NFL Conference Championship Preview

Old vs. new is the order of the day

The NFL season is coming to a close, and with only three weeks to go, four teams remain. This Sunday features both games that will decide who goes to Super Bowl LIII.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots will head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs, and in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams. With the four highest caliber offenses still remaining, it is sure to be a weekend of big touchdowns and quick drives.

AFC Championship

Football fans should get ready for an exciting rematch during the AFC Championship. Earlier in the season, a red-hot Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs took on the legendary Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in Boston.

It was a battle to the end with 30 combined points in the final 10 minutes of play. However, Brady put together a drive in the closing minutes to get a game-winning field goal as time expired. The shootout ended with a 43-40 Patriot victory, but the young Mahomes wouldn’t be deterred.

As the season went on, Mahomes led his team to a 12-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. With Mahomes getting comparisons to quarterback legends such as Brett Favre and mentions as a possible MVP candidate, he obviously had a great season, but it is easy to overlook his fellow elite teammates.

Kansas City’s leading wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, had 1,479 receiving yards this season, good for fourth in the NFL. This total came paired with 12 receiving touchdowns and an average of 92 receiving yards a game.

Kansas City has also gotten a stellar season out of tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce had 1,336 receiving yards on the season, the second most by any tight end.

On the defensive side, the Chiefs led the NFL in sacks with 52, 15.5 of which came from defensive lineman Chris Jones.

Defense is where the Chiefs could have a leg up on the Patriots. The Patriots fall to the bottom of the rankings in almost every defensive category. However, what the Patriots lack in defense they make up with experience.

This will be New England’s eighth straight AFC Championship appearance. They’ve won four of the last seven. Two of their three losses were away games, and this year’s venue may play a big factor in this game.

Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, has become notorious for its loud crowd and chants. A huge cold wave is expected to hit Kansas City this weekend, calling for possibly one of the coldest games in modern NFL history.

Kickoff at Arrowhead is set for 5:40 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20.

NFC Championship

In the NFC, a similar story is set to unravel. Both the No. 1 seed, New Orleans Saints, and the No. 2 seed, Los Angeles Rams, have high-powered offenses.

The Rams are second in yards per game with 421.1. Quarterback Jared Goff is also fourth in the league for passing yards.

The Rams also house a strong running game with star running back Todd Gurley rushing for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. With their firm grasp of the NFC West, the Rams were able to rest Gurley for the final two regular season games.

With this chance to rest up before the postseason, Gurley came out fresh in the divisional round against the Cowboys. His temporary replacement, C. J. Anderson, was also able to prove his skill in the two games he played. This has given the Rams a deadly dual-threat running game.

Once again, however, this flashy young team will have to go up against the experience of Drew Brees. The all-time leading passer dominated teams this year and has been a Super Bowl contender in the past.

With both a great passing game from a legendary quarterback and a multi-threat running back in Alvin Kamara, the Saints will be tough to beat.

Add on the do-everything man in Taysom Hill, and who really knows what is coming?

The game’s location, the Superdome in New Orleans, is also famously tough to play in. The Saints beat the Rams at the Superdome in Week 9, and the rematch is going to be a must-see.

Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20.

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