NFL championships open thread

Ed: And so we come down to the final three games left in the 2018 NFL season. Jazz and I both managed to go 2-0 on Sunday, leaving me with a one-game lead at 6-2.  We both had to hold our breath through the Saints-Eagles game. That turned into a tough defensive match that sent the Cinderella team packing for home. The Patriots did what the Patriots usually do in the playoffs, of course, especially at home, although the Chargers never quit on the game. Today we get to watch two rematches between the leagues top four teams, and it should be a magnificent afternoon.

Jazz: Yes, last Sunday’s games were sadly predictable. The “sadly” part came mostly by way of the Patriots. I picked them in our pool because the odds were too overwhelming in their favor. But since Ed took them also I didn’t feel bad about rooting for the Chargers. I’d rather have a worse playoff record and see the Patriots go home, but it wasn’t meant to be. Either way, I went 2-0, bringing me to a 5-3 playoff total thus far, one behind Ed. I’ll need to scrape up one extra win today if I hope to go into the Superbowl with a clean slate.

Ed: The NFC opens up the day with their championship game in New Orleans (3:05 pm ET, Fox), as the Saints face the Rams. The Saints came out sluggish at home last week, but their defense came to the rescue against Nick Foles and the Eagles. They won’t be as fortunate against the high-powered Los Angeles offense, but the same can be said for the Rams, who nearly let the Cowboys back in the game last week in the second half, getting outscored 15-10. Dallas had the 22nd-ranked offense in 2018; the Saints were ranked eighth. After surviving the Eagles, the Saints will be revved up at home, plus they have more playoff experience than the Rams, especially at the QB position. Saints over Rams, 31-24.

Jazz: The Rams make me nervous any time I think of picking against them. I wasn’t that impressed at the beginning of the season, but they’ve really turned on the heat. Still, after an also dubious few moments early on, the Saints have been looking like the Super Bowl winners in waiting for quite a while now. I don’t think Los Angeles will go down easy, but particularly playing at home and not having to travel across the country, New Orleans will pull it out. I’ll take the Saints over the Rams in a high scoring battle 34-30.

Ed: The AFC championship (6:40 pm ET, CBS) is a rematch of one of the most exciting games of the year, except it will take place in Kansas City rather than Foxboro. The Patriots go on the road for their eighth straight AFC championship to meet the Chiefs, who barely lost to the Pats in Foxboro in week 6. Brady and Belichik have plenty of playoff experience and smarts, but they also have a less-than-stellar record on the road in championships (2-4), and a less-than-stellar road record this season (3-5). Brady is the GOAT and the Pats over the last 17 years can argue for the status of the greatest NFL dynasty ever, but KC is built to play against New England in this season. Home-field advantage and the confidence from that near-win in Week 6 will make the difference this time. Chiefs 33-28 over the Patriots.

Jazz:  All season long I’ve been waiting for the day when I can pick the Patriots to lose and go home for the year. Today is not that day, my friends. Even on the road, they have what it takes to pull out one more win against the formerly unbeatable Chiefs. The Patriots will lose, but it will be to the Saints. I’m taking New England over Kansas City 27-21.