NFL Playoffs 2019: Schedule and Predictions for Conference Championships

Jake RillContributor IIJanuary 14, 2019

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, right, gives a high-five to quarterback Tom Brady during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

With only four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs, the contenders for Super Bowl LIII will soon be decided. On Sunday, the Conference Championship round will take place, with a pair of Super Bowl berths on the line.

In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams in the first matchup on Sunday afternoon. Then, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Each matchup features the top two seeds from its respective conference.

Below is a look at the schedule for the rest of the playoffs, along with predictions for both Conference Championship matchups.

        

Remaining Postseason Schedule

Sunday, Jan. 20

Conference Championships

NFC Championship Game: No. 2 Los Angeles Rams at No. 1 New Orleans Saints, 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox

AFC Championship Game: No. 2 New England Patriots at No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs, 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS

      

Sunday, Feb. 3

Super Bowl LIII

NFC champion vs. AFC champion, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS

     

Where to Watch: NFL playoff games, studio shows and more are available through fuboTV.

    

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The first matchup of the Conference Championship round on Sunday features the top two teams from the NFC.

Not only were New Orleans and Los Angeles the top two teams, but each has a strong offense. When the two teams played on Nov. 4, the Saints outlasted the Rams, 45-35, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Neither team has been to the Super Bowl in recent seasons.

The Saints last played in the NFC Championship Game in the 2009 season, which was also the last time they won the Super Bowl. They had lost in the divisional round in their three previous playoff appearances prior to beating the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

The Rams' divisional-round win was their first postseason victory since the 2004 season. They haven't played in the NFC Championship Game since the 2001 season, which was the year they lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Although the Saints won their last matchup against the Rams—and they again have home-field advantage—don't expect the same result.

The Rams will rely on their two-headed rushing attack of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson to outscore the Saints, and the defense will come up with a key stop late to seal the victory.

Pick: Rams 44, Saints 41

        

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: James White #28 of the New England Patriots reacts with Rob Gronkowski #87 during the third quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxb
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

This matchup features the two top seeds in the AFC, one with tons of playoff experience and the other with much less.

The Chiefs haven't played in the AFC Championship Game since the 1993 season, and they haven't been to the Super Bowl since winning Super Bowl IV at the end of the 1969 season.

Kansas City had lost in the divisional round or Wild Card Round in four of the previous five seasons before it beat Indianapolis on Saturday to advance.

The Patriots are playing in the AFC Championship Game for the eighth straight season. They'll be looking to play in the Super Bowl for the third straight year.

New England has won five Super Bowls, all with veteran quarterback Tom Brady at the helm, since the 2001 season.

The Chiefs may have the better record and home-field advantage, but the Patriots' experience will be too much to overcome. And just like when these two teams played in the regular season, New England will earn a close win.

Expect Brady to come through for New England late, throwing a game-winning touchdown pass to help the Pats get back to the Super Bowl.

Pick: Patriots 37, Chiefs 34  

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