A Closer Look At the NFL Conference Championships


The Boston Globe

With the Super Bowl just weeks away, football fans around the country await the most exciting games of the 2018-2019 NFL season.


Trey Riera-Gomez, Staff Writer

Now heading into the third and final week of the playoffs before the arrival of the Super Bowl, the 2018-2019 National Football League (NFL) season is coming to a close. With this season’s four giants still standing, fans are sure to see an eventful last stretch as each team fights to advance and claim the title of Super Bowl Champion.

The four teams still in competition, and scheduled to play this upcoming weekend, are: the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams. The two games are scheduled to be played on Sunday, Jan. 20th, at 3:05 and 6:40, respectively. Each team was the top seed in their respective division heading into Round 1, and together they comprised the four standout teams of the regular season. For this very reason, it did not come as a surprise to most that they were the last to remain standing at this point. However, due to the high caliber of performance displayed by these powerhouses so far this season, many analysts and fans alike are struggling to anticipate the outcomes of the two games this week. With that being said, below is an overview of each team’s success and a brief outlook on the matchups ahead.

Rams vs. Saints: 

This incredible matchup serves as a rematch between two NFC conference rivals, putting star quarterback Jared Goff, arguably the top running back in the league, Todd Gurley, and the rest of the number two offense against 2010 Super Bowl champion Drew Brees, upstart running back Alvin Kamara and Pro-Bowl receiver Michael Thomas. Gurley had rushed for the third most yards this season, until he was hindered by an injury at the end of the regular season. The injury to Gurley, as well as that of former backup Malcolm Brown, resulted in the Rams signing a former Denver Broncos running back, CJ Anderson. In recent weeks, he has provided the Rams with yet another offensive spark, rushing for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys last week.

“I look forward to watching the two NFC giants go at each other and am hoping that the Rams win, which would demonstrate that they are a quality team that beat my Cowboys,” senior Kade Marriott said.

On the other side of the ball, each team’s defense has been outstanding this year, as the Rams’ star defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, set the NFL record for most sacks by a defensive tackle earlier in the season. On the other hand, the Saints’ defense has been on point all season and even held the high-powered Rams offense at bay in a 45-35 game back in Week 9 of the regular season.

However, fans of either side are anxious to tune in and see how the clash between these two titans will end. Will Drew Brees emerge victorious for a second time this season, or will Jared Goff finally topple the future Hall of Famer?

Patriots vs. Chiefs:

In the later game, the two remaining AFC teams will battle it out on the big stage in Kansas City. This game’s outcome, too, is seemingly unpredictable, as both teams have had major successes this season and it is difficult to imagine either one losing. The matchup hosts the number one ranked defense against the fifth best in the same category.

At the helm of each of these offenses stands a giant. With one of the best offenses in the history of the conference championship, the Chiefs are led by Patrick Mahomes, a rookie who in his first season has already completed 50 touchdown passes and thrown for over 5,000 yards. On the other side, stands NFL legend, five-time Super Bowl champion and captain of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady. This season, Brady has faced several tribulations regarding his injury and the suspension of some of his players yet has still managed to get this far. Beside Mahomes, the Chiefs’ quarterback, the Chiefs’ various other stars include Pro-Bowlers Tyreek Hill (wide receiver and kick returner) and Travis Kelce (tight end).

In regards to each team’s defense, neither was outstanding, yet each has been able to hold its own this season, contributing to the Chiefs’ final record of 12-4 and to the Patriots’ record of 11-5.

“Even though I hear a lot of people talk about seeing the Patriots versus the Rams in the Superbowl, I’m more excited to see how the Saints do. After watching them this past season, I feel like they have a good chance of making it past the playoffs and to the Super Bowl,” senior Sophie Sepehri said.

Due to these various factors, the two games this weekend are sure to be eventful, and only time will tell which two teams advance past this round. Be sure to catch the Rams-Saints game on Sunday, Jan. 20 on FOX, and the Patriots-Chiefs game right after on CBS!