The NFL is down to the final eight teams who are each competing for a spot in the conference championship. Rivers tries to beat Brady for the first time, the defending champs look to keep it going, Andrew Luck looks to stay hot against the Chiefs, and the Cowboys head to LA to face the Rams. Here are my preview and predictions for each matchup.
Saturday, January 12th 4:35 PM: #6 Indianapolis Colts @ #1 Kansas City Chiefs (-6)
The top two quarterbacks in touchdown passes will face off against each other in Arrowhead in a game that figures to be very high scoring. Andrew Luck’s comeback season continues as the much improved offensive line for the Colts has allowed him plenty of time to get the ball to T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. Marlon Mack has been effective on the ground as well. The Chiefs defense has been one of the worst all season, and could be very vulnerable against the Colts offensive if they’re unable to generate a pass rush. Meanwhile, rookie Darius Leonard and the Colts defense will have to contain Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. Mahomes, an MVP candidate, will try to finally lead the Chiefs to the AFC Championship for the first time under Andy Reid. I think Colts coach Frank Reich has been phenomenal for the team this season, and has experience in big playoff games. Andy Reid has historically faltered in the postseason. The Colts continue their momentum and the Chiefs falter once again. Indianapolis 38, Kansas City 30.
Saturday, January 12th 8:35 PM: #4 Dallas Cowboys @ #2 Los Angeles Rams (-7)
It may feel like a home game for Dallas as they travel out to LA to take on the Rams, but Sean McVay and the Rams will be ready. The Cowboys defense has been a big key to their success this season, and they will really have to step up to slow down Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and the explosive Rams offense. Jared Goff will make his second career postseason start, with both him and McVay looking for their first career playoff wins. Likely defensive player of the year Aaron Donald leads a fierce Rams pass rush that will try to slow down Dak and Zeke by wreaking havoc at the line all night. I think the Rams are one of the top two teams left in the playoffs right now, and they are just too talented to lose to the Cowboys in this one. Los Angeles 27, Dallas 17.
Sunday, January 13th 1:05 PM: #5 Los Angeles Chargers @ #2 New England Patriots (-4.5)
Much has been made of the fact that Philip Rivers is 0-7 against Tom Brady in his career and 0-2 in the playoffs, while the Patriots have dominated the Chargers in recent memory. However, it has been a while since these two teams met in the playoffs, and Rivers appears ready for revenge. The Chargers have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, and Melvin Gordon provide a balanced offensive attack while Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa lead a pass rush that dominated Baltimore last weekend. The Patriots are 24-4 all time at home in the playoffs, and haven’t lost at home since 2012. However, this has clearly been a weaker New England team this year. While the secondary has been good, the rushing defense has been very poor and the offense has struggled at times. They don’t have Josh Gordon, Edelman hasn’t looked sharp, and Gronk is on his last legs. I think the Patriots fail to reach the AFC Championship game for the first time since 2010. Los Angeles 20, New England 17.
Sunday, January 13th 4:40 PM: #6 Philadelphia Eagles @ #1 New Orleans Saints (-9)
The defending champions are the biggest underdog of the weekend as they look to continue their quest for a repeat against Drew Brees and the top-seeded Saints. The Eagles barely squeaked by the Bears after some late heroics from Golden Tate and a missed field goal by the Bears. The offense struggled at times and turned the ball over, but the defense held on just enough for them to pull it out in the end. However, Foles will have to play much better if they want to have a chance to win this time. The Saints high powered offense is led by Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara. Brees always plays great at home in the dome, which could be a big advantage for the Saints. Overall, I think New Orleans just has too much talent not too win this game. New Orleans 37, Philadelphia 20.
Let me know your predictions in the comments down below.