NFL 2019 playoffs: bold predictions for the AFC and NFC championship games, including fighting Tom Brady



After a divisional round that did not cause us any surprises, do not be surprised if there is some serious postseason drama this weekend and that's because the playoffs are for the four best teams in the NFL. Actually, it's not just the top four teams, but also the four teams with the highest score in the NFL season, which means it will not be surprising at all if we see some offensive fireworks on Sunday.

Patrick Mahomes and his 50 touchdown pbades will face the Patriots team that is playing in the AFC Championship Game for the eighth consecutive season in a showdown that he can broadcast on CBS All Access. In the NFC, the Rams will travel to New Orleans for the third time this season after going there in August (for a preseason loss) and November (for a regular season loss).

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Although the playoffs can be almost impossible to predict, let's try anyway by making eight bold predictions for the AFC and NFC Championship games.

This is how it will work: since there are two games scheduled for this weekend, we will make four bold predictions for each game. Remember, these are just bold predictions. If you are looking for Real selections of the game, feel free to click here.

With that in mind, let's bold predictions.

1. Drew Brees throws two interceptions.

When Drew Brees takes the field on Sunday, he will face a Rams secondary that will include Aqib Talib, which is remarkable because Talib did not play the first time these two teams met. Although Talib is not an interception machine, it does give the Rams an instant boost in high school, which defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will probably take advantage of. If the Rams' secondary plays better this time (they were destroyed for 346 yards at the first meeting) Brees will probably have some trouble finding open receivers.

Also, do not forget that Brees will face pressure from the player who led the NFL in sacks this year (Aaron Donald). With better secondary pressure and non-stop coming from Donald, it would not be surprising to see Brees commit several errors against the Rams. This is a bold prediction because Brees did not throw two interceptions in a single game all year. In fact, the last time Brees threw multiple interceptions in a game came last season, when he pitched two picks in the playoff loss of the Saints divisional round 29-24 against the Vikings.

2. Alvin Kamara accumulates more than 175 yards from the scrimmage

When these two teams met in Week 9, Kamara possibly had one of his most impressive games of the season. Not only did he do some damage on the ground (82 yards, two touchdowns), he also caught four pbades for 34 yards and a touchdown for a total of 116 yards and three touchdowns.

The reason why Kamara could explode on Sunday and have an even bigger game is because there is a good chance that the Rams are focusing much of their defensive attention on Michael Thomas, especially after seeing Thomas catch 12 pbades for 171. yards against the Eagles in the division. round. Thomas actually had an even bigger game against the Rams in Week 9 when he caught 12 pbades for 211 yards, so it's almost guaranteed that the Rams will take advantage of it, which could potentially open things up for other players in the Saints offense. . , like Kamara.

If Kamara can reach the 175-yard mark, he would become the second runner since the 2000 season to have so many kicks in an NFC championship. The only player who achieved that in this century was Marshawn Lynch, who scored 183 yards against the Packers in January 2015.

3. Rams kept less than 100 yards running.

On the surface, this prediction almost seems more crazy than audacious. The Rams not only finished the season as the NFL's third-best running team, but they are also coming out of a game against the Cowboys, where they accumulated the most yards in franchise history (273). Not to mention that the Saints will enter this game without defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins, who tore his Achilles against the Eagles.

The reason why I think the Saints can achieve this is because they had one of the best career defenses in the NFL in 2018, and they only delivered 80.2 yards per game, which ranked second. Yes, Rankins was a big part of that, but the reason why the Saints were so good at stopping the race is because all levels of their defense (linebackers, defensive backs) were good at that.

The Saints were also good to stop the race because their offense tends to shoot big tracks. When these two teams played in Week 9, the Rams only ran for 92 yards and that's because they basically gave up on the race after the Saints shot to a 35-14 lead.

Stopping the Rams on the ground is the easiest way to beat them and, as proof of that, all you have to do is look at their record. In games where they ran for 100 or more yards in 2018, the Rams went 12-0, including last week's victory over the Cowboys. In games where they did not reach 100 yards, they were only 2-3. Even with Rankins out, do not be surprised if Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen prepares a game plan that focuses on the race, which in turn would force Jared Goff to beat New Orleans.

