2018-2019 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships

Patriots-Chiefs
Rams-Saints

Comments on Patriots-Chiefs

I was going to say that my thoughts about this game are similar to my thoughts on the Colts-Chiefs game–namely, that the Patriots had to control the clock, and limit explosive plays and TDs by the Chiefs. On the other side, Mahomes needed to make a handful of key plays and protect the football. If both things happened, the game would be a toss up.

But here’s something else that came to mind: If the Patriots play like they did against the Chargers, they will win. That might be obvious, I guess. But if they play close to what they did on offense, scoring points and controlling the ball, I’d guess they’d win.

Comments on Rams-Saints

I wonder how the Rams offense will play. Are they going to run a lot and run well? Or will they go back to leaning more towards passing, and letting the run set up the pass? I have no idea. If they run the way they did last week, it’s hard to see them losing–unless the Saints offense just goes off. I tend to think that won’t happen if the Rams defense play a minimal number of snaps/possessions and have long intervals between possessions.

For the Saints, I think they have to sustain drives, or at least can’t get string of really short ones. If the latter happens, I think they’ll lose.

Don, are you going with your “hard to beat ’em twice” theory?

13 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships

  1. Man, I have a feeling Mitchell will be cheering for the Pats. This is their 8 straight AFC Championship game. Ridiculous. I hope the Pats gets smoked. I’m hoping that part of why the Pats are so effective running the football is teams still are game planning against them like they are that passing team that have dominated for almost a decade, and part of that hope is the Chiefs will defend them like they are going to run the ball. Add to that, that I thought both teams struggled to pass the ball in the weather last week in Kansas City, so even more so play the run, Chiefs. Again hard to bet against the Pats in this one, though. I think their experience and Reid’s lack of playoff success does not bode well for the Chiefs. But if the Chiefs are to win, they will have to strike early and get off to a good if not great start.

    I like the Saints against the Rams. I just thought the Rams defense was awful last week. Yes they played the run well, and will have to do that again, but their DBs were playing like ten yards off the line. Crazy. I think what I saw from the Rams offense last week will give me pause and I think if they can do that again, of course they will have a chance. But this is not the coaching staff of the Cowboys they are facing this week. They might actually be playing against a coaching staff that can coach and change during the game if need to.  Sort of kidding, because I’m not sure the Cowboys could have stopped the run if they wanted to, because it definitely didn’t seem like it. The Rams defense will not play to stop the run like they did against the Cowboys, nor can I see the Rams offense dictating the tempo like they did against the Cowboys. This is why I like the Saints.

    I guess I don’t like the hard to beat ‘em twice theory because I’m going with the teams that won the first one. In NE’s case, it’s previous year’s playoff’s success. Should this matter, I’m not 100% sure, but it’s hard to pick against it. In the Saint’s case, I think they are just the better and more talented team. I sort of hope McVay can show he is the next Belichick, but I’m not confident he is.

    1. Add to that, that I thought both teams struggled to pass the ball in the weather last week in Kansas City, so even more so play the run, Chiefs.

      What you’re saying makes sense, but (and I don’t mean to rain on your parade, because I’m rooting hard against the Pats as well), I think the Chiefs have sucked against the run all year. Unless they intentionally didn’t care about defending the run, I really wonder if they’re capable. On the other hand, I felt the same way against the Rams defense, and they defended the run fairly well against the Cowboys. Now, the Rams offense controlled the ball, and the Cowboys had a bunch of short possessions (I think), and I have to believe that helped the Rams defense.

      The problem is that I don’t see the Chiefs offense really controlling the ball that well (especially by running it a ton). They’re either going to score quickly, or probably not hold onto the ball very long.

      But I’m not confident about any of my predictions. The performances of many teams vary so widely throughout the year, very few things will surprise me.

      Again hard to bet against the Pats in this one, though. I think their experience and Reid’s lack of playoff success does not bode well for the Chiefs.

      I don’t put much stock in the notion that Reid isn’t a good playoff coach. In Philly, I think he was limited by roster weak spots (e.g., WRs). They went to the Super Bowl when they addressed this problem by getting TO. In KC, he never had a QB that could take them all the way. Mahomes definitely has the potential, but he’s young. (Belichick could out trick him, or Mahomes may just make rookie mistakes.)

      But if the Chiefs are to win, they will have to strike early and get off to a good if not great start.

      I think you’re right. It’s either this or getting some turnovers or big plays on ST.

      I like the Saints against the Rams. I just thought the Rams defense was awful last week. Yes they played the run well, and will have to do that again, but their DBs were playing like ten yards off the line. Crazy.

