By Norm Elrod
(CBSLA/CBS Local) — In the NFC and AFC Championships this Sunday, four teams will vie for their respective conference titles, with a trip to Atlanta and Super Bowl LIII on the line.
The NFC Championship pits the Los Angeles Rams against the New Orleans Saints. The two top seeds are both coming off impressive seasons and, of course, wins in the divisional round. The Rams dominated the Dallas Cowboys with a ground game that totaled 273 yards and three touchdowns. Drew Brees threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, though his Saints needed a late interception to fend off the Philadelphia Eagles.
The AFC Championship also features the two top seeds in the conference, with the New England Patriots venturing into Arrowhead to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady and the Patriots looked impressive in last Sunday’s dismantling of the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs, behind a resurgent defense, leveraged another strong performance from Patrick Mahomes to stifle the Indianapolis Colts.
With two exciting championship games on tap, CBS Los Angeles Sports’ Kevin Cuenca provides his thoughts on the intriguing matchups. Which teams can we expect to advance?
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints, Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
“In the NFC, you have the Rams going to New Orleans to play the Saints, just like they did during the regular season. The Rams lost that game 45-35. Of course, Aqib Talib did not play in that game, but Michael Thomas, the receiver for the Saints, just went off. A career day… 211 receiving yards. And Drew Brees has been fantastic all season long, especially in home games in New Orleans. But ultimately, I think the Rams will take this one, and here’s why. These last three games, with C.J. Anderson at running back. He’s eclipsed 100 yards in all three of these games. And now you have him and a healthy Todd Gurley controlling the clock and leading the way for the Rams running attack, and taking a lot of pressure off of quarterback Jared Goff. We saw what those two running backs did against the Cowboys, both rushing for over 100 yards, the first time that two Rams running backs have done that in the same playoff game in team history. I think, with C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley running the rock and controlling the time of possession in this one, the Rams will go to New Orleans and do something they couldn’t do during the regular season: steal a game against the Saints. And, of course, [they’ll] head to the Super Bowl.”
New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
“This is the eighth straight time that the Patriots, led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, are in the AFC title game. And they’re going up a very talented squad with the Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who’s just been fantastic this season… 50 touchdown passes and only 12 interceptions. He has a lot of weapons, guys like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. And, of course, Kansas City is playing at home. But ultimately, I think the Patriots experience will win out in this game, and they will take this one on the road.”