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Championship Sunday: Who’s heading to Atlanta?

Divisional Round - Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

For the second straight weekend the NFL Playoffs continue without the Seattle Seahawks, whose season came to an end two weeks ago in Dallas, and this weekend the participants in Super Bowl XLIII will be decided. There should be some fun and entertaining football on Sunday, with the conference championships set to take place late Sunday.

The action will kick off first in the cozy confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams for the right to represent the NFC when the Super Bowl is played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in two weeks. Both teams bring high powered offenses to the table, as the Rams and Saints are the number two and number three scoring teams in the NFL.

When these two teams met in Week 9 they combined to score 80 points with the Saints coming away with a 45-35 victory. Oddsmakers don’t seem to expect quite the same kind of offensive explosion this time around, as the over/under at 56.5 as of late Saturday, but even that would represent an above average scoring game.

In the other conference championship it’s the Kansas City Chiefs facing the ever present New England Patriots for the right to represent the AFC. Kansas City has long faced postseason woes, having not won a Super Bowl since the 1969 season. On the flip side, the Patriots have won basically every Super Bowl this millennium.

The offenses of both of these teams come in highly ranked as well, with the Chiefs boasting the highest scoring offense in the NFL and Patriots the fourth highest scoring offense in the league. In short, all four of the highest scoring offenses in the league are playing for the conference championship today and not a single one of the four teams in the conference championships has a top three or top five defense.

If, however, you are a believer that defense wins championships, then let me present to you the New England Patriots, who enter their showdown with the Chiefs boasting the highest ranked defense in terms of points allowed of the remaining team. Their ranking of seventh in this category comes in ahead of the Saints (14), the Rams (20) and the Chiefs (24).

Seven of the top ten scoring defenses made the playoffs in 2018, but the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts combined to go 3-6, leaving the Patriots as the top remaining scoring defense. If one prefers their defensive rankings to be of the DVOA variety, then there are no top ten teams left and New Orleans (11) is the best defense left. Behind them would be the Pats (16), Rams (19) and the Chiefs (26).

As for my thoughts on the games today, my proprietary metrics have the Patriots and Saints advancing to take on one another in Atlanta. Obviously, that’s nothing more than playing the probabilities based on my models, but that’s what the models say, so that’s what I’m going with.

Who are you rooting for?


Who do you want to see with the NFC Championship game?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    New Orleans Saints
    (184 votes)
  • 16%
    Los Angeles Rams
    (37 votes)
221 votes total Vote Now


Who do you want to see win the AFC Championship?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Kansas City Chiefs
    (213 votes)
  • 12%
    New England Patriots
    (31 votes)
244 votes total Vote Now