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NFL Matchups - Week CC Recap

Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome(New Orleans)Sun. 1-20 @ 3:05 pm ESTOver/Under: 57

   Weather

Los Angeles Rams 26  New Orleans Saints 23

Let’s get it out of the way… Congratulations to the Los Angeles Rams. They have had a wonderful season thus far and I believe that they have a great shot to take down the Patriots in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. They played an excellent game on Sunday afternoon and shocked the world by successfully going into the Superdome and taking down Drew Brees and Sean Payton – a place where they had previously been unbeaten in the playoffs.

With all of this being said however, the Saints got robbed. Actually, saying they got robbed doesn’t even really do it justice. The referee’s blatantly missed pass interference call on Nickell Robey-Coleman , with just 1:41 left on the clock, not only prevented the Saints from extending the potentially go-ahead touchdown drive to inside their opponents five yard line, but it more importantly disallowed them from killing the remaining clock to set up a game-winning chip shot field goal. Had the call been correctly made, the Saints would have been virtually guaranteed a victory. This game was stolen from them and there is nothing the NFL can do about it. As if we weren’t already there, the league is at the apex of an officiating crisis. It must be addressed going forward. We have reached a tipping point.

Rams

The numbers were decent, but his composure was even better. Jared Goff played one of his best career games on Sunday and he did it when it mattered most. Statistically, Goff threw for 297 yards and a touchdown, while he was sacked just once. He seemed alert and focused, while he stood strong in the pocket even with the pressure frequently bearing down on him. This performance was a huge step forward for him in his career progression.

While the Rams thrashed the Cowboys for 273 yards on the ground last week, the same success couldn’t be found against the Saints on Sunday. C.J. Anderson led the team with 44 yards on 16 carries, while Todd Gurley inexplicably had just 10 yards on four carries. For those playing in fantasy formats, at least Gurley managed to score a touchdown…

Through the air, the Rams were led by former Saints receiver Brandin Cooks , who caught seven passes on eight targets for 107 yards. Robert Woods caught six passes for 33 yards, Josh Reynolds caught four for 74, and while Tyler Higbee caught just four for 25, one of them went for the Rams only aerial touchdown on the day.

The Rams suffered no significant injuries in the contest. They should be at full strength for the Super Bowl.

Saints

Drew Brees did not play his best game on Sunday, as he managed just 249 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, however I can’t stress enough that he did more than enough to get the Saints the victory anyway. Unfortunately he couldn’t overcome the referees stealing the game from him.

On the ground, like the Rams, the Saints also struggled to get much going. Mark Ingram led the team with just 31 yards on nine carries, while Alvin Kamara managed just 15 yards on eight.

While he struggled to run the ball, Kamara at least managed to show up as a receiver. He led the entire game with his 11 catches, while he picked up 96 receiving yards in the process. Ted Ginn finished second on the team with 58 yards on three catches, while Michael Thomas was largely held in check with his mere four catches for 36 yards. Backup tight end Garrett Griffin and backup quarterback Taysom Hill caught the only two Saints touchdowns on the day.

The Saints lost tight end Josh Hill to a concussion in the first quarter

New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Venue: Arrowhead Stadium(Kansas City)Sun. 1-20 @ 6:40 pm ESTOver/Under: 56

   Weather

New England Patriots – 37       Kansas City Chiefs – 31

What a wild game. That was a fantastic effort from both teams. This is potentially one of the best playoff games of all time. It had everything and there was great story telling throughout. The Pats held the Chiefs scoreless in the first half, the Chiefs came back to take the lead, and it was back & forth the rest of the way. There were turnovers, nail-biting replays, streakers, clutch third-down conversions, this game had it ALL!

Last week the Patriots opened the game against the Chargers with a lengthy drive for a touchdown. Sunday night was no different. They started with a 15-play drive that took over eight minutes off the clock to open the game and gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead. On their next drive they drove right down the field for an 11-play drive that lasted nearly six minutes, but Tom Brady was picked off on a short pass over the middle as the Patriots were about to score. But the defense stepped up for New England in the first half. They held the Chiefs to zero points. In fact, New England recorded 16 first downs in the first half, and Kansas City ran just 16 total plays on offense. The Patriots dominated and limited the Chiefs to just 32 yards of offense in the first half.

