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Kibbles and Picks 2019 – Conference Championships

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All told, it wasn’t that tough to predict what was going to happen in the divisional round. The top seeds won and advanced. Try as we might to talk ourselves into thinking otherwise (like I did with Philadelphia and Stella did with Indianapolis), more often than not, it’s a pair of one- and two-seeds playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Stella and I both went 3-1 in our divisional picks. We were both right on the Rams and the Patriots, while I had Kansas City and she had New Orleans. This leaves me with a lead of a single game.

However, as we differ on both conference championship games, the possibility exists for her to leapfrog me and surge into the lead going into the Super Bowl.

In the NFC, I’m going with the New Orleans Saints to win at home. I’ve loved what I’ve seen from the Saints so far – they’ve shown again and again that they have the pieces to win it all. Drew Brees has had one of the best seasons in a career full of great ones, throwing to a guy like Michael Thomas (probably the best wide receiver in the game today) and handing/dumping off to Alvin Kamara (one of the 10 best offensive weapons out there). All they need to do is hold up on defense and they’ll win in a walk.

Stella doesn’t believe it will be quite so easy. While she recognizes the quality of the Saints, she also thinks that the Rams are particularly well-suited to deal with them. She believes they’ll get the running game going – not like they did against Dallas, but well enough – and control the clock, keeping Brees and company off the field. She’s also high on the Rams front four and expects them to get decent penetration and harass Brees throughout the day. She’s betting that it comes down to one or two mistakes – and that the Saints will make them.

Over in the AFC, I have once again followed my heart, picking the Patriots to win on the road in Kansas City. While this isn’t the strongest New England team we’ve seen, they have an undeniable tendency to rise to the occasion. I’m betting they do that again. Tom Brady’s not the QB he was a decade ago, but he’s plenty good. Julian Edelman played like the Edelman of old against the Chargers; he’ll keep it up. Ditto Sony Michel, who will be a force on the ground against an iffy Chiefs defensive unit. The Patriots secondary will have to step up against the KC aerial attack; I think they’ll do just enough to help ensure the win.

Stella, on the other paw, is breaking her dad’s heart. She’s picking the Chiefs to win at home. She loves the Pats, but looking at that Chiefs offense – probable MVP Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, receiver Tyreek Hill and on and on and on – she feels like she has to go with KC. She thinks they’ll have little trouble scoring against the Patriots, though she also acknowledges that the Pats will probably move the ball pretty easily as well. Her take is that it’s going to be a shootout, with both teams scoring early and often. However, she thinks that Kansas City’s big play capability – which far outstrips that of New England – will be what winds up making the difference.

And there you have it. The last Kibbles and Picks feature for this NFL season. Stella will contribute her picks to our annual Super Bowl preview cover story, but as far as standalone stuff – this is it. Here’s to another great run, one where I got trounced in the regular season (again) and might just squeak out a postseason win.

Stella says so long and hopes you’ll join us again in the fall.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Sunday, January 20

LA Rams at NEW ORLEANS

NEW ENGLAND at Kansas City

Divisional Round record: 3-1

Postseason record: 5-3

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STELLA’S PICKS

Sunday, January 20

LA RAMS at New Orleans

New England at KANSAS CITY

Divisional Round record: 3-1

Postseason record: 4-4

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