      “Awful” seems too strong for me. Then again, my baseline for the Rams defense is really low, so the fact that they exceeded that, in my view, might have made them seem better than they are. In any event, if the Rams run the ball like they did last week, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rams defense plays fairly well. The Saints offenses haven’t looked as good, even against bad defenses. Now, if they have long drives against the Rams defense, the Rams defense might fall a part or be so softened that the Saints offense will function fairly well.

      In the Saint’s case, I think they are just the better and more talented team.

      I would agree, but they have not looked good for a while. They were fortunate to win last week, even at home.

  2. Why yes, I am rooting for the Patriots. I don’t even care which NFC team wins this weekend. If the Patriots go to the Super Bowl, they’re going to win.

    The Chiefs are scary, and the Patriots are playing on the road. These are the only two things I’m concerned about. I think it’s silly to try and predict how the Patriots might (or will) win, because they keep winning in ways nobody predicts.

    You can defend Reid’s playoff performance if you want, but the man does seem to have a clock management problem. Perhaps he’s over them, or perhaps one of his assistants is on that. But the least surprising thing that might happen Sunday is Reid mismanaging the clock and the Chiefs running out of time. The second least-surprising thing might be Reid not managing his challenge flag well.

    Patriots by 5.

    I can’t think of a reason to favor one team over the other in the NFC except maybe the Super Dome and West Coast teams traveling east. All else being equal (and I’m not saying they are), take the better QB. Saints by 7.

    Brady-Brees would be a fun Super Bowl.

    1. I think it’s silly to try and predict how the Patriots might (or will) win, because they keep winning in ways nobody predicts.

      For similar reasons–namely, the degree of unpredictability for many of the teams–I don’t feel confident making predictions.

      You can defend Reid’s playoff performance if you want, but the man does seem to have a clock management problem.

      I’ve never scrutinize this myself to form a strong opinion. But what stands out to me is the personnel deficiencies he’s had.

      Brady-Brees would be a fun Super Bowl.

      The performance of one or both teams could be mediocre, but if both teams perform well, this would be a good game, objectively. I still wouldn’t want to see the Patriots go to the Super Bowl, though.

  3. Rams-Saints

    INT by Rams was huge, obviously.

    Both teams not running much, and/or not running it well. I feel like the team that can do this well will have a big advantage in the second half, and likely win.

    Welp, neither team really ran a lot or well.

    I think that missed DPI at the end was brutal.

  4. Patriots-Chiefs

    I hate the Patriots, but I actually started cheering for them because they were running the ball. But I started cheering against them at the end.

    Ugh. This is another Super Bowl I’m not going to want to watch.

  5. I saw most of both of this weekend’s games. Here’s my thoughts:

    New Orleans dominated the first maybe 20 minutes of the game. Completely dominated it. However, when the score was 13-3, it looked like the Rams was going to turn it around. Then they ended the half with a TD and was going to get the ball start of the 2nd half, I thought, “Wow the Rams may win.” That all changed when the Rams went three and out and the Saints scored to make it 20-10. Kudos to the Rams for coming back.

    I thought the Saints made the mistake of blitzing Goff for good portions of the game. Goff was given the opportunity to make easy completions especially slants. Whereas in the last few games I didn’t think Goff was doing a good job outside of those quick throws. I think the key of late is to take away Goff’s first and maybe second options and make him hold the ball. That being said Goff played well.

    I think all-in-all the Saints, Rams game boiled down to scoring in the red zone, which the Saints couldn’t do. They had three chip shot field goals, which meant they were close to the scoring a TD, but could not punch it in.

    What stood out to me about the Patriots is their o-line dominated. I think maybe Reid (the clown, not Andy), and I may have heard it somewhere on TV, that said the Pats o-line has been the best o-line at the end of the season. It really showed in this one, with their pass pro especially. The Chiefs, even on obvious passing downs, could get no pressure what-so-ever. Yes, credit TB12 for some of that, but mostly it was the o-line.

    NE, as usual, took away the Chiefs weapons like Tyreek and Kelce, but give credit to Mahommes, who consistently found his other weapons. Well at least in the second half he was able to.

    Overall, the calls really affected both games. Obviously the non-pass interference call in the Saints game. The lining up offsides by the Chiefs. Sad that it affected the games so much, because all four teams played decently well, with NE probably making the most errors (ie: turnovers).

