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After which there have been 4. Following the divisional-weekend video games, the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints are all only one win away from reaching Tremendous Bowl LIII.
Let’s reset the sector, breaking down the upcoming Rams-Saints and Patriots-Chiefs convention championship video games with early projections from ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index (FPI).
Notice: Each video games will probably be Sunday, Jan. 20.
Three:05 p.m. ET | Fox | Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Early FPI projection: New Orleans, 62.1 p.c
Rams’ finest likelihood to win: Run the ball the best way they did Saturday night time in opposition to the Cowboys. Of their 45-35 loss to the Saints in Week 9, the Rams had simply 92 speeding yards on 19 carries. A part of the explanation was the Saints constructed a 35-14 second-quarter lead and the Rams had to throw to get again into the sport (which they did, by the best way, tying it at 35-35 within the fourth quarter). However that simply serves to underline the significance of creating the run early and getting some management of the sport. The Rams had a considerably extreme 273 speeding yards on 48 carries in Saturday’s playoff victory over the Cowboys. It’s in all probability an excessive amount of to anticipate a repeat of that, however protecting Drew Brees on the sideline by operating the ball and controlling the clock is the best way to go.
FPI probabilities to win the Tremendous Bowl
Saints’ finest likelihood to win: Maintain Aaron Donald and the Rams’ cross rush off Brees. Donald hit Brees 4 occasions within the first assembly, however nobody else on the Rams hit him even as soon as, and he was not sacked. (Neither quarterback was sacked within the sport, really.) Michael Thomas, the Saints’ prime broad receiver, had 211 yards and a landing on 12 catches in that sport (he had 12 catches in opposition to the Eagles on Sunday). And whereas Aqib Talib wasn’t enjoying in that sport and is now again from his damage, Brees ought to have the option to discover openings within the Rams’ secondary if the road can maintain him clear.
Stat to know: Counting the one he threw on his first cross Sunday, Brees has thrown solely six interceptions all season, however he is thrown one in 5 of his previous six video games. Solely two groups — Chicago and Miami — intercepted extra passes within the common season than the Rams.
Backside line: The convention championship video games are rematches of two of probably the most thrilling video games of the season, and the explanation this sport is in New Orleans and never Los Angeles is the Saints won the primary matchup in opposition to the Rams, as every workforce completed 13-Three. Every workforce scored greater than 500 factors. Rams coach Sean McVay is the red-hot younger offensive genius everybody’s making an attempt to copy, whereas Saints coach Sean Payton is the long-established offensive genius who’d simply love to remind everybody he is been at this for some time. The result will both be Brees’ second Tremendous Bowl look or Jared Goff’s first.
6:40 p.m. ET | CBS | Arrowhead Stadium
Early FPI projection: Kansas Metropolis, 66.2 p.c
Patriots’ finest likelihood to win: Run the ball and maintain Patrick Mahomes off the sector. As simple a time as Tom Brady had Sunday, a giant motive the Patriots had been so dominant was their Sony Michel-led run sport, which helped bleed off the primary quarter earlier than Philip Rivers even took the sector. New England had the fifth-most speeding yards and the fourth-most speeding touchdowns within the league this season. The Patriots averaged a time of possession of 32 minutes, 21 seconds of their wins and 28:17 of their losses. Towards Mahomes, who had 50 landing passes this season, and a Chiefs run sport that rolled up 180 yards in Saturday’s residence playoff victory over the Colts, it is important the Patriots management the ball, the clock and the sport with their offense.
Chiefs’ finest likelihood to win: Effectively, primarily based on Sunday, it is clearly not “load up on defensive backs, sit again in an insanely gentle zone and let Brady decide you aside as if he is enjoying on a football-toss machine at Dave & Buster’s.” That did not work too nicely for the Chargers. No, the Chiefs’ finest likelihood to win is to do what they did Saturday and play out of their minds on protection. Kansas Metropolis was in a position to strain Andrew Luck simply sufficient (particularly contemplating how onerous that was to do in 2018) whereas their corners coated in addition to they’ve all season. If Kansas Metropolis’s protection can crank it up at residence once more the best way it did within the divisional spherical, the Chiefs will make it quite a bit more durable on the Patriots than the Chargers did. However that is not saying a lot.
Stat to know: Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 1-Four all-time in convention championship video games — all within the NFC whereas he was teaching the Eagles, and none since 2008. Patriots coach Invoice Belichick, in the meantime, is Eight-Four all-time in convention championship video games (all with the Patriots). Belichick will probably be teaching in his eighth consecutive AFC Championship Sport and has won the previous two.
Backside line: The sport is at Kansas Metropolis, not Foxborough, Massachusetts, and that would make the distinction. Through the Brady/Belichick period, the Patriots are 20-Three in postseason residence video games, however simply Three-Four in playoff video games because the visiting workforce. They have not won a street playoff sport and the Tremendous Bowl in the identical season since 2004. The previous two occasions they performed an AFC Championship Sport on the street, they misplaced — in Denver three and 5 years in the past. This season, the Patriots are 9-Zero at residence and Three-5 on the street, together with double-digit losses at Jacksonville, Detroit and Tennessee. The Chiefs are Eight-1 at residence. After they confronted the Patriots in Week 6, it was in Foxborough, and New England beat them 43-40 on a last-second subject purpose in a sport that featured 30 mixed fourth-quarter factors. This needs to be a traditional rematch, and the truth that it is within the Chiefs’ constructing would appear to give them an opportunity to slay the league’s most fearsome January dragon.