Four teams are left to play three more games before the 2018 NFL season crowns a final champion. The Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints make for an entertaining and fiercely competitive final four.
These are the four highest-scoring teams during the regular season, and both games are rematches of contests where the final score reached at least 80 combined points.
- New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (-3): Andy Reid vs. Bill Belichick. Sure, the players matter a whole heck of a lot. But for me, this game is framed by the tactical matchup between two of the most consistently successful coaches of the 21st century.
Belichick has won multiple Super Bowls and an uncanny knack for pulling out big wins. Reid has tasted the Super Bowl once, but his lack of success deep in the playoffs is a damning mark on his historical legacy.
This time, Reid’s team should win. We should expect them to win. It’s a home game in front of the loudest fans in the NFL, and a familiar surface for what appears to be inclement weather. His offense has more firepower and the presumptive MVP at the controls. His defensive front has played better as the season progressed, and in turn it’s helped the coverage on the back end. They’ll even get the emotional lift of Eric Berry returning to the lineup, adding the emotional leader and top tackler to the defense.
But, but...Belichick and Brady. Yeah, I know. The way New England embarrassed a really good Chargers team last week serves notice they are not to be taken lightly. As if anyone ever would.
The pick here is not against the Patriots. It’s a reflection of my belief in this Chiefs team and their ability to break through at home.
Chiefs 29, Patriots 26
- Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-3): The Rams really impressed with their return to offensive proficiency in blasting the strong Cowboys defense last weekend. Getting two 100-yard rushers in the same game is a crazy feat in a playoff game, especially in the context of going against one of the NFL’s most consistently stout defensive units.
That gives the Rams some real hope to pull off the win in New Orleans. I do think the revitalized Todd Gurley we saw last week can find success against the Saints underrated defensive front, and Jared Goff will be able to take some shots thanks in part to a very impressive offensive line that does not get enough credit outside of LA.
The key matchup for me is how well Rams CB Marcus Peters fares against Michael Thomas. In the first meeting, the Saints standout hung 146 yards on 7 receptions on Peters in coverage on his way to 211 yards overall. Peters is better than that...most of the time. The thing is, Thomas can do that again. Between Thomas and Alvin Kamara, I think the Rams relative weakness at safety is a pressure point they simply cannot cover enough to handle the Saints. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh can help that a lot, however.
Saints 31, Rams 27