The NFL Playoffs roll on with the Conference Championships, and Palmerbet Sports Team’s preview has NFL tips for both monster showdowns as Super Bowl spots go on the line.
History: Played 75: Rams 41 V Sainst 34
Last meeting: November 4, 2018: Saints 45 d Rams 35 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Final Thoughts: The only teams in the NFL with a 13-3 regular-season record square off for the NFC Championship and the first Super Bowl berth. The LA Rams are in their first Conference Championship since they reached the 2001 Super Bowl. The New Orleans Saints have not been to this stage since winning the Super Bowl in 2009 – but the hold a significant advantage in recent playoffs experience.
The Rams accounted for the Cowboys 30-22 last week in convincing style. They never looked like being headed after a dominant 17-0 second quarter. Jared Goff had a modest game under center. But that was more than made up for by C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley, who combined for 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Saints showed plenty of poise and grit to power to a 20-14 victory over the defending champion Eagles in the Divisional Round. Drew Brees’ class and experience came to the fore, reeling off 301 yards and two TDs. Wide receiver Michael Thomas had a huge game with 171 yards.
The Saints carved out a 45-35 win when these sides met in New Orleans in Week 9, building a match-winning 18-point lead by halftime. Brees (346 yds, 4 TDs) and Goff (391 yds, 3 TDs) both had a day out. Another high-scorer looms between two of the league’s most potent offences.
It was the Saints’ third straight win over the Rams in New Orleans. The last six matches between the sides won by the home team. They have met just once in the playoffs previously, with the Saints winning the 2000 NFL Wild Card Game.
The key for the Saints is reproducing the rush defence that foiled Nick Foles and the Eagles last week. The Superdome advantage and Brees’ spectacular form should be enough to get them over the line against the Rams.
History: Played 36: Chiefs 18 V Patriots 15 (3 Draws)
Last meeting: October 14, 2018: Patriots 43 d Chiefs 40 at Gillette Stadium
Final Thoughts: The New England Patriots line up for their eighth straight AFC Championship Game, searching for their fifth Super Bowl appearance during that time. The Pats were far too strong for the Chargers in the Divisional Round, storming to a 35-7 halftime lead before easing to a 41-28 win. Tom Brady immediately stepped into post-season mode with 343 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots’ rush defence was also outstanding.
The Kansas City Chiefs qualified for their first Conference Championship appearance since the 1993 season by lowing the Colts away 31-13. Patrick Mahomes passed for 278 yards, while Damien Williams starred with 129 yards and a TD on 25 carries.
The Pats grabbed a momentous 43-40 road win over the Chiefs in Week 6, despite Mahomes (352 yds, 4 TDs) outpointing Brady (340 yds, 1 TD).
The Patriots have won four of the last six between the teams, but the Chiefs have won the last two – and eight of the last 10, with one tie – in Kansas City. Their only previous post-season clash, the 2016 AFC Divisional Playoff, resulted in a 27-20 victory to the Patriots.
A key talking point ahead of this showdown is the Patriots’ 3-5 away record this season, with three of the losses by double-figure margins. The Chiefs’ record at Arrowhead is a muscular 8-1, averaging 35 points and less than 18 against per outing at home.
But post-season experience – with the quarterback G.O.A.T. lining up against the rookie – counts for just as much and we can’t overlook the Patriots as a juicy underdog in this tantalising clash.