Well, divisional weekend has come and gone. We are now rapidly approaching championship weekend, but before we can cover that, here are some takeaways from this past weekend.
Game 1: Colts @ Chiefs: Final 31-13
Takeaway: The Chiefs defense occasionally shows up.
The Chiefs this season was one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to defense. Kansas City was 31st in the NFL, allowing 405 total yards per game. But on Saturday, the defense stepped up big time. They allowed only 266 yards, forced a fumble and sacked Andrew Luck 4 times. It was a complete game for the Chiefs and they will need to be consistent on defense if they want to have a serious shot at the Super Bowl.
Game 2: Cowboys @ Rams: Final 30-22
Takeaway: The Cowboys might actually be the best team in the NFC East and there is a new running back duo in the NFL
While the Cowboys lost the game, they played some of the best football they’ve played all year. Dak Prescott looked like a halfway decent QB. Amari Cooper is proving he is a competent #1 receiver and Michael Gallup is emerging as a solid second option for Prescott. Defensively, the Cowboys have the best defense in the NFC East, led by Leighton Vander Esch, who is looking to become a perennial pro bowler. The Rams have also become that much more dangerous with the addition of CJ Anderson, who is appearing to have a career resurgence as he had 123 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries. Anderson along with Gurley in the backfield make it that much dangerous to play the Rams on Sunday.
Game 3: Chargers @ Patriots: Final 41-28
Takeaway: The Patriots are still the Patriots and you can NOT beat them.
You actually cannot beat the GOAT. While Tom Brady may not have made a huge impact with his 341 yards and 1 touchdown, rookie running back Sony Michel had it covered. The rookie running back from Georgia finished the game with 129 yards on 24 carries and 3 touchdowns. James White also tied the NFL postseason record with 15 receptions. While the game was as lopsided as it was, Philip Rivers had himself a day too. Rivers was good for 25/51, 331 yards, 3 touchdowns and a pick. Rivers is still chasing that ever elusive Lombardi trophy before he decides to hang up the cleats.
Game 4: Eagles @ Saints: Final 20-14
Takeaway: You really can’t count out the Saints, no matter how large your lead is.
The Eagles had the Saints dead in the water with a 14-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. Then Drew Brees did what Drew Brees does best: comeback and win. It all started with a 4th and 1 fake punt conversion by jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill. That proved to be the kick in the behind New Orleans needed because the Saints scored 20 unanswered points after that. Drew Brees threw for 301 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception that he threw on the first play from scrimmage. The two-headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 124 rushing yards, but the real story in this game was Michael Thomas. Thomas had 12 receptions, 171 yards and 1 touchdown. It seemed he had glue on his hands because he was catching everything coming his way. Brees will look to continue to get the ball to Thomas this Sunday.
Championship Weekend Preview
Game 1: Rams @ Saints: 3:05 ET
The Saints won the regular season meeting between these two teams and the Rams will be looking for revenge. Look for the Saints to feed Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram for Drew Brees to get the ball into Michael Thomas’s hands. For Los Angeles, they will continue to ride the hot hand of CJ Anderson as well as feeding the workhorse that is Todd Gurley. Jared Goff needs to put his trust in Brandin Cooks and take more deep shots downfield as the Saints secondary isn’t exactly the best in the NFL. This game will be an offensive explosion. Look for there to be at least 65-70 combined points on the scoreboard.
Prediction: Saints over Rams 35-33
Game 2: Patriots @ Chiefs: 6:40 ET
The Chiefs are the best offensive team left in the playoffs, there’s no doubt in my mind. The Patriots defense will have their hands full trying to stop MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes, speed demon Tyreek Hill, and red zone threat Travis Kelce. Damien Williams has also been doing his part on offense since the release of Kareem Hunt. But Tom Brady is the best QB in the playoffs in NFL history. He will not go down without a fight. He will look to his receivers and Sony Michel to help try and take down the juggernaut that is Kansas City. KC’s defense will need to step up again in a big way this week in order to have any chance in this game.
Prediction: Chiefs over Patriots 38-21
Check back next week when I will review championship weekend give my Super Bowl preview and prediction.
– Marcus Jacobs