BlackJack’s Conference Championships Betting Preview: Picks for Rams-Saints, Patriots-Chiefs
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Michael Thomas, Drew Brees, Damien Williams, Patrick Mahomes
We’re down to the Final Four, brother. These are the best four teams in football and have been for quite some time. I said months ago you could write these conference title game matchups in ink and here we sit, ready to crown conference champions.
I expect some great football in both games. I can’t wait to get started, and win some money while doing it.
Let’s cash some tickets, baby!
We saw this matchup earlier in the season, when the Saints handed the Rams their first loss in a 45-35 game.
Last week the Saints were pushed early by the Eagles, down 14-0 in the first quarter. The thing that most impressed me about the Saints in that game was their defense. It pitched a shut out for three and a half quarters en route to a comeback.
The noise in the Superdome is otherworldly in these playoff games, too.
The Rams have an explosive offense, but it has been less so in recent weeks. And while the emergence of C.J. Anderson has been a nice story, it also makes me slightly concerned about the health of Todd Gurley.
The Saints are the most complete team in football. There’s also something to be said for Drew Brees and Sean Payton having the experience of being together and playing in so many big games for so long. The home field advantage here cannot be overstated, either.
I think the Saints are the team to advance in a great game.
THE PICK: New Orleans -3
It’s strange to see the Patriots as underdogs in a playoff game — even on the road — but here we are.
People are terrified to bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the playoffs, and with good reason. They throttled the Chargers last week and made it look easy.
The Chiefs also took care of business relatively easily against the Colts. The biggest takeaway from that game is that the Chiefs defense does indeed play better at home. Considerably better. Justin Houston and Dee Ford were able to get pressure on Andrew Luck more than any team in recent memory. Their man coverage held up for most of the game.
Now I expect this game to be a shootout. Both defenses are capable and will have their moments, but these are two excellent offenses and they should get most of what they want on this day.
Forget the talk of weather — the cold doesn’t really impact offenses, just wind, and we don’t have a ton of that in the forecast here.
One thing to note is that the Patriots are not the same team away from Foxborough in the playoffs. They’re 3-4 in road playoff games during this era. Brady is also 1-2 in his career starts at Arrowhead Stadium.
Ultimately this game will come down to the offenses, and the Chiefs are more dynamic and have more explosive playmakers.
I’m going to ride with the home team.
THE PICK: Kansas City -3