The National Football League got to see some memorable matches in the 2018 season just when they were needed to divert attention to controversies outside the field.
One was the New York Saints 45-35 shootout victory over the Los Angeles Rams on November 4th. Another was the 43-40 victory of the New England Patriots at the Kansas City Chiefs on October 14 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Sunday championship matches are rematches of those classics and promise promising, good scoring games. An important difference, the location of Chiefs-Patriots is Kansas City, not Foxborough.
The games include the three NFL teams that had more than 30 points on average in the regular league and two who produced more than 400 yards in a match – Chiefs (425.6 yards, 35.3 points), Rams (421.1, 32). , 9), Saints (379.2, 31.5). The Patriots are not faint on 393.4 and 27.3.
The handicappers have the Saints and Chiefs 3 to 3.5-point favorites, which means they basically judge the teams, but give the usual 3-point edge to the home team.
New England is an underdog in a postseason game for the first time since 2013 in Denver. The Patriots have not won a championship race on the road since 2004. Their last five games in the AFC championship have come home. Kansas City is the first championship for conferences in 1994 when the Chiefs were lost at the Bills in Orchard Park.
A capsule tin at the NFL conference championships on Sunday:
Rams (14-3) at Saints (14-3)
TV: Fox, 3:05 PM
The line: Saints -3.
Record ATS: Rams 9-8; Saints 10-7.
Above / below: 56.
Times over / under: Rams 10/6/1; Saints 8/9.
The scoop on the rams: There is a perception that the offense of the Rams slowed down the last third of the regular season. It probably stems from a loss in Chicago when L.A scored six points and only won 214 yards. That was an outlier. With Jared Goff at quarterback, Robert Woods on the receiving end and Todd Gurley with the ball, the Rams won 400 yards or more in five of their last eight games. The only change was that injured WR Cooper Kupp was lost for the season. … Goff passed 32 touchdowns and a 101.1 rating, and Gurley led the competition with 17 rushing touchdowns despite being the last two games of the regular season. He averaged 4.9 meters per carry. When Gurley went out, the Rams signed the free agent C.J. Anderson, who earlier went back to the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders. He ran for 123 yards in last week's victory over Dallas. … NFL-bagleader Aaron Donald (20.5 bags from his tackle position) leads the defense. The Rams have top corners in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. You could sign for the shady NFL receiver leader Michael Thomas, who had 125 catches in the regular season and beat 12 for 171 yards during the Eagles' play-off victory last week.
The first for the saints: Many predictors think it will be almost impossible for a team to beat the Saints in a playoff game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans is 9-10 overall in postseason games, 7-3 at home. New Orleans has not had a playoff game at home since 1992 … There is some concern that Saints QB Drew Brees is playing with an injury. He passed less than 300 meters in five of the last eight regular season races of the Saints and sent an interception on his first pass against the Eagles last week. New Orleans returned to last week's game with a masterful 18-play 92-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter that started 11:29. It was not a vintage Brees pass. Also the passing race of the Saints is concentrated on Thomas. About one of the three completions of the New Orleans pass went to Thomas. What balance the saints have in the form of running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Kamara drove 14 touchdowns and an average of 4.6 yards per carry. He is a receiving threat. … New Orleans faces a strong attack from Rams without injured DT Shelton Rankins. David Onyemata, a Canadian with a novice experience, will replace Rankins (torn Achilles). They signed the free agent Tyrunn Walker this week to replace Rankins on the roster.
Outlook: The rams have a better balance. If they contain Thomas and have pocket pressures on Brees, they can calm the Dome crowd. Rams, 33-30.
Patriots (12-5) at Chiefs (13-4)
TV: CBS, 18.40 hours
The line: Chiefs -3.
Record ATS: Patriots 10-7; Chiefs 10-7.
Above / below: 56.
Times over / under: Patriots 6/11; Chiefs 10/6/1.
The first for the Patriots: It seems most of America outside the New England roots against the Patriots. It is a sort of way in which people, especially the media, are rooted against the Bills that go back to a fourth street Super Bowl in the nineties. … New England has not had a & # 39; postseason road game & # 39; won in San Diego. The Patriots have played 38 postseason matches with Bill Belichick as coach and Tom Brady with quarterback. They have won 28 (20 at home, 3 out and 5 neutral sites). Three of the 10 losses in the season season were at home, four away and three at neutral locations (Super Bowls). … Belichick and his staff have thoroughly outnumbered Anthony Lynn and the Chargers last week. It may be harder to beat veteran Andy Reid and the Chiefs with all their weapons and a vocal home crowd. New England riddled the Chargers back with short passes to Julian Edelman and James White. They should test the fast linebacker group of the Chief. The defense of New England is overlooked, but the Chargers could not do much last week. L.A. had problems in passing the pass and opened against the secondary of an experienced patriot.
The first for the Chiefs: Kansas City allowed 405.5 yards per game during the regular season, but the defense defeated Andrew Luck and the Colts last week. The Chiefs pass-rush has always been something to fear at home because of the noise of the crowd. Kansas City had 52 sacks in the regular season, 32 of which were in Arrowhead. … Only once in his first season as a starter did Mahomes not succeed in throwing a touchdown pass. He had four or more TD passes in six games of the regular season. Fourteen of his 50 TD passes were for 20 yards or more. Ten went to TE Travis Kelce, who had 103 receptions. More dangerous was the fast WR Tyreek Hill, which has 12 TD catches, five for 50 yards or more. … The Chiefs have dismissed RB Kareem Hunt, a productive runner and receiver, after eleven matches, but have compensated for the loss of a major weapon by signing the free agent Damien Williams, who had a try-out with the Patriots in 2017 . ex-Bill Mike Gillislee. … Chris Jones leads the Chiefs with 15.5 bags, but outside Linebackers Dee Ford and Justin Houston are perhaps more dangerous.
Outlook: Snow is expected on Saturday in Kansas City, but the prediction for the matchday is not that bad. The game temperature is expected to be around 20 degrees. … It will be interesting to see if Belichick is the first coach to come up with a defensive plan that will ensure that Mahomes-Hill-Kelce is not baffled. Chiefs, 30-27.
Last week: The Chiefs, Rams and Patriots covered the spread. The Saints, an 8-point favorite over the Eagles, only won six. Two games passed and two passed.
The record of last week: 3-1 straight up; 2-2 against the spread.
The record of the season: 135-96-2 straight up; 117-108-8 against the spread.