    1. I think all-in-all the Saints, Rams game boiled down to scoring in the red zone, which the Saints couldn’t do.

      I think this is reasonable argument, but you don’t think either team’s ability to run and control the clock was a potentially bigger factor, especially for the Saints. As you acknowledged they controlled the game early on, even though they were only able to kick three field goals. They had one relatively long drive in the early part of the second half, but after than they couldn’t or didn’t run and sustain drives very well–or at least that’s what I remember.

      Also, do you guys think the Saints were a really good team? My feeling is that the Saints aren’t aren’t a really great team. But they were a good team, and probably the most balanced team, at least for the last quarter of the season. Right now, the Patriots may be more balanced, based on these last two games.

      As for the Patriots-Chiefs game, I feel like the weather was a significant factor. I think it had a lot to do with the turnovers. I even wonder if weather affected Edelman’s decision to try and field the punt–as in the cold got to his judgment. That may sound crazy, but I can’t explain what he was thinking. He’s extremely lucky the officials didn’t rule that a fumble.

      Overall, the calls really affected both games. Obviously the non-pass interference call in the Saints game.

      I really do not like blaming officiating for a loss. My thinking (which stems from coaching) is to ignore officiating; specifically, I don’t want my players to think about it or use it as an excuse. A game doesn’t come down to one or two calls–the losing team almost definitely failed to do things that contributed to their loss. I think that applies to the Saints. But the DB looked like he was tackling the WR outside of a zone where the play would be close. I think Bill Vinovich’s crew is one that allows players to play, and I really like that approach. I think this is on example of how that can have a downside. (The officials mentality is geared to call only egregious penalties, and so that may have made them fail to call this one.)

      1. Actually when I saw Kamara non-pass interference call play live, I didn’t think it was that egregious. But in slow mo, it looked bad, really bad.

        It’s tough because that call cost Saints the game. I agree with you, one call shouldn’t make a game, but when it happens at those certain moments, it’s tough not to say it did.

        1. Actually when I saw Kamara non-pass interference call play live, I didn’t think it was that egregious.

          What makes it look bad is that it doesn’t seem like the DB sees the QB or the ball. And when you see it from another angle, it seems clearer that he doesn’t know the ball is released or where it is. When safeties time their hit, they’re often in an angle where they’re aware the ball is released and where the ball is. In this play, it just looks like the DB is not aware of this and hits the WR.

          And even if you take all this way, the DB’s helmet made contact with the WR’s helmet, so…

          It’s tough because that call cost Saints the game. I agree with you, one call shouldn’t make a game, but when it happens at those certain moments, it’s tough not to say it did.

          I agree, it’s tough. But as a player or coach, you can’t think this way. Only bad things happen if you allow yourself to say the official decided the game. And again, it’s really not true. Yes, that call was really huge, but there were other things that the Saints could have done to not make it so decisive. As a Saints fan, this would not provide me much comfort, though, and if I never adopted this attitude as a coach, I’d be really upset. (And even with the attitude, I’m pretty annoyed by the no call.)

          By the way, there is the inevitable talk of making every call reviewable. I forgot where you guys stand on this. I’m against this, and I predict adopting this approach will lead to more frustration and dissatisfaction, not less. (It might even lead to worse officiating.)

          By the way, what did you guys think of the roughing the passer on Brady, one that was similar to the no call to Mahomes? I thought it should have been a no call, but I wasn’t super annoyed by this. If anything, I would be more annoyed that the official from behind Brady made the call (at least I think he did). The Mahomes no call was the right one, but in real time, it looked like he got whacked in the face.

  6. Any opinions on the Rams not going for the TD on 4 and 1 down by 3 in the fourth quarter? To me it’s a no brainer that McVay should have gone for it. Because even if he doesn’t get the TD, the Saints will be backed up and the Rams would have a good chance of getting the ball back with good field possession with lots of time to win or tie the game again. Cris Collinsworth pointed out one thing I didn’t think of. He said the Rams have been fighting back all game long, to not tie it in that moment may have been something they could not come back from. He thought they should have gone for it too by the way, but that was his counter-argument. If McVay could have processed his team’s “psychology” in that quick moment and that’s why he kicked the field goal, that’s pretty impressive for a young guy. That’s a lot of ifs, but if that’s what happen, that is pretty darn good coaching.

    1. Cris Collinsworth pointed out one thing I didn’t think of. He said the Rams have been fighting back all game long, to not tie it in that moment may have been something they could not come back from.

      That was my feeling. I feel like if they failed to get the TD, the team may not recover from the letdown.

      I think the call is a close one though. In terms of going for it, I like the idea of putting the game in your offense’s hands, especially since that was the strength of the team. I can’t remember how well the Rams offense was playing at that point, and that would be a factor as well.

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