5 key points from the NFL Playoffs as we head to the conference finals
The NFL conference championship games are set, and the pretenders have been discarded. All four higher seeds won and advanced this past weekend. Only the Saints-Eagles game was competitive. Five thoughts as we move on to the next round:
1) Old vs. new. Both championship games will feature all-time great quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Tom Brady) facing two young up and coming superstars (Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes). The ageless Brady will have to go on the road, but what the Patriots have done is amazing. Eight straight trips to the AFC Championship is simply silly. This may be the Chiefs year, but Brady and the Pats won't make it easy. Brees and Sean Payton have never lost a game at the Superdome in the playoffs. The Rams are solid, but the Saints played poorly Sunday and still advanced.
2) The Colts are close. They were dominated by the Chiefs, but they are a few players away from being a strong force in the future. Beef up the secondary, maybe add to the running game, and hope to keep Andrew Luck healthy, and they will be legitimate Super Bowl Contenders next year.
3) The Cowboys, too. They weren't competitive against LA, but the Cowboys are a team with potential. They can upgrade their DL, get a tight end and add to the secondary, but they don't have a lot of weaknesses. They just need to get a little better and hope they can win with Dak Prescott.
4) The Chargers are fool's gold. Everyone says they have the most complete team. But they are a lot like the Falcons. They seem to be lacking something. They have the coaching and the talent, but they just don't seem to be up for the big moments. They were run out of Foxboro by a Patriots team with flaws.
5) Predictions. I took New England over the Saints before the season. If I had to do it over, I would probably go with Chiefs over Saints. The four best teams in the regular season will be meeting for a shot at the Super Bowl. Both home teams (New Orleans and KC) have huge home field advantages. The Chiefs - who had one playoff win under Andy Reid (Texans fans will remember 30-0) - cleared a huge hurdle by housing the Colts. This might be their year.
Regardless, unlike this week, we should get competitive games. It will be surprising if we had the boring routs that we had in three of the four playoff games.
The bad news? We only have three football games left in the season. Hopefully they will be entertaining.