2018-19 NFL Conference Championship Sleepers and Sleeper Picks

January 18, 2019

Updated: June 14, 2024

The Los Angeles Rams (+300 to win Super Bowl 53) and the New England Patriots (+350) are not used to being underdogs, but those two teams are currently carrying that label into this weekend’s NFL conference championship round. Will the Rams and the Patriots take down their respective opponents n the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas Chiefs?

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Sleeper Picks and Predictions for the 2018-19 NFL Season AFC and NFC Conference Championships on Jan 20 2019

Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) at New Orleans Saints (-3.5) (Sun, Jan. 20, 2:05 PM ET)

The Rams are coming to Drew Brees and the Saints’ turf coming off a 30-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round. Beating the Cowboys was a fantastic feat.  Not only that it booked the Saints a ticket to the conference title game, but it also showed Los Angeles formidable ability on both ends of the field. The Rams are arguably the more balanced team compared to New Orleans. They have repeatedly shown over the course of a season that they can win either by their offense or defense – or both. A key to beating the Saints is to slow down Brees, and the Rams have just the perfect answer for that in the form of their defensive line that is fronted by Aaron Donald – the favorite to take home this season’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.

On offense, the Rams are just as menacing. Todd Gurley is going to be a problem, but the Saints can’t sleep on his backup, C.J. Anderson. Anderson has not had a game with the Rams in which he had fewer than 123 rushing yards. That two-headed monster ground attack for the Rams will create plenty of problems and headaches for the Saints’ stop unit, which will also have to worry about the Rams’ passing game that ranked fifth in the NFL during the regular season with 276.1 passing yards per game.

Writer’s Prediction: Rams win, 30-27.

New England Patriots (+3) at Kansas City Chiefs (-3) (Sun, Jan. 20, 5:40 PM ET)

It’s not always that the Patriots are the underdogs in a playoff game. But they are now against Kansas City. It’s interesting to see New England under such predicament, but one thing that’s going to help their psyche is the known fact that they have already defeated the Chiefs this season. Back in Week 6, Tom Brady and company hosted Kansas City and engaged the Chiefs in a shootout at home and won, 43-40. In other words, the Patriots beat Kansas City in its own game. Brady went 24-of-35 for 340 passing yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions in that game, while running back Sony Michel generated 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Keeping Brady upright against the Chiefs’ ferocious pass rush will be a big challenge for the Patriots’ offensive line, but it seems to be up for it after not allowing a single sack against the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

Speaking of Michel, the rookie tailback is coming off an incredible performance, rushing for 129 rushing yards and thee touchdowns in a 41-28 win over the Chargers at home back in the divisional round.

Writer’s Prediction: Patriots win, 28-23.

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