Surprise surprise, we’ve basically had all chalk playoff results with the 1 and 2 seeds in both conferences facing off for the right to the Super Bowl. With only three games left (two conference championships and then the Super Bowl), the season is winding down. However, the action is heating up and all three games remaining promise to be very compelling!
Last week: 2-2
Playoff Record: 5-2-1
Saints -3.5 vs Rams
The Saints have been an absolute buzzsaw this year, totally obliterating their competition. They had the highest point differential in the league at +157 (including playoffs), and only have one real loss this year (I exclude the week 17 loss when Bridgewater started for Brees, and the week one loss to the Bucs was a fluke). Sean McVay’s Rams have also been very good this year boasting the second best point differential at +151 (including playoffs). Los Angeles scored the 2nd most points per game at 32.76, only behind Kansas City at 35.06.
While there are a lot of variables to consider, this game will come down to the Rams ability to establish the run via Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson. LA averaged the 3rd most rush yards per game at 139.4, and New Orleans was 2nd in fewest rush yardage allowed per game at 80.2 (just a hair behind Chicago at 80.0). A common thread in all three of the Rams losses was they didn’t have a 100 yard rusher, and they generally rely on their run to set up play action passing down the field.
The Saints won a 45-35 shootout when the two teams played week nine, and this matchup is shaping up to be lower scoring which favors the Drew Brees-led Saints.
Patriots +3 at Chiefs
Two weeks ago I would have told you arctic blast was a Gatorade flavor. Apparently it is just a way to describe a pocket of very cold weather which, coincidentally, may settle in right over Kansas City on Sunday. The projected temperature at kickoff is just 6 degrees and we could see temps in the negatives throughout the game.
Who will the cold effect?
Patrick Mahomes: Played high school and college football in Texas, has only a handful of cold weather NFL games. As per RJ Bell: Mahomes four worst QBR games were the four coldest games he’s played
Tyreek Hill: High school football in Georgia, college football in Alabama and Oklahoma
Sony Michel: Born in Florida, college football in Georgia, under 65 yards in 3 of 5 December and January games (excluding a warm weather away game in Miami)
A three point spread indicates that these teams would be a pick ‘em on a neutral field since teams generally get three points for home field advantage. If we are saying the teams are even, and that it will be super cold, I am making the assumption that this will be a close game. The Patriots are 3-1 in games decided by one score or less with their sole loss coming on the last play of their game in Miami when the Dolphins went 60+ yards on the last play for a TD. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are 4-4 in games decided by one score or less and are 1-1-1 in regulation at home in close games (they beat the Ravens in OT in a week 14 matchup in Arrowhead).
In a close game where the weather is poised to be factor, I’ll take the battle tested duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady who have a history of winning cold weather playoff games.
Stats from ESPN, weather from CBS Sports