The second half was a whole different story. Kansas City got the ball to start the half and they wasted no time making adjustments and putting points on the board. On 3rd & 2 at their own 34-yard line, Patrick Mahomes and Sammy Watkins connected for a big 54-yard pass to set the Chiefs up for a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Kelce. This cut the lead to just seven points for New England. The Patriots would add a field goal, but Kansas City would go on to counter with an early fourth quarter touchdown to cut the lead to three. With less than nine minutes to go the Chiefs would punt the ball to Julian Edelman . Edelman waved off his minutes to get away and not touch the ball, yet he made an attempt to scoop it up and it narrowly missed his fingertips. Originally ruled as a fumble recovery for Kansas City, replay showed from every angle, the football never touched Edelman’s hands. The ball was given back to New England, but as fate would have it, a pass from Brady went off Edelman’s fingertips and was picked off by Kansas City.

The Chiefs and Patriots would go on to trade touchdowns and with 2:03 to go and New England down 28-24, Tom Brady led New England on a phenomenal drive to put New England up 31-28 with 39 seconds to play. Fortunately for the Chiefs, that was plenty of time for Patrick Mahomes and Co. Mahomes needed just two quick plays to move the Chiefs into field goal range and Harrison Butker drilled a 39-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

If you watched the game, you got the sense that whoever won the coin toss would win the game. Fortunately for New England they have the GOAT of coin tosses, Matthew Slater . Slater called heads, the coin flipped heads, and the Patriots got the ball and they were not prepared to let the Chiefs offense get back on the field. Tom Brady was clutch when New England needed him most. In overtime he was 3-for-3 on third down and drove the Patriots down the field to set up a two-yard game winning run from Rex Burkhead . New England is going on to its ninth Super Bowl appearance in the Brady/Belichick era and their fourth appearance in the last five years.

For the Chiefs, they have a very very bright future ahead of them with Patrick Mahomes and it’s rumored he’ll be the first player in NFL history to lands a $200+ million dollar deal in a couple years. They’ll run into some issues with the salary cap if they want to keep Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill . But this offense is explosive and they’ll be a contender next season without a doubt.

 

New England Patriots

For Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, it was business as usual and the offense proved to be a great defense by keeping the Chiefs offense off the field. The Patriots got 36 first downs to Kansas City’s 18. New England was 13-of-19 on third down and they dominated time of possession by holding the ball for nearly 44 minutes including overtime. Brady was phenomenal on Sunday. His first interception was a pretty bad throw, but his second was tipped off the hands of Edelman, and a third potential interception also went off Rob Gronkowski ’s hands, but the play was called back due to a penalty on Kansas City. Brady completed 30-of-46 passes for 348 yards and a touchdown and he wasn’t sacked at all. He got the ball into tight windows and kept drives alive when it counted most. It was Tom Brady at his finest.

Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead each recorded a pair of touchdowns on the ground, with Burkhead running in the game winner. Michel finished with 113 of New England’s 176 rushing yards. The aerial attack revolved mostly around Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski . Edelman caught seven of his ten targets for 96 yards. Even after the botched punt debacle and the interception that went off his fingers, Brady didn’t shy away from one of his favorite targets. Rob Gronkowski caught six of eleven targets for 79 yards and was huge on third down. Phillip Dorsett caught Brady’s lone touchdown pass just before the end of the first half to put New England up 14-0.

Credit to the Patriots defense because holding the Chiefs to zero points in a half is no easy task. Sure the second half was a mess, but it could’ve been a lot worse in the first half. They held Kansas City to just 47 offensive plays for 290 yards, most of which came after halftime.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

It wasn’t pretty, but the Chiefs clawed their way back into this game. The offense was almost unrecognizable in the first half. They couldn’t generate any momentum against the new-found Patriots pass rush. Patrick Mahomes completed just 16-of-31 pass attempts for 295 yards, but he did throw three touchdowns. The running game was a big struggle for Kansas City Sunday night. Damien Williams found the end zone three times (twice through the air), but finished with ten carries for 30 yards.

The passing game was the bread & butter for the Chiefs, but not from the usual suspects. Typically a Bill Belichick team schemes to take away the opposing offense’s best positional player. Sammy Watkins caught four of his eight targets for 114 yards and he came up big when the Chiefs needed him most. But for Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill , they didn’t contribute as much. Tyreek Hill was targeted just three times on Sunday. THREE! And he turned it into just one big catch for 42 yards in the first half. Travis Kelce was heavily involved in the first half, but sort of disappeared in the second half. He finished with three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown, but on just five targets. Hill and Kelce combined for just eight targets. Even on 31 pass attempts from Mahomes, roughly just a quarter of them went to his two best targets.

The Chiefs defense did its absolute best to keep up with the Patriots on Sunday. But when they were on the field for twice as many plays as the offense was, they eventually got worn down and it showed in overtime. Reed Sorensen and Reggie Ragland both had strong games. They each recorded double-digit tackles and an interception. Because they were on the field so much the Chiefs defense ultimately surrendered over 500 yards of offense to New England and couldn’t get off the field in overtime.

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