We are now officially just two potential wins away from the ultimate nightmare scenario for Falcons fans: A Saints-Patriots Super Bowl. I mean, I’m not even sure what would be worse here for Falcons fans: Having the biggest blown lead in Super Bowl history rubbed in your face all week by Patriots fans or just having Saints fans in your city period.
Judging by Twitter — and I judge everything by Twitter — it seems that people in Atlanta are already getting kind of antsy about the idea of Patriots and Saints fans taking over their city for a week.
You know what won’t make you throw up or cry? This week’s picks (At least I don’t think they will make you do either of those things, although you might cry when you find out that you have to wait two weeks for my Super Bowl pick).
Before we get to the picks this week, here’s your semi-regular reminder to check out the picks from all our other CBS Sports NFL writers, which you can do by clicking here. If you do click over, you’ll notice that Jared Dubin and Jamey Eisenberg both went 4-0 with their picks over the weekend.
If you’re not impressed with their picks and would rather hear four guys irrationally discuss the divisional round, you can do that by clicking here and subscribing to the Pick Six Podcast. I team up with Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough every week for an NFL recap show that you can download each and every Monday morning until the end of the season. This week we recapped the weekend’s four playoff games and then spent some time talking about why you should never . Unfortunately, I learned that lesson the hard way.
Alright, let’s get to this week’s picks, because the faster we get to them, the faster I can make two fan bases hate me for picking against their team.
No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (14-3) at No. 1 New Orleans (14-3)
TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Line: Saints, -3.5 points
Stream the NFC Championship on fuboTV, try it for free
Who wins Rams vs. Saints? And which side of the spread cashes well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Saints vs. Rams spread you need to jump on Sunday, all from the computer model that has returned nearly $4,000 to $100 bettors over the past two seasons.
Besides the day Sean Connery was born, there’s a good chance that Sunday could go down as the best day ever for people named Sean. It’s Rams coach Sean McVay against Saints coach Sean Payton and I think we should all agree that only the winner gets to officially be called an offensive genius.
The last time we saw the Saints on the field, they played like they had just gone through a 12-hour bender on Bourbon Street. They fell behind 14-0 against the Eagles, which was kind of ironic, because I’m pretty sure Saints fans would have gone on their own 12-hour bender if New Orleans had lost that game. They probably also would have gone on a bender if the Saints had won. I think they just like benders there.
See what I mean.
Of course, the advantage of having fans who like to get crazy is that it makes the Superdome one of the best home-field advantages in football. As a matter of fact, it’s been such a good advantage for Drew Brees and Sean Payton that they’ve never lost a home playoff game (6-0) since arriving in New Orleans together in 2006.
Although the Saints have struggled on offense over the past few weeks, including the first quarter of the Eagles game, it’s kind of felt like they were mostly just shaking off the rust. I mean, before playing the Eagles, the starters in New Orleans really hadn’t played a competitive snap in three weeks. I once went three weeks without exercising and I had trouble walking on a treadmill for eight seconds, so I can only imagine what it would be like for an NFL offense to basically be shut down for three weeks.
If you still haven’t marked your calendar for the Super Bowl, the game will be kicking off from Atlanta on Feb. 3 and will be televised by CBS and you can stream it right here. If you’re thinking about buying a new TV for the big game, CNET has you covered. They shared their best picks for every budget.
When I look at both teams, the one player who I think is going to make or break this game is Jared Goff. Every time I watch Goff, I become more and more convinced that he was the end result of some weird experiment that combined the quarterbacking DNA of both Tom Brady and Blake Bortles. At times, Goff looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the league, like when he threw for 465 yards and five touchdowns in a Week 4 win against the Vikings.
And then there’s other times where Goff goes full-Bortles, like when he threw four interceptions in a loss to the Bears back in Week 14. In five of the Rams’ past six games, Goff has looked below average, but most people haven’t noticed because Sean McVay has been masking Goff’s struggles by calling as many run plays as possible. The Rams are 2-3 this season when they don’t hit the 100-rushing-yards mark, and that’s mostly because, if they’re not hitting the 100-rushing-yards mark, that means the game is in Goff’s hands, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The bad news for the Rams is that they might have to put this game in Goff’s hands because C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley will be going up against a Saints defense that ranked second against the run in 2018.
I fully expect the Superdome to be completely crazy and I’m not sure Goff is going to be able to handle it. Home teams have won five NFC Championship games in a row and top seeds in both the AFC and NFC have advanced to the Super Bowl nine out of 10 times since 2013, which makes me feel like I should take the Saints here.
The pick: Saints 34-27 over Rams
Record picking Rams games this season: 13-4 (includes 0-1 in playoffs)
Record picking Saints games this season: 11-6 (includes 1-0 in playoffs)
Prediction from first Rams-Saints game in Week 9: Saints 37-34 over Rams
Actual score from first Rams-Saints game in Week 9: Saints 45-35 over Rams
No. 2 New England (12-5) at No. 1 Kansas City (13-4)
TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS
Line: Chiefs, -3 points
Stream the AFC Championship game on CBS All Access.
Who wins Patriots vs. Chiefs? And which side of the spread cashes in nearly 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Chiefs vs. Patriots spread you need to jump on Sunday, all from the computer model that has returned nearly $4,000 to $100 bettors over the past two seasons.
I don’t know if you’ve seen thethis weekend, but I have, and let me just say that it would probably be warmer if they just moved this game to the North Pole.
