We’ve done an exaggerated version of the NFL’s annual dance this season: explosive scoring early, followed by the rise of defensive football.
This is 2018, though. Things are different.
With New Orleans’ win over Philadelphia, the league’s top four scoring offenses all found themselves still alive heading into Championship Weekend. It’s no coincidence those four teams also double as each of the conference’s top two seeds.
Yes, it’s No. 1 vs. No. 2, times two. And if their earlier meetings are any indicator, you better bring your track spikes.
New England and Kansas City tussled in Foxborough in a Sunday night thriller that produced 83 total points and ended on a game-winning field goal. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes went punch for punch in that one, until a few missed swings by Mahomes ended up leaving the Chiefs to get knocked out. They’ll meet again, this time in Kansas City.
The Chiefs spent much of the season as the model franchise in terms of offensive innovation, led by sage playcaller Andy Reid and the new sensation Mahomes, who morphed into an MVP candidate in just one season of work. That didn’t change Saturday when the Chiefs took down the Colts, 31-13.
While the Chiefs maintain their cruising altitude, the Patriots are reaching their own new height. Consider: A New England offense that averaged 393.4 yards per game and 27.3 points just dropped 41 points and 498 yards on the Los Angeles Chargers, the No. 9 defense in the NFL in yards per game allowed. Their running game racked up 155 yards and four touchdowns. New England can beat you in a variety of ways.
The answer? Kansas City’s strategy employed in its Divisional Round win over the Colts, who were similarly productive and boasted a better offensive line that was overwhelmed on one side by the Chiefs‘ pass rush.
In the other matchup, you have the Rams and Saints, who put up just as many points (80 combined) in their exciting regular-season meeting, but were limited to 50 in their separate Divisional Round contests. No matter, though: Each team was in the top three in points per game, top eight in total yards per game. top six in rushing yards per game and top seven in third down percentage. The Rams just racked up 273 yards of rushing in their win over the Cowboys. Michael Thomas exploded for 171 yards and a touchdown Sunday versus the Eagles.
They’re meeting again in a domed stadium.
Let the scoring continue.