A look at this Sunday's big games.
When the NFL season started, it was hard to predict who would make it this far and be one of the four remaining teams that still have a shot at the Super Bowl. Of course, the Patriots are usually a safe bet, but it’s hard to believe many people had Kansas City, the L.A Rams, and the Saints competing for a Lombardi trophy.
Each game will see a younger quarterback go up against a Super Bowl winner, while all four teams have some of the best offenses in the league. Both matchups pit a first seed against a second seed. There are no underdogs anymore. These are the four best teams the NFL had to offer this season.
With such an important weekend upon us, it would probably be a good idea to take a look at each matchup and see how these teams stack up against each other.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints, on Fox at 3:05 p.m. EST
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The first matchup of the weekend will be a battle of the offenses. Drew Brees and the Saints will be looking to head back to their second Super Bowl since 2010, while Jared Goff and the Rams are trying to prove themselves as an up and coming powerhouse in the league.
Earlier in the season on November 4th, the Saints defeated the Rams by a score of 45-35. With a total of 80 combined points, the game lived up to the hype when it comes to just how dominant both these teams are on offense. Goff had 391 yards in that game and threw three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Brees had four touchdowns and threw for 346 yards. It was a back and forth game for the ages and football fans have rightfully been salivating over the possibility of a rematch.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams have a slight advantage despite being outscored by the Saints back in November. The Rams scored 32.9 points per game which ranks them second in the league in scoring. They were also second in total yards per game, third in rushing yards, and fifth in passing yards. The team’s running game was led by Todd Gurley who had 1042 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
The Saints are no slouch, ranking third in points per game with 31.5. While the team puts up a ton of points, they do it in fewer yards. At 379.2 yards per game, they ranked eighth in the league, while putting up the sixth best rushing offense and 12th best passing offense. Running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were a dynamic duo for the Saints this season and were a huge reason for their offensive success. They combined for 20 touchdowns and over 1400 rushing yards. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
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Defensively is where both teams start to fall apart. The Rams gave up 24 points a game in the regular season, while also forfeiting 358.6 yards per game. Those totals were good enough for 20th and 19th in the league respectively. If the Saints really want to expose the Rams, it will have to be with the run, as the Rams have the 23rd ranked rush defense in the league, giving up an average of 122.3 yards. Their passing defense was average, ranking 14th in the NFL. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
As for the Saints defense, the Rams will have to go through the air to really expose them. New Orleans has the fourth-worst passing defense in the league, giving up 268.9 yards per game. The Saints killed the league on rush defense though, only giving up 80 yards a game which made them the second-best team in the NFL in that category. In terms of points allowed, the Saints were ranked 14th, giving up roughly 22 points per game. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
This game will most likely come down to the experience gap between these two squads. Brees and Saints head coach Sean Payton won a Super Bowl together back in 2010 and have the Championship pedigree required to make it back to the big game. Although, it will be interesting to see how Goff responds to the pressure of being a young quarterback in the biggest game of his life.
New England at Kansas City, on CBS at 6:40 p.m. EST
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Now no disrespect to the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints but let’s be honest...This is the game everybody has been waiting for. How could you not be excited? New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is considered by many as the best quarterback of all time. Meanwhile, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes racked up 50 touchdowns in his first full season in the league and is one of the most exciting players in the entire NFL.
Not only are both of these quarterbacks highlight reel machines, but they also produced one of the most exciting games of the year. Back on October 14th in a game in New England, both teams combined for 83 points, with the Patriots winning 43-40 on a last-second field goal. Despite losing, the game cemented Mahomes as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. He finished the game with four touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 352 passing yards to boot. Brady came alive in the game as well, notching a touchdown and 340 yards.
Having just talked about these two teams and their offensive showdown from October, it’s no surprise that they both have some of the best offenses in the entire league. Starting with the Chiefs, they averaged 35.3 points per game which was the best in the league by three points. They also had the third-best passing offense and 16th best running game. They also averaged the most yards per game in the league, with 425.6. With numbers like these, it is absolutely no surprise that the Chiefs tore up the league this year. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
The Patriots are no slouch themselves, scoring 27.2 points per game which was the fourth-best average in the league. Both the team’s running game and passing game were consistent, finishing fifth and eighth in the league respectively. Averaging 393.4 yards per game, the Patriots had the fifth best total offense in the entire league. Numbers aside though, Tom Brady has plenty of experience when it comes to playing AFC Championship games, so he’ll be more than ready to go toe-to-toe with Mahomes if the game becomes a shootout. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
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Defensively, the Kansas City Chiefs might be in trouble. They have the 31st ranked pass defense and the 27th ranked rush defense which will have Brady and his running backs James White and Sony Michel salivating. The Chiefs also gave up 26.3 points per game which ranked 24th in the league. With all these numbers considered, Kansas City will have their work cut out for them on Sunday. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
While the Patriots don’t have a perfect defense, they are definitely better than Kansas City’s. They gave up the seventh most points per game with 20.3 while registering the 22nd and 11th best pass and rush defenses. While their defense is better than the Chief’s, they were still lit up by Mahomes and company just a few months ago so they’ll have to be careful come Sunday. All stats courtesy of nfl.com.
Just like the game between the Rams and the Saints, this game will most likely come down to experience and knowing how to win in high-pressure situations. Brady has been to eight Super Bowl games and has won five championships. Meanwhile, Mahomes played his first playoff last weekend against the Indianapolis Colts.
Regardless, it is sure to be a fun game to watch, especially with Accuweather reporting some awfully cold weather come Sunday.
Who do you think is going to win this weekend and make it to the Super Bowl on February 3rd in Atlanta?