And then there were four. The top seeded teams, who earned a bye through wild card weekend, and home field advantage in the divisional playoffs, converted on that advantage and booked their ticket to the Conference Championship. The Chiefs and Patriots each blew out their opponents and will now meet in the AFC Championship, while the Rams and especially the Saints had a hard fought battles to earn their spots in the NFC Championship, both taking place next Sunday.
I went 2-1 with my picks this past week, which brings my playoff record to 3-2 this year.
I will be using SportsInteraction.com for all of my spread picks and predictions throughout the playoffs. You can see our full Sports Interaction review here. I have picks for both Conference Championship games this week.
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints
- Los Angeles +3.5
- New Orleans -3.5
The Saints scraped out a win over the Eagles last week, with their defense really stepping up to shut down the Eagles after giving up two early TD’s. The defense is going to have to once again come up big to beat the Rams, because the Saints offense seems to have fizzled down the stretch. The Saints only put up 30+ points once in their last 6 games, and that was a 31-28 win over the Steelers at home in week 16. The offense had to fight for every point in their win last week against the Eagles, and I don’t see the Saints scoring more than 24 or so points this week against the Rams.
The Rams shut down Ezekiell Elliott and the Cowboys run game last week, and if they can do the same to Kamara and Ingram, the Saints offense takes a massive hit. The Rams have been solid on the road all year, and I expect their D to have a solid game in New Orleans.
On the other side of the ball, Jared Goff has slowed down the stretch, but with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson running downhill at opponents, he hasn’t had to do much. The Saints have a great run defense, and whether or not the Rams can establish their run game will play a massive factor in who wins this game.
In today’s NFL you have to side with the offense more often than the defense, and I believe the Rams offense is playing better at the moment than the Saints offense. For that reason, I think they will be able to take charge in this game, putting the Saints on the back foot, similar to how the Eagles did. The difference is that the Saints aren’t going to be able to shutout the Rams for 3 quarters in this game.
I like the Rams to win this one, and I’m expecting the score to be something like 30-24.
Play: Rams +3.5
New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs
- New England +3
- Kansas City -3
I do not think the Patriots are going to be able to slow down this high powered Chiefs offense. The Pats were terrific at home this year going 9-0, including last weeks playoff game, but they finished only 3-5 on the road, and the defense gave up an average of 398.9 total yards on the road, vs just 321.1 at home. Going into Kansas City, I really don’t see the Pats being able to keep the Chiefs from going off for 30+ in this game.
If the defense for the Pats isn’t going to get it down, then the offense needs to be nearly perfect. Tom Brady has shown in the past he can put up huge numbers in big games, but again, this Chiefs D is far better at home than on the road (344.6 yards against per game at home, vs 456.3 on the road). The Pats do have the ability to score in bunches with their offense actually fairly healthy at the moment, but I think they’re going to have to score 40+ to win this game.
This is going to be a shootout, and I think taking the over 58 may actually be the best bet, but this game being in KC I think is a huge advantage for the Chiefs and may be the difference in the game. I’m more confident that the Chiefs offense will be able to go off, than I am with the Pats on the road.
Play: Chiefs -3