Posted 01/14/2019 at 02:47 PM
The 14-1 playoff underdog run came to a halt last week and favorites were a missed field goal away from sweeping the divisional round contests. With the upsets in the wild card round, three of last week’s teams were in a daunting third consecutive road game though the Eagles nearly overcame the taxing late season schedule in an exciting finish before the late interception.
Nine of the past 10 #1 seeds in the NFL Playoffs have made the Super Bowl including five straight in the AFC, though that team has been the Patriots in three of the past five years. Kansas City is seeking its first Super Bowl trip since Super Bowl IV in 1970, the only Super Bowl championship for the franchise. New England is seeking its 11th appearance, already with five titles.
While the Chiefs are a newcomer to the AFC Championship in recent years, Andy Reid coached in five conference championship games with the Eagles, losing four of those games but getting to the Super Bowl in 2005 where they lost to the Patriots. Bill Belichick is 6-2 in his career vs. Reid, though just 3-5 ATS. The Patriots and Chiefs have split four meetings since 2014 with the Chiefs 3-1 ATS but the Patriots winning and covering in the playoff meeting three years ago.
In now six of the past seven seasons the NFC Championship has featured the #1 and #2 seeds. The #2 seed won just one of those five matchups vs. the #1 seed. Sean Payton coached in the NFC Championship in his first season as a head coach, losing to the Bears 39-14 in January 2007. He made it back to the Championship three years later as the Saints won one of the most memorable NFC Championships ever in overtime against the Vikings before winning the Super Bowl. Counting the playoffs Payton owns a 126-79 career record as a head coach and will have a chance to cement his legacy as an all-time great with two more wins.
Sean McVay’s rise has been impressive going 25-9 in two years and the league has been scrambling copy his methods and find another young rising star in the coaching ranks. McVay will turn 33 later this month and he’ll hope he’ll be preparing for the Super Bowl with his team. If the Rams win the Super Bowl he’ll surpass Mike Tomlin as the youngest coach to win the championship, with Tomlin winning in his second season with Pittsburgh at 36 and still searching for his second despite a 133-73-1 career record.
The league’s top four scoring teams are the four teams remaining in the playoff bracket. The top remaining scoring defense is actually New England who finished 7th, followed by the Saints (14th), the Rams (20th), and the Chiefs (24th). All four quarterbacks were top 10 Total QBR performers this season and these were four of the league’s top five teams in net scoring differential on the season as it is hard to make a case against this quartet being the most deserving semifinalists this season and the lines suggest great games are ahead. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…