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NFL Championship Weekend Predictions

undefined — by Roy Kaplan
undefined — by Roy Kaplan

Well, here we are at the penultimate weekend of the NFL season, and we have what should be two fantastic games on tap. What makes these games more fascinating is they are both rematches from earlier regular season shootouts (the Saints defeating the Rams 45-35, and the Patriots squeaking out a 43-40 win over the Chiefs). They also feature future first ballot Hall of Famers (Tom Brady and Drew Brees) taking on the future of the game (Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff). Let's take a look at the games:

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs: Another year, and another AFC title game appearance for the Pats. Also,we're hearing, again, “this is the end for the Patriots, they are too old, slow, (or any other negative adjective) and the other team has too many weapons”. Wasn't San Diego supposed to take care of New England last week? We all saw how that turned out. And New England's offense looked just fine in their regular season victory over the Chiefs. This time around, Kansas City must get pressure on Brady, but easier said than done. San Diego's vaunted pass rush got nowhere near Brady, and the game was over at halftime. If Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and company can't penetrate the backfield, the Chiefs may find themselves in the same predicament. On the other hand, it will be curious to see how the Pats choose to defend KC. Maybe they test Mahomes' patience and play lots of dime packages, forcing him to dink and dunk and maybe make a fatal mistake. Truthfully, Mahomes looked quite ordinary against the Colts last week, missing a number a routine passes. He needs to step it up, if the Chiefs are to pull off the win. And Brady, well, looked like playoff Brady. As far as the coaches are concerned, Andy Reid is a great coach. He wins. He develops QBs with the best of them. He is really good at game-planning. Unfortunately, Reid also has self-destructed in the playoffs with poor clock management, in-game adjustments, etc. On the other sideline is the master game-planner, and in-game strategist. We all have to understand that Bill Belichick, before he became a head coach, was the architect of a Giants defense that twice took down Joe Montana and the 49ers on the way to Super Bowl victories. The coaching gap will show itself again here. At the end, it will be the same result for the third straight year: Patriots in the Super Bowl. Final Score: Patriots 31 Chiefs 21

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints: You have to give Sean McVay a ton of credit. He proved last week that he was more than a quarterback whisperer. Did you expect the Rams to run at will against a very strong Dallas front seven? Neither did I. He proved that he learned from last year's playoff disappointment, and adapted. What will he do this week? With Saints DT Sheldon Rankins (achilles) out, McVay may decide to test the Saints run defense early. Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson will get some yards, but not to the extent of last week. Expect to see Jared Goff pass more often in this game, as this is really the identity of the team. I find Goff an interesting player, as he is so laid back, you don't realize that he once or twice a game makes a real special pass that flies under the radar until you see the replay. If he makes those passes today, it bodes well for the Rams. Drew Brees looked a bit out of sorts at times last week, but made the throws when they counted. I expect him to come out throwing, especially to whoever Marcus Peters, who has been underwhelming, is covering. I also expect Michael Thomas to get his catches. At the same time, the Rams completely shut down the Dallas running game last week. It will be interesting to see how the Saints fare with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram attacking the Rams front seven. Let's not forget the Saints fearless coach, Sean Payton. Last week, he called for a fake punt that turned around the game against the Eagle last week. There will be a point in today's game, Payton will take a huge gamble again. The only question is if the result will propel the Saints, or help the Rams. On the defensive side, I expect both front sevens to get some pressure on each QB. The question is who will create the most turnovers. Aaron Donald of the Rams is the best defensive player on either side. Expect him to make the game-changing play late in this game. Final Score: Rams 30 Saints 24

This article was originally published on @krunchers