The four best teams are the ones left standing
The four best teams in the NFL are left as we head to Championship Weekend. Outside of the Eagles, the other three teams that came out of Wild Card Weekend went away with a whimper. These two games are also rematches of contests from earlier this year. I think we could see some of the same results from the first meeting as well. Let's take a look at the AFC and NFC Championship games.
Record: 48-35-3 (5-3 in the playoffs)
Here are the NFL picks against the spread for the conference championship games:
Los Angeles Rams (14-3) at New Orleans Saints (14-3), 3:05 p.m. ET (Sun.)
These two met back on Nov. 4 in New Orleans with the home team winning 45-35. The Saints were up 35-17 at halftime as both teams were able to throw it around the field with relative ease. Since then there's been some changes to both teams. The Rams' defense played one of its best games of the season last week holding Dallas to just 50 rushing yards on their way to a 30-22 victory. C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley got whatever they wanted against a very good Cowboys defense that seemed helpless at times against Los Angeles' offense.
The Saints, meanwhile, struggled mightily to beat the Eagles 20-14 at home. They found themselves down 14-0 very quickly and it could have been much worse had it not been for a Nick Foles interception. New Orleans' offense moved up and down the field, but it only translated to 20 points. Still, you have to think the Saints like this matchup as Drew Brees will look for Michael Thomas early and often once more. Thomas embarrassed Rams cornerback Marcus Peters in the first meeting. This will be New Orleans' fourth straight at home and that's a huge advantage despite the fact that the team hasn't covered any of these games. I think Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram could get some more work in this one as they open things up against a Los Angeles defense that can be run on.
With regards to this matchup, I'm heavily leaning to the home team. The Saints' defense has been very strong and I like Marshon Lattimore to lock down either Brandin Cooks or Robert Woods. There won't be any rust to knock off for New Orleans in this one. Brees getting back to the Super Bowl in the twilight of his career also gives plenty of people something to write about over the next two weeks. SELECTION: Saints -3.5 (New Orleans 31-20)
New England Patriots (12-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-4), 6:40 p.m. ET (Sun.)
New England beat the Chiefs at home 43-40 back on Oct. 14. Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions in that one and the Patriots racked up 500 yards of offense. The Patriots looked like the defending AFC champs last week in a 41-28 win over the Chargers in which they approached 500 yards of offense once again. James White was a huge factor in the passing game and Tom Brady was surgical. I'm not the biggest fan of the defense, but the unit makes plays when it matters. It was impressive to see the plan for that side of the ball considering Brian Flores may or may not be the new head coach of the Dolphins... wink wink.
The Chiefs also were very good in their 31-13 win over the Colts. The more impressive aspect was a Kansas City defense that held Indianapolis under 300 yards of total offense. It was the Chiefs' best defensive effort in quite a while yardage-wise. The run game worked well with 180 rushing yards, which took a little pressure off Mahomes. Damien Williams filled in admirably once again for Kareem Hunt making the running back position not as much of a weakness.
I said it last week and I will continue to say that I will not pick against the Patriots in the AFC side of the playoffs until I see them fall. I'm not a believer in Andy Reid in big games and think Bill Belichick and his staff will outmaneuver him. Brady still has another Super Bowl or two in him. It's not Mahomes' time yet and he'll throw a key interception in a loss. SELECTION: Patriots +3 (New England 28-24)
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.