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    The New Orleans Saints earned a heart-racing win over Philadelphia last week Marcus Davenport Jersey White , continuing the Saints’ Super Bowl hopes and putting Who Dat Nation in position to celebrate on the best weekend in sports, NFL Conference Championship weekend.Now they host the Los Angeles Rams for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl!The NFL’s final four take the stage to determine who moves on to Super Bowl LIII.The NFC title matchup features the two best teams in the conference all season, while the AFC title matchup features the highest-scoring team in the league against the two-time defending conference champions.With the Super Bowl on the line, we will see these teams give all they have!Last week I went 3-1I told you so: Patriots over Chargers!What do I know: Colts over Chiefs?CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS#2 Los Angeles Rams at #1 New Orleans SaintsSunday, January 20th – 2:05pm CST – FOXThe Saints will represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIII on February 3rd.Drew Brees and Sean Payton are 6-0 all-time at home in the playoffs, a record that is crucial at this point.Homefield advantage, which the Saints will take full advantage of this Sunday, is paramount in the NFC Championship.There is a clear precedent for the importance for homefield advantage in this game.Home teams have won the last five NFC title matchups.Simply look at the past three NFC Championship Games to see the impact for the home team:2016 NFC Championship: Carolina 49 – Arizona 15 Arizona had the NFL’s top-ranked offense and ranked 2nd in the NFL in points.They mustered just 15 points in a 35 point loss on the road.2017 NFC Championship: Atlanta 44 – Green Bay 21 Green Bay was 4th in the NFL in points and were led, as always, by Aaron Rodgers who had a career performance the week before in Dallas.Rodgers and company lost by 23 points on the road, in a game they trailed by 31 points in the 3rd quarter.2018 NFC Championship: Philadelphia 38 – Minnesota 7Minnesota had the NFL’s top-ranked defense and ranked 1st in the NFL in fewest points allowed.The Vikings were even granted a “miracle” the week before, but what did that get them, other than this lopsided beating.They lost by 31 points on the road in a game they gave up 38 consecutive points after scoring the first touchdown on the road.***As these last three years have proven, when you are at home in the NFC Championship, you have a significant advantage, no matter how good the opponent, how outstanding their offense, or dominating their defense.Each of these games were predicted by experts and analysts to be close games, yet look at those results.A two game bias is clouding the popular opinion of this game.The Rams shut down Dallas’ offense and ran all over their defense, clearly they are the dominant team this week.The Saints struggled to beat the #6 seed and failed to score 48 points like the last meeting.This is a team clearly on a steep decline.These are the prevailing “hot takes” circulating as the week of overanalyzing had dragged on.The Saints are not judged on wins, grit, or efficiency, they are judged on style points.Just because the Saints didn’t score style points last week doesn’t mean this team is incapable of making a definitive statement against a very good opponent.If there was a time to be wary of Sean Payton’s Saints, it’s a situation like the Philadelphia game a week ago.When they are facing a team they dominated by 41 earlier in the year, a team they were huge favorites against, a team many suggested were lucky to even have made the playoffs.Those are the games you see the slow starts.Despite it all Marshon Lattimore Jersey White , the game was won, the offense ground Philly into submission, and the defense dominated for the final three quarters of the game. This is not a team “on the decline” but one that can win in more ways than about any team remaining.If there is ever a time to ride with Sean Payton’s Saints, it’s a situation like this Sunday.When they are facing a team they have been positioned with atop the standings all season long.A team many consider the best in the league, and a team supposedly primed to win on the road.The Saints thrive in these situations, in the Superdome, and have come away so many times with not just a win, but a statement.This Sunday will be the Saints statement.Scoff if you like, but the Saints will not be denied.No, this game will not be like their regular season matchup.There will be no Rams comeback, no rally.You know those Saints games in the Superdome we’ve all seen, those games where everything is clicking, and the opponent almost doesn’t matter?This will be one of those performances.This will be a dominant home performance by the Saints, just like the past three NFC title games.Homefield means everything.This moment is why the Saints fought so hard this season to secure it.The Superdome and the fans within it will make all the difference in the world.Pick: SaintsFinal Score: 42-17***#2 New England Patriots at #1 Kansas City ChiefsSunday, January 20th – 5:40pm CST – CBSThe Chiefs against arguably any other team in the AFC would be overwhelming favorites in this game, but there’s something about the Patriots.New England is always here, always in this position.For eight consecutive years now, the Patriots are in the AFC Championship Game.A huge factor in this game, much like the NFC title game, is homefield advantage.Just like the NFC, home teams have won the last five AFC title matchups.This will be the first-ever AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, and the home crowd will be a huge factor for the Chiefs.As great as New England has been in AFC title games, most of their success in the Brady/Belichick era has taken place at home.Tom Brady is 2-3 all-time in the AFC Championship Game on the road, including 0-2 during this eight-year stretch.Temperatures in the low 20’s won’t be a major factor for either team as they are both cold-weather towns, but crowd noise working for, rather than against , the young quarterback, will be a huge factor for Kansas City.If this game were at Gillette Stadium, it would still be close, but New England would likely be the play, but it’s not.This will be a very thrilling game.The veteran, future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Brady will not be shaken or affected by the hostile