Super Bowl 2019: Updated Odds and Predictions Ahead of AFC, NFC Championships

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws during the first half of an NFL divisional football playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Ed Zurga/Associated Press

For the first time since the 2015-16 NFL season, the top two seeds in each conference are participating in conference championship weekend. 

All four teams left in the NFL postseason were near the top of the odds chart to win Super Bowl 53 throughout the regular season, which should make the AFC and NFC Championship Games some of the best football we've watched over the last five months.

New Orleans carries the lowest championship odds of the quartet, but Kansas City, New England and the Los Angeles Rams all have decent odds because of how well they've performed. 

Recent history suggests the Chiefs and Saints will meet in Atlanta on February 3, as top seeds have met in four of the last five Super Bowls. 

While the odds are against New England and Los Angeles at the moment, both are more than capable of bucking the trend and winning on the road to move on to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

                                

Updated Super Odds

                

Predictions

Chiefs over Patriots 

The first-ever AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium features one of the up-and-coming stars of the league against the established power of the last two decades. 

It's fair to use the buildup to the clash between the Chiefs and Patriots to focus solely on the offense because Patrick Mahomes produced an MVP-caliber season and Tom Brady has five Super Bowl rings in his possession. 

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Brady carries the edge in experience, and he comes into Sunday off a pair of solid performances in his last two AFC Championships. 

Against Jacksonville a year ago, Brady threw for 290 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while he recorded 384 yards and three touchdowns in 2017 in a win over Pittsburgh.

Brady's also gone four playoff games without throwing an interception, and he's totaled nine touchdown passes in that span. 

Before Kansas City's defensive performance against Indianapolis in the divisional round, it would've been easy to think Brady replicates those numbers at Arrowhead Stadium.

However, the Chiefs come into the AFC Championship with a defensive confidence they lacked for the majority of the season. 

In New England's last three conference championship defeats, it's been held under 20 points by Baltimore and Denver. 

There's a good chance the Chiefs turn in a similar defensive performance to the one they had versus Indianapolis because they play much better inside their home stadium.

Kansas City's five-best defensive showings of the season came at Arrowhead Stadium, and they've held opponents to 17.4 points per game in nine home contests.

Another positive sign for the Kansas City defense is it conceded under 200 passing yards on five occasions, with three of them coming after December 1 at home. 

If the Chiefs can replicate those defensive numbers while Mahomes shines in the pocket, the Chiefs will make a long-awaited return to the Super Bowl.

Mahomes is 8-1 at home and is coming off a 278-yard performance against the Colts, but he might need to hit the 300-yard mark to feel safe against the Patriots. 

Taking the AFC crown away from the Patriots will be a difficult task, but the Chiefs have the pieces in place on both sides of the ball to get the job done. 

                             

Saints over Rams 

New Orleans will follow a similar formula to Kansas City to earn its second trip the Super Bowl and first since winning the title at Super Bowl XLIV.

The first key for New Orleans is the obvious one, as Drew Brees needs to be at his best against the Los Angeles defense.

In six home playoff games with the Saints, Brees has 14 touchdowns and two interceptions, and he's thrown for over 300 yards in the last three postseason contests at the Superdome.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a third quarter touchdown pass to Michael Thomas (not pictured) against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 1
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In addition to banking off his postseason confidence on home soil, Brees will use his four-touchdown performance against the Rams in Week 9 as a blueprint for success in the NFC Championship.

As long as he spreads the ball around and avoids the advances of Aaron Donald into the backfield, Brees should have another successful day in the pocket. 

But the performance of the veteran quarterback won't be the only reason the Saints come out on top, as their defense steps up for the second consecutive week. 

After conceding 14 first-quarter points to Philadelphia in the divisional round, the Saints made the proper adjustments to shut down the Nick Foles-led offense. 

In the NFC Championship Game, the Saints will come out with a few new defensive wrinkles as an adjustment to what the Rams had success with in Week 9.

Expect those alterations to be made in controlling the rushing game, which has led to plenty of success in recent weeks for the Rams. 

In the 45-35 win at the Superdome, the Saints held Todd Gurley to 68 yards and a touchdown. 

If they employ similar tactics to stopping Gurley from Week 9, the Saints should be able to make their presence known on the interior from the start.

By limiting the gains of the Rams running backs, the Saints force Jared Goff to beat them, especially on third downs. 

Marshon Lattimore and his teammates in the secondary will come up with enough third-down stops to allow Brees to create separation on the scoreboard, and by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, the crowd in New Orleans should be in a celebratory mood. 

                        

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference

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