“At a crucial point of our season, Michael Thomas was a big piece of cheese.” – Drew Brees
The home teams all celebrated in the division round and we have one seed vs. two seed in both conferences. Both games are a rematch from the regular season, one in the same house. Let’s review how they got there and look ahead to Championship Sunday.
The Chiefs jumped all over the Colts early and were relentless all game. Justin Houston was all over the field as the snow and cold played to their advantage. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t magical but very efficient. The Colts got on the board with a blocked punt for their first TD to make it 17-7 and many thought maybe this is where the Chiefs fall apart at home. Mahomes calmly led a dominant TD drive to stretch the lead to 24-7 and never looked back. Andy Reid’s excellence in the week after a bye overcame his lack of playoff success.
The Rams surprised the Cowboys with a ground assault that the Hot Boyz weren’t prepared for. The huge offensive line grounded and pounded a Cowboys team prepared for more of an aerial assault. C.J. Anderson went from moving furniture in the middle of the season to moving first down chains and Todd Gurley looked refreshed. The Rams defensive line also took care of business stuffing Ezekiel Elliot on a huge 4th and 1 and holding him to a meager 47 yards on 20 carries.
The Patriots won the opening coin toss and elected to receive in a shift from their usual modus operandi. They promptly stuffed it right in the end zone and dominated after allowing the Chargers to tie it after a defensive slip. Josh McDaniels and Bill Bellichek overmatched poor Anthony Lynn in his first playoff run.
The Eagles were reluctant defending champions who had to have the Lombardi trophy ripped out of their hands by the favored Saints. An inept first quarter almost doomed the Saints filled with turnovers and penalties. It took three quarters of fake punts, fourth downs and gritty defense to barely overcome Nick Foles.
The Rams and the Saints have both improved on defense so look for less scoring than the 45-35 regular season Saints victory. The Saints will miss Sheldon Rankins as the Rams will try to duplicate their running success against the Cowboys. The Rams defensive line will try and disrupt things like the Eagles giving Andrus Peat a rough time. Look for the Saints to be sharp from the opening kickoff and fire on all cylinders. Sean Payton’s experience will trump the youthful genius Sean McVay and the Saints roll 34-19.
The Patriots triumphed over the Chiefs in the regular season at home, 43-40. The only confident prediction is that there will be more than one punt in the rematch. The Chiefs defense looks rejuvenated as if they were resting all year for this moment. Justin Houston makes a couple of game changing plays and the Chiefs prevail 29-27.
“Your dreams don’t die till you give up on them.” – C.J. Anderson