Looks like Patriots (again?) vs. Saints in Super Bowl

Friday, January 18, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 3

With only four teams remaining, it’s no real surprise that four of the most potent offenses in the league have slots in the conference championship games.

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs are the latest challenger to the New England Patriots’ throne. Love the Pats or hate them, appearing in eight consecutive AFC title games is one of the most amazing feats in sports – perhaps on par with the dominance of John Wooden’s UCLA basketball teams of the 1960s or Casey Stengel’s Yankees of the ‘50s. Teams know they’re going to have to knock off the Patriots to do get to the top.

In the NFC, the two most explosive offenses in the conference will be on display in the Superdome when the Saints host the Rams. It could come down to who has the football last with a Super Bowl berth hanging in the balance.

The other cool thing is the quarterback matchup of young vs. old with Pat Mahomes and Jared Goff trying to knock off graybeards Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

Los Angeles Rams (14-3) at New Orleans Saints (14-3)

Sunday, 2 p.m., Fox

The Rams methodically put away the Cowboys in the divisional round, while the Saints had to rally to oust the defending champion Eagles.

Goff has plenty of firepower to work with running back Todd Gurley and his suddenly resurgent backup C.J. Anderson, picked up off the scrap heap in December.

The Rams defense, which struggled against the run all year, shut down Ezekiel Elliott.

The Saints counter with Drew Brees and his vast array of weapons that includes Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.

The team that forces a turnover or gets a big stop might be the team that comes out on top. The Rams are loaded with talent, but the Saints will be hard to handle at home and with a raucous crowd cheering their every move.

Prediction: Saints 41, Rams 33.

New England Patriots (12-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-4)

Sunday, 5:40 p.m., CBS

Andy Reid and the Chiefs finally got a home playoff win, 31-13 against the Colts in the snow and cold of Arrowhead.

Mahomes, the frontrunner for MVP, is Exhibit A for the new style of quarterback that is taking the NFL by storm.

His strong arm plus the speed of Tyreek Hill and the matchup nightmare that is tight end Travis Kelce gives him plenty of options in distributing the football.

It is Kansas City’s defense that is suspect, however, which could open the door for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots to find a way, as they almost always seem to do.

If the Pats are to make their fifth trip to the Super Bowl in eight years, they will have to do it on the road after impressively dispensing with the Chargers at home in the divisional round.

Julian Edelman and rookie Sony Michel had big games in that win, but with the Patriots the supporting cast is ever changing and it is always someone new week to week that steps up in a big way.

This one should be an offensive affair as well. Is it time for new power broker to rule the AFC, or will the Patriots dynasty prevail one more time?

Prediction: Patriots 34, Chiefs 31.

-- Terry McCormick