4. Greg Zuerlein kicks the longest FG in the history of the NFC Championship

If Sean McVay has shown one thing during his coaching career, besides the fact that he is an offensive genius, he has no problem sending his kicker out for long field goal attempts. During the 2018 season, Zuerlein attempted six field goals of more than 50 yards, which was the second most in the NFL. He probably would have led the league, but he missed five games because of a groin injury. McVay also sent Zuerlein to a 63-yard attempt on the final play before halftime during the Rams' divisional victory over the Cowboys.

Basically, Zuerlein will probably try at least one long field goal on Sunday, and here's the madness, it does not have to be that long for him to break the record. The longest field goal in an NFC Championship Game is only 52 yards, which means that Zuerlein would only have to hit from 53 to get into the NFL record. (The AFC Championship record is 54 yards, while the all-time playoff record is 58 yards).

5. Tom Brady has more interceptions than touchdowns.

Tom Brady might have the most impressive postseason résumé of any quarterback in NFL history, but if there is a moment when he is not impressive in the playoffs, it is when he plays on the road. Although Brady has a record of 28-10 in his post-season career, he only has a 3-4 record on the road, and when the Patriots lose, it's usually because of him.

In his seven away games, Brady has thrown eight touchdowns. Y Eight interceptions. If you look at the most recent history, Brady has 0-3 in his last three playoff road games. It is likely that Bill Belichick is already aware of Brady's difficulties on the road, which means it would not be surprising to see the Patriots go with a game plan in Kansas City, which brings us to our next prediction.

6. Sony Michel runs for at least 150 yards

Although 150 yards may not seem like much, it has been 20 years since a runner reached that number in an AFC Championship Game. The last player to achieve that feat was Terrell Davis, who ran for 167 yards in a 23-10 victory over the Jets in January 1999.

So, why can Michel do it? This is a prediction of multiple layers. On the one hand, the Chiefs gave 5.0 yards per carry in 2018, which was the second worst number in the NFL, and we probably all agree that Belichick is very aware of that. If Belichick thinks the Patriots can run in the Chiefs, he will call 50 runs in a row. In addition, the easiest way to keep the offensive of the Chiefs off the field is to gather several units that consume the clock, and there is no better way to eat the clock than to give the ball to your workhorse.

The weather could also play a factor in this prediction. In cold weather games, the team that does most damage on the ground tends to win. Since 1990, teams have a 18-3 record in the playoffs when they rush to get rushing yards than their opponents in games where the starting temperature is less than 20 degrees. That's a winning percentage of .857 and a big reason why Belichick could try to set the tone on the ground ahead of time. It will not be surprising at all that Michel ends this game with 30 carries and 150 yards just a week after he had rolled the Chargers 129 yards and three touchdowns in the divisional round.

7. Sammy Watkins ends up as the Chiefs' main catcher.

If we have learned something about Bill Belichick during his coaching career, he is not going to let the other team's more dangerous weapons defeat him. In this game, that probably means the Patriots are going to do everything possible to neutralize Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Of course, Patrick Mahomes is an intelligent quarterback and if he sees that the Patriots are trying to get Hill and Kelce out of the game, he will respond by throwing the ball to another person and that other person will be Watkins.

Although Watkins only led the Chiefs in receiving once this year, he came in a huge place for Kansas City. Back in Week 8, Watkins caught eight pbades for 107 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-23 victory over the Broncos. Watkins also had a great game in the divisional round, with six receptions for 62 yards against the Colts. If the Patriots concentrate on Kelce and Hill, do not be surprised if Watkins explodes 125 yards or more.

8. None of the teams will score more than 30 points.

The last time we saw these two teams on the field in Week 6, they combined to get 83 points, which ended up making it the fourth game with the highest score of the 2018 NFL season. Although we saw many offensive fireworks in the Patriots' 43-40 victory, I do not expect the same in Kansas City.

Belichick has faced some of the best offenses in NFL history and when that happens, he generally tries to shorten the game, which means a lower score. In Super Bowl XXXVI, Belichick and the Patriots faced the Greatest Show at Turf Rams in a game in which the over / under was 52.5 points and the two teams did not come close to that in a game that the Patriots won 20- 17 .

Not to mention that, in his last five road playoff games, the low has gone 4-1, and there's no reason to think the trend will change this week. The Patriots offense had big problems in the road games this year, with an average of only 21.6 points, which was well below its local average of 32.9. It is difficult to see the Patriots illuminating the scoreboard, but it is also difficult to imagine them flying, which means that a closed match in which none of the teams above 30 seems to make more sense.


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