I don’t remember the entire plot of the movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” but I’m pretty sure that exact weather map was used at some point and I’m also pretty sure that the Arctic Blast in the movie caused 50 percent of the world’s population to freeze to death, which I really hope doesn’t happen in Kansas City on Sunday because the game’s on CBS and I’m not so sure that would make for good television.
However, you know what does make for good television? Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line in what I think is the first game ever where one quarterback is as old as the other quarterback’s mom.
That’s definitely some interesting advice, Mrs. Mahomes, “Whatever he’s doing, you need to do.”
I know moms usually give good advice, but DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PATRICK because it means you’ll be stuck eating tofu, quinoa and beluga lentil tacos for every meal for the rest of your life, because that’s all Brady eats. I’m still not sure how he survives.
The bad news for the Chiefs is that there’s actually something else Brady might eat up on Sunday and that’s their defense. The last time these two teams met back in Week 6, the Patriots put up 500 yards of offense, which ended up being their highest total for the entire season. Basically, the Chiefs defense is bad at a lot of things and the Patriots are good at everything the Chiefs are bad at. For instance, the Chiefs ranked 31st overall against the pass in 2018, they gave up the fifth-most receiving yards to running backs and they gave up 5.0 yards per carry, which was the second-worst number in the NFL. I know the Chiefs defense looked good against the Colts, but that kind of performance happening two weeks in a row is basically the same chances of me winning the Powerball two weeks in a row: It’s not going to happen. Of course, if I do somehow end up winning two weeks in a row, I promise to buy everyone some beluga lentil tacos.
Now, just because the Patriots offense will likely roll in this game doesn’t mean New England is going to win. If there’s one coach who seems to be one step ahead of Bill Belichick, it’s Andy Reid. Since 2013, the Patriots have surrendered 40 or more points in a game just four times, and guess who’s responsible for three of those: The Chiefs (The Eagles had the other one in Super Bowl LII).
Although Belichick has designed some of the most brilliant defensive game plans in NFL history, he somehow hasn’t been able to figure out Reid over the past few years. The upside for Belichick is that the weather should actually help him slow the Chiefs down. It’s not easy to throw the ball when it’s -3 degrees out, which is probably why no team in NFL history has ever cracked the 30-point mark in a game that kicks off in a temperature below zero degrees, according to Pro Football Reference.
I’m not sure who technically has the advantage in arctic conditions, but I do know that the Patriots are just 3-4 in road playoff games with Brady and have lost their last three AFC Championships played on the road. I also know that teams that play on Saturday in the divisional round are 14-4 on Championship Sunday since the 2009 season. Oh, and the home team in the AFC title game has won 11 of the past 12. I think what I’m trying to say here is that I’m picking against the Patriots.
It’s going to be so cold on Sunday that Brady should bring a torch to the game to keep warm, and also so he can pass it to Mahomes after the Chiefs win. No proverbial passing of the torch here, I want the real thing.
The pick: Chiefs 30-27 over Patriots
Record picking Patriots games this season: 11-6 (includes 1-0 in playoffs)
Record picking Chiefs games this season: 13-4 (includes 0-1 in playoffs)
Prediction from first Chiefs-Patriots game in Week 6: New England 41-38 over Kansas City
Actual score from first Chiefs-Patriots game in Week 6: New England 43-40 over Kansas City
Best pick: Last week, I Aqib Talib. Am I doing this because I feel guilty about picking against his team this week? Kind of, but I’m also doing this because back in early November, Talib correctly predicted all four teams that would be playing in the championship round this weekend.the Chargers, but no one cares about that because that game was a blowout, so instead, I’m dedicating the “Best pick” section this week to
Not only did Talib nail those picks, but he also managed to make it through the entire video without dropping an F-bomb, which was somewhat surprising, because if you watched the Rams game Saturday, you may have noticed that he has a tendency to use F-bombs when he has a microphone in front of him.
Worst pick: If I learned one thing last week, it’s that the only thing more inaccurate than my playoff picks are meteorologists in Kansas City. That’s right, meteorologists, I’m throwing you under the bus. Last week I picked the Colts to beat the Chiefs and I would just like everyone to know that If I had known it was going to snow, I wouldn’t have picked an indoor team to win. As a matter of fact, I would have picked the Colts to lose by 30. However, I was unaware of the snow, because when I had to turn my pick in on Jan. 7 — a full five days before the game was being played — this was the forecast.
That says 46 and sunny. I don’t think it was 46 and sunny anywhere within 500 miles of Kansas City.
I think Adam Vinatieri also was assuming it would be 46 and sunny, because that’s the only way to explain his meltdown in Kansas City. If there was one guy who I thought would thrive in the snow, it was the guy who looks like Santa Claus.
Unfortunately, as we found out on Saturday, Santa Claus doesn’t deliver in January.
Alright, time to call it quits for a week. Unless I decide to do a Pro Bowl pick — and I probably won’t — I’ll be on a one-week hiatus, which means you should circle Jan. 29 on your calendar, because that’s when my Super Bowl LIII pick will be rolling out. If you can’t wait that long, then I suggest following me on Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram. If you do follow, you’ll most likely notice that I’ll be providing multiple updates from fun locations over the next two weeks, including the French Quarter this weekend and Atlanta for the Super Bowl.
Straight up in wild-card round: 2-2
SU overall in playoffs: 3-5
Against the spread in wild-card round: 2-2
ATS overall in playoffs: 4-4
Final 2018 regular-season record
Straight-up: 166-88-2 (Ranked 22nd overall on Pickwatch)
Against the spread: 123-126-7
Exact score predictions: 2
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter or even Instagram and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably trying to get certified by the American Meteorological Society so he can give out his own forecasts.