environment, but the young, inexperienced quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be lifted by it.This will come down to the very end, and Kansas City will get the late score to send them to the Super Bowl for the first time since the late, great Hank Stram matriculated down their sideline.Pick: ChiefsFinal Score: 34-32***Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, your potential conference champions! The Saints are one win away from the Super Bowl!Leave us your picks, insight, and comments below! By the time every NFL team has played eight games, there are some heavily established favorites for The Associated Press NFL awards that are handed out on Super Bowl eve.Not this year.MVP? Lots of candidates 鈥?and not just quarterbacks.Coach of the Year? Nearly every division has a contender.Comeback Player? Some likely Hall of Famers are in the mix there.So the AP polled a few of the 50 voters for the awards, including genuine Hall of Famer James Lofton. The theme was clear: There isn’t much clarity as we head into the final eight weeks of the schedule.MVPThis honor has gone to a quarterback the past five seasons and 10 of 11. Two running backs, Adrian Peterson in 2012 and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, broke through the QB domination in the past dozen years.Lofton and some others select Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.“So good you just can’t take your eyes off of him,” the CBS analyst says.“Maybe this opinion changes next week, given the stellar competition that includes (Todd) Gurley and (Drew) Brees,” adds USA Today’s Jarrett Bell. “Maybe not, as the kid keeps showing up. A first-year starter as quarterback? Hey, Mahomes is like the new Kurt Warner.”Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News opts for Brees. Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk prefers Gurley.Don’t forget about Tom Brady, Adam Thielen or Philip Rivers, and perhaps even a defensive force such as J.J. Watt.COACHAnother wide-open field headed by Womens Marshon Lattimore Jersey , according to Jenny Vrentas of Monday Morning Quarterback, Kansas City‘s Andy Reid.“I selected Andy Reid … for his ability to seamlessly transition from Alex Smith to Mahomes,” Vrentas explains. “He’s been so invested in Mahomes’ development that he sits with him on the bench in between offensive series, going over what they see and how they’ll attack the opponent next. Reid has demonstrated an ability to keep his offense fresh and tailored to his players, updating his West Coast system with spread concepts pulled from the college ranks.”Bob Glauber of Newsday points to last year’s winner, Sean McVay of the Rams.“He’s one of the brightest minds in the game, and at 32, is proving not only to be a brilliant play caller, but an exceptional leader as well,” Glauber says.Not far behind in our little poll: the Saints‘ Sean Payton, the Texans‘ Bill O’Brien, the Bears‘ Matt Nagy, and the Chargers‘ Anthony Lynn, whose team “plays a road game every week,” Lofton notes.COMEBACK PLAYERRarely has there been such an impressive group vying for an award no one really wants to win considering the implications of a comeback.From Watt to Peterson to Aaron Rodgers, from Andrew Luck to Carson Wentz to Deshaun Watson, from Odell Beckham Jr. to Richard Sherman 鈥?WOW!“It’s either Andrew Luck or Watt,” says Williams, “but Watt has returned to being one of the best at his position. He is playing at an All-Pro and Pro Bowl level. Luck is not one of the top-five quarterbacks in the NFL and maybe not in the top 10.”Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports goes for the Colts quarterback.“Can’t imagine the frustration he’s faced,” Adelson says. “A pro’s pro.”Vrentas picks Watt.“The surgery Watt had last October to put his leg back together after a tibial plateau fracture was so complicated that the surgeons couldn’t even be certain that it would work, and that his leg would be able to bear the full weight of his body while running full speed,” she explains. “Watt, who has nine sacks in nine games, was undeterred. He wasn’t back to full strength in the season opener but has steadily gotten better each week, a scary thought for opponents.”OFFENSIVE PLAYERAnother free-for-all, with Gurley Alvin Kamara Jersey White , Mahomes, Thielen, Brees, Michael Thomas and James Conner getting consideration.“Before it’s done, he could wind up as MVP,” Bell says of Gurley, his choice in this category. “Ditto for Brees. Running backs don’t get the same love as quarterbacks in the pass-centric environment of the NFL. But if Gurley breaks LaDainian Tomlinson’s single-season TD record and the Rams keep winning big, people will have to take notice. Then again, Brees has a few records and has never been MVP.”Domowitch, a Brees supporter for MVP, puts Mahomes here. So does Williams.DEFENSIVE PLAYERThis category could be a two-horse race between a pair of thoroughbreds previously honored with the award: Aaron Donald and Watt.“Now that’s a man who don’t need no stinking training camp,” Bell says of Donald.Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports prefers Donald, as well.“A game wrecker on every down,” Adelson says.Adds Glauber: “Donald is a disruptive force in the middle and already has 10 sacks. The only problem for him 鈥?and the Rams 鈥?is that teams will often go to great lengths to shut him down. Thus, the constant double teams he has to fight through.”Lofton likes what Khalil Mack has done in Chicago: “Mack turned the Bears from pretenders to contenders.” But this train could be a runaway for Donald and Mack.OFFENSIVE ROOKIENo contest.“He’s the only good thing going for an awful Giants team,” Glauber says of Giants RB Saquon Barkley. “Until the Giants figure out their quarterback situation, he’ll be wasted in this offense.”But not lost in the awards prognostications.“On pace for more than 2,000 total yards 鈥?on a bad team,” Adelson notes.DEFENSIVE ROOKIEChargers safety Derwin James has gotten lots of love, but there’s no runaway leader.“Darius Leonard and Denzel Ward make this an interesting race for the award down the stretch,” Williams says.Glauber leans to Leonard: “Halfway through the season, he not only led all NFL rookies with 88 tackles, he led all NFL players in that category. He also has four sacks and three forced fumbles and has already won defensive rookie of the week honors twice.”

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