KANSAS CITY -3 vs New England
Tom Brady ain’t as good as he once was.
Bill Belichick ain’t as good as he once was.
But really ….. how hard was it to improve on these?
These guys haven’t been an underdog since 2015. They won that game outright. You might point out that they haven’t won a playoff game on the road since 2007. You would be right, but their record since then is …. 0-2. That’s right. They’ve had two road playoff games in the last 12 years. Both times they lost to the Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Which brings us to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes:
One of these things is not like the other, right? Brady, Belichick and Reid are OG. They learned how to win over a long period of looking like “Before” pictures on a self-help infomercial.
This is going to matter on Sunday night in not-as-cold-as-you-think Kansas City. Mahomes is magic but he hasn’t paid his dues in the league. Sorry Patrick, you’ve gotta wait your turn.
The Chiefs only chance was for the weather to make Brady want to run for a blanket to put over his legs and a warm mug of cocoa on the bench. You know, like Jared Goff. But it’s looking like mid-30s and not windy in KC. Better weather than in Foxboro this time of year.
The Chargers’ defense is way way better than the Chiefs’, and the Patriots made them look silly last week. The Chiefs need to outscore the Pats to win, and unfortunately that means stopping them every once in a while. The Pats uncharacteristically took the ball after winning the coin toss, and they rolled down the field for a score. Expect them to do the same if they win it again.
We’ve been making fun of Brady’s battle versus Father Time for two years now. One day we’ll be right. In the meantime, do you want to be the one that gave points to the greatest dynasty in league history against a rookie QB and a coach with a 12-13 career playoff record with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line?
Brady needs to win to get to his 9th Super Bowl. He’s trying to keep pace with Phillip Rivers kid count. Time is running out, but we’re counting on Brady/Belichick to be as good once as they ever was. (Thanks, Toby Keith)
NEW ORLEANS -3.5 vs. LA Rams
Bill Vinovich is the head referee for the NFC Championship in New Orleans. Really, the lead official shouldn’t be a storyline, but it is for this game. Vinovich has been the head referee in 8 Los Angeles Rams games. The Rams record in those games - 0 and 8! This record includes two games this year - Week 9 in New Orleans when the Rams came in 8-0 and left with a 45-35 loss and Week 15 a 30-23 loss to the Eagles. So not only are the Rams 0-8 when Vinovich is the head referee - he was the referee when these two teams met earlier in the season. No one at the NFL offices noticed that?
The Vinovich selection has caused so much consternation among Rams fans that one fan started a petition to remove Vinovich from the game. At the time of this writing, 6,812 fans have signed the petition including yours truly. Click the link below to view and sign.
Some key points in the case against Vinovich.
1) The Rams are are 0-8 with Vinovitch as their head referee despite being 55-48-1 without him since 2012.
2) Vinovitch has never assessed the Rams' opponent more penalty yardage. That includes the games that McVay coached.
3) On average, the Rams nearly double the penalty yardage assessed when compared to their opponents in the games Vinovitch has reffed since 2012.
4) Vinovitch is the only ref to have ejected Aaron Donald.
5) Vinovitch is the only ref to have ejected Chris Long (I know he’s not playing in the game but still!)
But the most significant point against Vinovich was a very controversial call in the Week 9 game vs. New Orleans. The highlight of that game’s officiating was a missed call when the Rams faked a field goal tied 14-14 and Johnny Hekker clearly reached the ball over the first down marker before going down or being out of bounds. It was obvious to everyone watching the game, that Hekker made the first down. What makes it worse is that when challenged by head coach Sean Mcvay, Vinovich found “no conclusive evidence” to overturn the call.
Aside for the obvious advantage from the officials, this game is being played in New Orleans where the Saints enjoy a significant home field advantage. In terms of personnel, both teams are fairly even. Drew Brees experience definitely gives the Saints an advantage over Jared Goff. Playmakers are comparable for both sides with Tayson Hill’s versatility being an advantage for the Saints. On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams pass rush, led by Aaron Donald, is one of the best in the league but the linebacking core is a weakness. The Rams have struggled against the run and the Saints may be able to exploit that. The Saints defense was the 2nd toughest to run on this year, but was the 2nd easiest to throw on. If LA can establish the run like they did last week, they will have a much easier time moving the ball through the air. All in all this will be a very even match-up and should be an excellent game. In the end, the Saints 12th man (Superdome crowd) and 13th man (Vinovich) will prove to be to much for the Rams.
Will a Special Teams or Defensive TD be scored? YES +155
Will there be a Successful 2 point Conversion Attempt in the Game? YES +275
Will the game go to Overtime? YES +900 (worth a small flier on this one)