More unreliable predictions for the NFL conference championship games
The Seahawks aren’t on the field today, but you know you’ll be watching the conference championship games. Most likely to root against a couple of teams.
The Seahawks aren’t in the NFC Conference Championship game, but things are definitely looking up for them. We’ll have more to say about that over these next few months, including free agency, but for now there’s still football to be played. And we all want to know who will win. I’ll follow Lee Vowell’s actually intelligent and incisive predictions with my own.
Let’s hit the AFC title game first. The Seahawks are familiar with both teams, more recently with their resounding victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are remarkably gifted on offense, which is driven by the incredible talent of Patrick Mahomes. With him running the show, the Chiefs ranked first in both yardage and points scored. They were fifth and sixth last year with a pretty good quarterback at the controls in Alex Smith. But Mahomes took them to an entirely different level, as they never scored less than 26 points.
The Achilles heel for the Chiefs has been their defense. The Seahawks shredded them for 38 points, one of seven games Kansas City allowed 28 or more points. They played much better in their first-round win over the Colts, though, holding them to just 13 points. They got after Andrew Luck with three sacks and five quarterback hits.
More from 12th Man Rising
- 4 prospects Seahawks could reach for at No. 20 in 2023 NFL Draft
- Seattle Seahawks Mock Draft: Post-first wave of free agency
- Seahawks podcast: A review of the first week of free agency
- 4 experiments the Seattle Seahawks could cut short in 2023
- 3 pros and cons of Seattle Seahawks drafting Anthony Richardson
The question is if they can do that against Tom Brady. In their first meeting this year, the Chiefs hung 40 on the Patriots. Unfortunately for them, New England answered with 43 of their own. The Pats ran all over the Chiefs, literally, as they picked up 173 yards on the ground. New England dominated the game with 31 first downs, and won the time of possession battle 36 minutes to just 24 for Kansas City.
And they still nearly lost the game to Mahomes. This time, the Chiefs will pull out the win with some crazy magic from the kid. No doubt he’ll throw a 57 yard bomb, all in the air, sidearm while looking at the other side of the field. Kansas City 38, New England 33.
NFC Conference Championship predictions
On to the NFC conference championship, the one we really care about. Because we want to see the Rams fall, to be decimated, to be driven before the Saints and hear the lamentations of their – okay, that’s a bit much. Still, I’d rather see Los Angeles lose. There’s just one problem with that – they won’t.
The Saints were absolutely on fire for the first 11 games of the season. They scored over 40 points in six of those games, and scored less than 30 just twice. As Lee pointed out in his prediction piece, the 13-10 loss to the Cowboys changed things. The offense that routinely rolled up 400, even 500 yards only managed 300 yards in two of their last four games. Granted they rested their starters in the last game, but they put zero points on the board until the fourth quarter.
More disturbing, Drew Brees only threw for over 200 yards in one of his last five games. There is reason for hope, as he threw for over 300 yards in his last regular season game, and 283 in the Saints playoff win over the defending champion Eagles. Unfortunately for New Orleans fans, there is also reason for despair, as he’ll be facing the Rams defense.
That same defense basically took the entire year off. Los Angeles ranked 20th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed. So why should Saints fans worry? They finally decided to show up in their playoff game against the Cowboys and held Ezekiel Elliott to just 47 yards. On the flip side, they did allow Dak Prescott to throw for 266 yards. Prescott is a good quarterback, and a very mobile quarterback, but he’s no Drew Brees. I know I’m arguing against the point I just made, but it’s my column.
New Orleans jumped out to a big lead in their first meeting, which forced Los Angeles to play catch up and took Todd Gurley out of the game. Gurley had just 13 carries in that contest, but I don’t think we’ll see that today. Brees hasn’t been razor sharp, and I expect the Rams to use the same punishing ground game they featured in their win over the Cowboys. The Saints are great against the run, second in the league, but the Cowboys ranked fifth themselves. I think the Rams take the NFC conference championship with that ground game. Los Angeles 38, New Orleans 24.