Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2018-19 NFL playoff predictions (Part 3 - Championship)

Welcome to part three of my 2018-19 NFL playoff predictions! A solid three for four on the Divisional games, only missing the Chiefs victory over the Colts and the Arrowhead Curse.

Only four teams remain standing, and all want to play in the Super Bowl. But first, the AFC/NFC Championship games. Here are the four potential match-ups for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta:

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams
New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams

But which match-up will it be?

Let's find out.


#1 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #2 New England Patriots
With the Arrowhead Curse neutralized, the Chiefs have nothing to fear and total confidence heading into the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs and Patriots met once in the regular season, the Chiefs being on the losing end of a 43-40 shootout in week 6. That game, however, was at Gillette Stadium. Now Tom Brady and the Patriots must take the fight on the road.

The Patriots have struggled badly on the road this season, losing five of their eight road games. They haven't won a road playoff game on the road since January 2007. The dismal road record plus the imminent battle against an energized Chiefs squad leaves the Patriots in dire straits.

The Patriots need a perfect effort to defeat the Chiefs, and pray the Arrowhead Curse will return just in time. True, the Patriots shredded the Chargers on the scoreboard in the Divisional game, but the Patriots' performance in the second half of that game is concerning going into the AFC Championship; only six points in the second half? The Patriots need to repeat the first half of that game instead for the complete sixty minutes.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, will be eager to end Tom Brady's season and send him home disappointed.

Prediction: Chiefs win, 35-28.

Result: Patriots win, 37-31 (OT).

Comments after the game:

The Arrowhead Curse is already back. Sheesh.

A chaotic fourth quarter sent this game to overtime, but Tom Brady and the Patriots won first possession. The inevitable Tom Brady game-winning drive followed.

And so the Patriots and the Rams will face off in Super Bowl LIII.


#1 New Orleans Saints vs. #2 Los Angeles Rams

The Saints dethroned the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles, despite trailing 14-0 after the first quarter. The Rams, meanwhile, stampeded through the Cowboys defense after a sluggish start.

The top two teams in the NFC know how to score, regularly posting thirty-plus, forty-plus, and even fifty-plus points on the board. The Saints and the Rams met once in the regular season, the Saints winning 45-35 over the Rams in week 9.

The Saints didn't post many points in their victory over the Eagles, but they won by silencing Nick Foles and the Eagles offense for three quarters. Drew Brees struggled in the first quarter, but roared to life for the rest of the game to lead the Saints to score twenty unanswered points. The Saints' greatest strength is their balance; they are a dangerous team on all fronts, willing to execute brilliant plays and shift the game's momentum in an instant.

The Rams certainly have the firepower to score, but the biggest question is whether they can overcome a strong Saints defense. If not, Drew Brees is heading back to the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Saints win, 41-31.

Result: Rams win, 26-23 (OT).

Comments after the game:
Rams win thanks to the late effort by the referees.

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