Dave Tuley, senior reporter at VSiN, joined the Post’s Bettor’s Guide for the 2018 NFL season. His handicapping pieces appear in VSiN’s online magazine, Point Spread Weekly.
Here are his predictions and analysis for Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, and the NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
AFC Championship line and prediction:
Patriots (+3) over CHIEFS: To be the champ, you have to beat the champ! I forgot that last week in taking the Los Angeles Chargers over the Patriots (two-time defending AFC champs), and it was clear Bill Belichick outclassed Anthony Lynn. The Chiefs are an even bigger challenge for The Hoodie, but I can’t help but think back to the earlier meeting on Oct. 14. The Patriots had a 24-9 halftime lead, and as spectacular as Patrick Mahomes was in rallying the Chiefs, we still had the feeling the Patriots would prevail — and they did, 43-40. Granted, this is in KC, but it’s going to be played in “New England weather,” so home-field advantage is minimal. And Chiefs coach Andy Reid has made it to only one Super Bowl (which he lost to Belichick).
NFC Championship line and prediction:
Rams (+3) over Saints: I have the Rams as the better team. With both teams at 13-4, the Rams have out-gained 12 of their 17 opponents while the Saints have out-gained just 9 of 17 (and one was the slight 487-483 edge in their 45-35 victory over the Rams, so that was really a coin-flip result). I was also more impressed last week with the Rams’ win over the Dallas Cowboys — and really thought the defense stepped up — while the Saints were life-and-death to get past the Eagles. Except for home field, all signs point to the Rams, who obviously showed they enjoyed playing on the fast track in the Superdome last time as well.
Last week: 0-2.