So, I got three out of four last week, but my predictor got all four correct, which means we’re both on 6-2 with three games left in the playoffs. What’s going to happen this week?
(Please forgive the shorter post. I may have miscalculated the kickoff times this week!)
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints
The Saints are the top-ranked team in my Power Rankings. The main difference between the two sides is the defense, and that’s where I see this game won.
Many will focus on the Rams’ ability to stop the run. I’m not so sure that will help. I expect the Saints to use motion and quick underneath passes to bypass the rush of Suh and Donald, getting the ball out quickly. If they can give Brees some pretection, the Rams will also really struggle to hold Michael Thomas quiet.
On the other side of the ball, expect the Saints to put everything into stopping Todd Gurley and the run, and allow Goff to throw the ball to his heart’s content. His passer rating last week was 75. Whilst he looked after the football, that’s not a recipe for winning if you can’t run the ball.
If he can throw the ball well, the Rams may well win, but I have faith in the Saints’ defense to stop him.
The predictor picks: Los Angeles.
Rams confidence level: 50%.
Saints confidence level: No data. But 0% when predicted to lose this season.
My pick: New Orleans.
New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs
New England have the worst record of any team left. Make no mistake, they are the underdogs here. Again, I see this being a story of defense, or rather, the lack of it. Whilst the Chiefs will have their work cut out to cover Gronkowski, Edelman and the running game, the Patriots have it much worse.
Do you stop the run? Do you double team Travis Kelce? What about Tyreek Hill? Oh, did you also see Sammy Watkins is back from injury? Even if you cover all those players, Mahomes can run straight through you himself.
In short, the Chiefs just have too much talent to lose this game. It doesn’t mean they won’t (Andy Reid has proved that before), but Bill Belichick is the only reason people believe the Patriots can win this game.
Even worse news for the Patriots: the Chiefs discovered a half-decent defense last week too.
The Patriots may have a defense ranked 17 places higher than the Chiefs, but the Chiefs are #1 for points scored and #1 for points differential. It will show here.
The predictor picks: Kansas City.
Patriots confidence level: 0%.
Chiefs confidence level: 100% (so something’s got to break!)
My pick: Kansas City.