© Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing/Predicting NFL Championship Games

Jason Huber
January 18, 2019 - 4:28 pm

Four teams remain in the NFL playoffs and it should be a Sunday full of offense as the remaining teams are all in the top four in scoring this season.

Two legendary quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Drew Brees) and two young quarterbacks bound to be stars (Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff) are leading their teams. 

Three future Hall-of-Fame head coaches and one young on the rise head coach Sean McVay battle on the sidelines. 

There are plenty of intriguing storylines entering conference championship weekend. 

Here are my previews and picks for this week's games: 

Last week's record: 3-1
Total: 6-2

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP 
Sunday at 3:05 p.m., FOX

No. 2-seed Los Angeles Rams (14-3) vs. No. 1-seed New Orleans Saints (14-3)

It's the NFC matchup we all expected throughout the 2018 season. Two high powered offenses going head-to-head to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIII. 

Two 13-win teams facing off for the second time this season following a Saints 45-35 win in New Orleans. This time, it's a bigger stage.

When the two teams met earlier this season, the Saints took a 35-17 halftime lead over then-undefeated Los Angeles.

The Rams made a stellar comeback to tie things up at 35, but a late-game touchdown from Brees to wide receiver Michael Thomas sealed the Saints victory.

Following the game, Los Angeles cornerback Marcus Peters sparked controversy claiming Saints head coach Sean Payton was talking trash about him.

"We're going to meet again," Peters said. "And then we're going to have a nice little bowl of gumbo."

Two months later and here we are.

Since the November meeting, both teams have shown hiccups, but have also proven why they're the NFC's top two teams.

New Orleans fell behind 14-0 to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Divisional Round last week, but used it's defense to come back and win 20-14.

Since Week 7, the Saints have turned their defense around allowing just 16.9 points per game.

Offensively, New Orleans has struggled as of late, but have won 15 of its last 16 games in the Super Dome. That doesn't include a Week 17 meaningless loss to Carolina. The Saints averaged 33.2 points per game in those matchups.

Los Angeles lost two of its final four regular-season games with the only victories coming against the lowly Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, but a dominant 30-22 victory in the Divisional Round over the Dallas Cowboys has silenced most doubters.

Running back Todd Gurley returned to the Rams last week after missing two games due to a knee injury, but the late signing of former Carolina Panthers running back CJ Anderson has proven to be a hidden gem. 

Anderson has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the three games he's played for Los Angeles.

The pair combined for 238 yards against Dallas and have created a running back two-headed monster that can compete with New Orleans' duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. 

Brees will need to have a big game against a strong Rams secondary led by cornerback Aqib Talib that will surely focus in on Thomas.

Having probable Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line, Los Angeles will look to attack the Saints' offensive line quick and in a hurry to get to Brees. 

Defensively for New Orleans, there are areas of concern. 

The loss of defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who tore his Achilles in the team's Divisional Round game could put a damper on the Saints third-ranked run defense.  

Offensively, New Orleans has more experience and a more reliable quarterback, but the Rams have been clicking on offense since the addition of Anderson. 

The Rams finally seem to be getting over the loss of wide receiver Cooper Kupp and are anxious to get to their first Super Bowl in 19 years. 

I picked the Rams to win it all in my preseason predictions and I'm sticking with it.

Prediction: Rams 31 Saints 24

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunday at 6:40 p.m., CBS

No. 2-seed New England Patriots (12-5) vs. No. 1-seed Kansas City Chiefs (13-4)

Every year it seems like we're talking about the Patriots AFC Championship opponent likely being the team to finally dethrone New England's dynasty.

This year is no different as the Patriots are in their eighth-straight conference championship game and Kansas City looks like the future of the AFC with second-year quarterback Mahomes.

With the league's best, the Chiefs are appearing in their first conference championship game since 1993.

Like the Rams and New Orleans game, New England's future Hall-of-Famer Brady faces Mahomes in a matchup that could potentially change the state of the AFC.

Brady and Mahomes are two of just three quarterbacks ever to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season. Mahomes accomplished that feat this season while Brady did it in 2007. 

The two teams met at New England in Week 6 and Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski hit a game-winning field goal for the 43-40 victory in one of the wildest games of the season.

New England went on to lose three more games including the "Miami Miracle," and Kansas City took home-field advantage with their 12 wins. 

Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest stadiums to play in, but it's projected to be very cold and possibly an arctic blast passing through. Game time temperature is expected to be 20 degrees. 

With such frigid temperatures, the game may not be such a shootout like it was last time they met, but neither team is a stranger to cold weather.

Brady finally showed signs of being a 41-year old quarterback this year, but he has impressed again as of late with the help of receiver Julian Edelman, as well as running backs Sony Michel and James White to spark the New England offense.

The Patriots have outscored their last three opponents 103-43. 

In the Divisional Round, the Chiefs dominated Indianapolis from start to finish. Mahomes threw for 278 yards, rushed for a touchdown and running back Damien Williams rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown en route to a 31-13 victory. 

New England stomped the Los Angeles Chargers in a game that many thought the Patriots would lose.

Both teams are riding high entering Sunday's game.

Williams has stepped right in to fill the void of Kareem Hunt, who was cut earlier this season for a domestic violence accusation. 

The Chiefs defense was nearly the worst in the league this season, but performed like a top-five unit against the Colts behind linebackers Justin Houston and Dee Ford, and lineman Chris Jones to create a scary defensive line. 

Kansas City has the better roster, but New England has the experience.

Last week I was wrong in betting against the Patriots, but I'm going to do it again. 

Prediction: Chiefs 23 Patriots 20

Comments ()