My Super Bowl offers a great redemption story, pairing two teams that both came out of last year’s conference championship Sunday thinking they should have won. The Saints are playing like the best team in the NFC and I don’t care if the third seed gives them a tougher road to travel. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are playing great on both sides of the ball. Last year everything looked so easy for them; I like that this year they feel a little more battle-tested. The Ravens are great, but if any team is equipped to hang with them in a shootout, it’s Kansas City. Remember how aggressive John Harbaugh was against the Chiefs in the regular season, now bring on the rematch. Patrick Mahomes vs. Drew Brees has the potential to be a classic Super Bowl, and Andy Reid finally gets his ring when the better team prevails.
Super Bowl LIV
Chiefs -3 vs. Saints: Sun., Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
Epic matchup between two great offenses -- hopefully the weather in Miami cooperates! -- with the Saints returning to the scene of the crime 10 years since they won their first Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Brees and Sean Payton, it’s time for Andy Reid to win his. The oft-maligned time manager comes through with a title thanks to Patrick Mahomes and a solid defensive performance from the Chiefs as Kansas City brings home the championship.
PROJECTED SCORE: Chiefs 31, Saints 28
Super Bowl LIV
The Saints strike first when Janoris (Jackrabbit) Jenkins, with teammate Eli Apple in the men’s room, baits Mahomes into a Pick 6 and lifts up his jersey to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with FORGETTLEMAN. Chiefs safety Tyrann Matthieu, LSU’s old Honey Badger whose first NFL interception came against Brees, counters with a Pick 6 of his own. But then Mahomes and Brees engage in a shootout pitting Thomas against Tyreek Hill and Kelce against Jared Cook. A brief spasm of defense — Terrell Suggs sacks Brees and Cam Jordan sacks Mahomes — is forgotten when Taysom Hill takes a shotgun snap and throws a 10-yard TD pass to Brees to win it.
Saints 27, Chiefs 23
16 Juan Thornhill
Thornhill was one of the most consistent rookies this season. He is a very reliable tackler and he displayed outstanding range. Unfortunately, he won’t be available for the Chiefs in the postseason after tearing his ACL in Week 17.
“The variety of ways of winning is the biggest thing,” Mahomes said. “We’ve won games obviously putting up points and doing those things this year, but we’ve also won games when the defense has stepped up and controlled games for us. For us, it’s about when you get to the playoffs not every game is the same, and we’ve found ways to win in different ways.”
2. Patrick Mahomes
Parr: Sure, Mahomes didn’t slay it to the level everyone has come to expect during the season’s final eight weeks. His 264.4 pass yards per game, 11:4 TD-to-INT ratio and 97.6 rating during that stretch are pedestrian by his standards, but let’s not forget what the reigning MVP is capable of. In the history of the game, no QB has been better through his first three NFL seasons (he ranks first in pass yards, yards per attempt, pass TD percentage and passer rating over that span). Kansas City’s QB1 had a rating above 110 in two of his last three games -- he clearly has been better the further removed he is from the knee and ankle injuries that played a huge role in his midseason lull. Mahomes might be rounding back into peak form at just the right time.
2. Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs’ defense played a substantial role in their 7-1 run to finish the season, but Mahomes was his usual brilliant self. The touchdowns might’ve dried up a bit, but it’s not like he was going to throw for 50 touchdowns again. Mahomes completed nearly the exact same percentage of his passes as last season, he cut his interception percentage in half, and even though his average yards per attempt fell by half a yard, he still finished the year ranked fourth in YPA. He also ranked third in both DYAR and DVOA, and second in total QBR (only Jackson had him beat).
TE: Travis Kelce: Not as flashy as some of his teammates, but a key cog in the Chiefs’ offense.
Around the NFL
Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne were named finalists Thursday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 in their first year of eligibility. Five other former NFL greats made their first appearance as finalists.
Safety LeRoy Butler (Packers 1990-2001), wide receiver Torry Holt (Rams 1999-2008; Jaguars 2009), linebacker Sam Mills (Saints 1986-94; Panthers 1995-97), linebacker Zach Thomas (Dolphins 1996-2007; Cowboys 2008) and defensive tackle Bryant Young (49ers 1994-2007) were also named finalists for the first time, though all five previously had been eligible.
“Sam was a wonderful guy,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said in a statement. “We got to know him as both a player and a coach. As our coach, he had great success and took us to the Super Bowl. He was friends with everyone here, both during his tenure as head coach and afterwards. We not only liked him, we admired him as a man. He had a great generosity of spirit and lived his life trying to help others. We express our condolences to Jane and his children Zak and Kerry.”
This one is easy. It’s clearly Watson, who’s going to have to make plays with his legs at various times to help the Texans get through this Bills defense. I do not trust Bill O’Brien, nor the run game, and I believe the Bills won’t be able to score much against the Texans. So it comes down to their quarterback playing like expected.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
But should the Tennessee Titans win — a 32% chance — they’ll go on the road to play the Baltimore Ravens; we know this because the Titans will have the lowest-remaining seed and the Ravens will have the highest-remaining seed.
Should that happen, the next team in line to play the Chiefs will be the Houston Texans, who have a 62% chance to win their game against the Buffalo Bills. This means the chance the Chiefs will face the Texans is 32% (the chance the Titans win) multiplied by 62% (the chance the Texans win). That’s 19.8%, which we’ll round to 20%.
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