League’s final four have big-name QBs, plenty of offense
Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes. Jared Goff against Drew Brees.
Two high-profile rematches with the Super Bowl on the line.
The NFL’s highest-scoring offenses meet in the conference championship games Sunday. Brady leads the Patriots into Kansas City to take on Mahomes and the Chiefs, and Brees and the Saints host Goff and the Rams.
“We’ll see how it goes,” New England head coach Bill Belichick said. “We had a tremendous game with them here earlier. That was a long time ago. We’ll see where we are now, see where they are.”
New England hosted Kansas City on Oct. 14 and Brady passed for 340 yards and a touchdown in a 43-40 victory that was the Chiefs’ first loss of the season. Mahomes’ 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill tied it with 3:03 left, but Stephen Gostkowski kicked a winning 28-yard field goal as time expired.
“It’ll be a tough game,” Brady said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to go back there and play in a championship game and try to advance.”
New Orleans and Los Angeles had their own high-scoring affair Nov. 4. Wil Lutz’s 54-yard field gave the Saints a lead with 6:23 left, and Brees found Michael Thomas for a clinching 72-yard touchdown in a 45-35 victory.
“When we come out there, we feel like no one can stop us,” Thomas said of his connection with Brees. “We have a thing, and it’s hard for the other team to stop.”
The Saints averaged 31.5 points this season, ranking third in the NFL behind the Chiefs (35.3 points per game) and Rams (32.9) and ahead of the Patriots (27.3).
It’s the first time in the Super Bowl era that the NFL’s top four scoring offenses all reached the conference championship games.
New Orleans’ defense played a crucial role in its 20-14 win over Philadelphia in the divisional round Sunday. Marshon Lattimore had two interceptions, including one on the Eagles’ final possession, and the Saints erased an early 14-0 deficit.
“We were real calm and poised, and we knew we were going to get things done,” Brees said.
Los Angeles advanced by powering its way to a 30-22 win against Dallas on Saturday. C.J. Anderson had 123 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and Todd Gurley rushed for 115 more yards and another TD.
“Our sense of focus and the sense of urgency have gone up tremendously,” Rams guard Rodger Saffold said.
New England also showed off its rushing attack in a 41-28 win against the Chargers on Sunday. Sony Michel rushed for 129 yards and three TDs.
Kansas City is headed for its first AFC title game since January 1994 after rolling to a 31-13 victory over the Colts on Saturday.
“This is what we work for,” Kansas City linebacker Dee Ford said. “We just want to keep this thing rolling. Enjoy it now but keep it rolling.”