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NFL Playoffs 2019: Chiefs Over Saints in the Super Bowl
With Wildcard Weekend wrapped up, the real NFL playoffs begin now. The top two teams in each conference get to host games that count and the best eight teams remaining in the league are all in action in the divisional round, which should probably be more accurately referred to as the conference semifinals.
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Starting with the AFC, the Chargers go to New England to take on the New England Patriots in a game that features two veteran quarterbacks still standing. Philip Rivers is 37 years old, which makes him sound like a teenager next to the everlasting 41-year-old Tom Brady. On neutral ground, Rivers and the sturdy Chargers may well beat the Patriots. This game, however, is at Foxboro, and New England is therefore a heavy favorite to advance.
Andy Reid's record isn't stellar in the playoffs, but he's never quite had a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is so stunningly good, along with being the MVP favorite in his first full year under center, that no one entering this game has Andrew Luck ranked ahead of the Kansas City QB. The Colts turns some heads in how they jumped out to an early lead and put their Wildcard game to bed, but playing at Arrowhead against Mahomes and the no. 1 team in the AFC is test of another grade. KC is 68% to win, which should be noted as the strongest differential of any of the eight teams to advance.
The Chiefs and Patriots meeting in the AFC Championship feels like a passing of the torch from Brady to Mahomes, but Brady likely has no interest in passing anything other than the football. Any previous year, Brady would be the best quarterback on the field without question, but this has been Mahomes season, and it will take a special effort from the weakest looking Patriots team in recent memory to bypass the Chiefs and punch another ticket to the Super Bowl for the Pats.
The Rams host the Cowboys at the LA Memorial Coliseum, which promises to be a packed house and provide an electric atmosphere. LA seemed to be back to its high-scoring ways to wrap up the season, and that spells doom for the Cowboys. If the Rams rack up points, Dallas is going down, and that's a 60-40 likelihood according to AccuSore.
Similarly, the Saints and Eagles is an interesting proposition. It's Super Bowl favorite versus Super Bowl champion. The Eagles may be back to looking like a team to beat, but playing New Orleans in the same place where Drew Brees and company clobbered Philadelphia 48-7 and put the Eagles' season on life support is not a positive sign of a Philly win. The Saints aren't scared of the Eagles, and this is another 60-40 game in favor of the Saints in the computer's eyes.
The NFC Championship featuring the Rams and Saints promises a high-scoring affair, but these two teams met in New Orleans during the regular season, and the Saints outscored the Rams 35-17 in the first half. The final score looked like a respectable count of 45-35, but the game never felt that close.
Like the Chiefs, the Saints look like a clear favorite, and AccuScore's 10,000 simulations have New Orleans as a 60% favorite to advance to the Super Bowl over the Rams.
Super Bowl 2019
The Chiefs and Saints meeting on a neutral ground is fitting because these have been the two best teams this season, and that's been clear as day to see. For Mahomes, facing Brees after facing Brady should lead to even more exaggerated imagery of a torch being passed. Of course, the Super Bowl is a monster of chaos, distractions and pressure unlike any other football game, so Brees has an edge on the Chiefs' quarterback in that regard.
Still, AccuScore believes that the Chiefs are simply better, though a 56% to 44% difference implies that this will be a tough challenge for the Chiefs. Ultimately, though, the Chiefs should conquer the Saints on Super Bowl Sunday with Mahomes key to victory.
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