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NFL Open Thread: Conference Championship Edition

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Before we get to today’s games, let me say that the NHL Western Conference standings are looking nice indeed:

It was also good to see this year’s Hart and Norris winners lead off the scoring yesterday. In closely related news, enjoy this thread about Peter Chiarelli, who traded last year’s MVP for a cromulentish second-pairing defenseman and has many more where that came from.

Anyway, to the NFL:

KANSAS CITY (-3) over Team Trump: Barnwell had a great piece recently about how even the best organizations have had to catch major breaks to get where they are. But being really good helps too, and the Patriots showing off their mastery yet again last week is obviously the latter; the gap between Belichick and most of the field remains remarkably large. Nobody would be shocked to see them in the Super Bowl again, and while Reid can hold his own against the GOAT from Tuesday to Saturday if things are close late I’d rather have money on the Pats. Still, there’s a difference between beating an exhausted team that showed the same defensive scheme it had been using for weeks and was all out of ideas when it became immediately obvious that the Pats had it solved and going into Arrowhead and beating a deep offense led by the presumptive MVP. The Pats have been more mortal on the road in the playoffs in the late part of their run, and I think Kansas City getting the #1 seed will be their Super Bowl ticket.

Rams (+3) over NEW ORLEANS The case for the Saints is easy: they actually had a better defense than the Rams this year, and given that it’s hard to make the case for Goff-McVay over Brees-Payton at the SuperDome, with all respect for what the former have already accomplished. What could be the wildcard is that the Rams obviously have more talent on defense than their mediocre results. This may well be a case of the names being better than their current performance level, but my guess is that Wade has some stuff up his sleeve he hasn’t had t show since the Rams have had the division effectively wrapped up since about Week 7. Even that still might not be enough against an all-time great who knows this might be his best shot for a second championship, but in what looks to me like a very even matchup I’d take the points. Caveat: if Talib gets hurt, the Rams are in deep trouble.

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