Championship Sunday Preview/Picks from the Iceman
Championship Sunday is nearly upon us and we should be in for a real treat as both the NFC and AFC Championship games are rematches from the regular season, featuring the top seeds in each conference. The NFC Championship between the Rams and Saints kicks off first at 1:05 PM MST, and the Saints won a week 9 matchup between these two 45-35 in NOLA. From a defensive standpoint, both teams are solid, but I'd have to give the edge to LA, especially since cornerback Aquib Talib is healthy for this matchup, which wasn't the case when these teams met in November.
One of the keys for a Rams' victory is for Talib and fellow DB Marcus Peters to keep Michael Thomas in check as he torched LA for 211 yards on 12 receptions including the game-winning 72-yard touchdown catch in their prior meeting. In terms of run defense, the edge clearly goes to the Saints here as the team hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since week 11 of last season. This could change though with the Rams double-headed monster at tailback of Gurley and Anderson. Of course, it goes without saying that if LA wants to win then they will have to put tremendous pressure on Drew Brees who had an MVP like performance back in November throwing for 346 yards and 4 TD's.
Jared Goff also had a career day as he threw for 391 yards and 3 touchdowns. This time I don't see the contest as being a shootout, as both defenses have settled in. With that being said, the Saints haven't been playing as well as they did earlier in the season, and this time the Rams will get to Brees unlike in their previous meeting, Rams win 27-24 and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2000 season.
The AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and Patriots kicks off at 4:40 PM MST, and is a rematch from week 6 of the regular season where New England knocked off KC 43-40 in Foxboro. The Chiefs, who are hosting their first AFC Championship game in franchise history, are playing better from a defensive standpoint as of late, nevertheless, this game could be another shootout. What can you say about Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots, other than this is an incredible organization. Love them or hate them, it goes without saying that the Pats are the greatest NFL franchise of all time.
They are making their 15th appearance in the ACF title game, 8th straight overall, Brady has played in this game an astonishing 13 out of his 17 seasons in the NFL, and Belichick is coaching in his 17th AFC Championship game. Those numbers are simply mind-boggling. Despite all of Brady's success though, KC is a 3-point favorite, which breaks Tom Brady's streak of being favored in 67 straight games! The Patriots have a superb ground attack with James White, who had 15 receptions for 97 yards last week against the Chargers, and Sony Michel and should be able to run the ball against the Chiefs.
However, KC's ground game hasn't really been affected by the departure of Kareem Hunt as much as you might have figured, as Damian Williams has done a fine job in his place, and is averaging nearly as many yards per carry. In terms of Brady vs. Mahomes, the edge has to go to the GOAT Brady, but Mahomes should also put up big numbers as well. The bottom line is that the Patriots are not nearly as good on the road as they were at home, as they lost 5 games away from Gillette Stadium, and have lost their last three conference championship games on the road too. I pick the Chiefs to defeat the Patriots 45-34, setting up yet another regualr season rematch in the Super Bowl between the Rams and Kansas City.