense, stop the run, where they were ranked among the top 5 in the category. On the other side, the Rams had the worst run defense throughout the regular season. Because of this, I see the Saints forcing the Rams to play one-dimensional which is not a strength for Jared Goff, whereas the Saints will be able to throw against a struggling secondary of the Rams, and also run the ball down their throat to control the clock. Look for a close game, but expect the Saints to come through and advance to the Superbowl.

Rams 27, Saints 33

          #2 New England Patriots at #1 Kansas City Chiefs (AFC Championship Game)

Jacob:

When I first saw this matchup, I immediately thought of Star Wars. Hear me out. On one side of the ball, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Andy Reid) and his young protege Luke Skywalker (Patrick Mahomes) lead the Kansas City Chiefs into battle against Emperor Palpatine (Bill Belichick does look like him doesn’t he?), his golden boy, Darth Vader (Tom Brady), and the rest of the NFL’s evil empire: the New England Patriots. Like the Saints and Rams, these two teams met already in a Week 6 duel at Foxborough; the Patriots won 43-40 in an absolute barnburner. The Chiefs loss was their first of the season after starting 5-0. Similar to the NFC Championship, let’s break down this game as an influence for the AFC Championship game as well as another factor in the actual game. In the Week 6 clash, which ended with a game-winning 28-yard FG as time expired, Mahomes shined while Brady focused more on the run. Mahomes threw four TDs – three to Tyreek Hill – while getting picked off twice. Brady only threw one TD and even ran for one. Sony Michel ran for the other two Patriots’ TDs. One thing to consider going into this matchup is that the Chiefs are heavy favorites according to ESPN. The Chiefs are given a 66.8% chance to win. They’re at home, they have plenty of offensive weapons, and the Patriots are more vulnerable than ever. What could go wrong? I’ll tell you. Despite this being the first AFC Championship Game hosted at Arrowhead – and the crowd will likely be boisterous – it will feel like a home game for New England. It is projected to be blistering cold in Kansas City on Sunday. To me, it just sounds like a normal day in January for the Patriots. What happened the last time these two teams met in Foxborough? The Patriots win a dogfight to go to their third consecutive Suber Bowl.

Patriots 48, Chiefs 42

Josh:

Once again, another incredible matchup. Just like the previous game, these teams have already faced each other in the regular season, with the Patriots taking that battle 43-40 in Week 6. Let’s start with the Pats. No one can deny that the Patriots looked incredible in their dominating win over the Chargers last Sunday, scoring on nearly every offensive possession in the first 3 quarters. They also held the Chargers to just seven points in the first half, making Phillip Rivers very uncomfortable and completely taking away the running game. No matter how many people doubt the ability of the Patriots to keep hold of their ‘dynasty’ status, they always seem to prove doubters wrong, as their win on Sunday advanced them to their 8th straight AFC championship performance. On the other side, this will be the first AFC championship game for Kansas City since 1993, and the first time ever the Chiefs will be hosting the game. In their game against the Colts, they dominated the majority of the game, particularly of defense holding the red-hot Colts to just 13 points and 0-9 on 3rd down. If their defense is able to keep up the great play, there’s no team left I see beating the Chiefs. When it comes to experience, the Patriots clearly have the advantage, but I see the Chiefs finding a way to pull this one out. First of all, the Patriots have for the most part played their playoff games at home, as they have typically been the Number 1 seed every year, meaning the majority of their playoff victories have come at home in Foxborough. I think this will be a big advantage for the Chiefs because the record for Tom Brady playoff teams on the road isn’t very impressive. Now, the Chiefs aren’t exactly in a ‘better boat’ because Andy Reid in his long career is just 1-4 in conference championship games (all in the NFC). But, this is undoubtedly the best team Coach Reid has ever had and the best quarterback he has ever had, so I look for the Chiefs to come out on top of this one in a sort of revenge game. I think the key for the Chiefs to win is to control the time of possession and be able to run the ball effectively. Plus, if their defense is able to play to the same level as they did against the Colts, it will be a long night for the Pats.

Patriots 29, Chiefs 33

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Conference Championship Weekend Predictions