You know the saying ‘past performance is no guarantee of future results’? That disclaimer is included in every disclosure you’ll see in the investment world, but it might apply even more to the NFL playoffs.

So far, the postseason has been a Bizarro World from what we witnessed in the regular season — at least when it comes to previous meetings between teams. In the wild card round, the Chargers avenged a Week 15 loss to the Ravens by dominating them in Baltimore, the Colts throttled a Texans team that had played them tough in two AFC South affairs and Dallas knocked off a Seahawks squad they lost to in Week 3. And last week in the divisional round, a late interception thrown by Nick Foles may have been all that prevented the Eagles from stunning the Saints in New Orleans, the same stadium where Philly was blown out 48-7 a couple of months earlier.

I point this trend out because the two championship games on Sunday feature rematches of some of the best games during the regular season. New England handed the Chiefs their first loss of the campaign in a Week 6 thriller in Foxboro on Sunday Night Football, and the Saints did the same to the Rams a few weeks later in New Orleans. The other big thing that these two games had in common was the offensive fireworks, as each contest had at least 80 points scored. I’m guessing these previous meetings will have everyone running to the window to bet the Over once again.

Before you do, just remember: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. (I hope that rule isn’t the case for these NFL predictions, however, as we look to improve on a 10-5 run since the start of Week 15.) With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper on each of these conference title affairs to see where we should be investing our money.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from at 8:30 p.m eastern on January 16, 2019. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

1. NFC Championship Game: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. eastern)

Again, the knee-jerk instinct when you hear the Rams and Saints mentioned in the same sentence is to want to bet the Over. Just a couple of months ago on this same field, New Orleans jumped out to a huge first-half lead, then held off a Rams comeback attempt down the stretch to pull out a 45-35 victory. The two quarterbacks combined for nearly 750 passing yards and the game had nearly gone over the 57.5-point total by halftime (when New Orleans led 35-17).

These are also two franchises best known for their offenses. LA Rams has scored at least 30 points in 13 of its 17 games this year, helping the Rams overcome a defense that hasn’t really lived up to preseason expectations. Meanwhile, the Saints have been a point-scoring machine throughout the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era, often out of necessity because of a defense that has consistently been among the league’s worst. The data backs up the abilities of these two offenses as well: LA is second in yards and points scored, third in rushing yards and fifth in passing yards this year, while the Saints are third in points, sixth in rushing and eighth in total yards.

However, when you dig a bit deeper into the statistics, you’ll notice a couple of trends that have stayed under the radar recently. Let’s start with the Rams and discuss just how much better their defense has been on the road this year. When LA has been the visitor, they’ve allowed more than 20 points in a game just twice — at New Orleans and at Seattle). Five times, they allowed 16 points or less in enemy territory, including a pair of times when they allowed 10 or less.

While the Rams have been at their defensive best when on the road, New Orleans has actually been rock-solid regardless of the field it’s been playing on lately. After a flat start last week in which they allowed the Eagles to score a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, the Saints defenders held Philadelphia scoreless the rest of the way, icing the victory with an interception at the two-minute warning. It also marked the seventh time in nine games that the Saints have allowed 17 points or fewer, and you can put an asterisk beside one of the times they allowed more points than that — a meaningless loss to Atlanta in the regular-season finale.

I’m clearly making a case for the Under in this ballgame, but what about the 45-35 game they played earlier this year? Well, there were a couple of circumstances in that regular-season matchup that may have contributed to a higher-scoring game: the Rams were in a tough situational spot playing their fourth road game in a five-week span, and the early lead the Saints jumped out to forced LA to play at a faster pace the rest of the way. Things certainly settled down in the second half, when the teams combined to score just 21 points in the first 26 minutes before the Saints put the game away on a 74-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Michael Thomas.

Betting Prediction

The Under is 5-1 in LA’s last six games on the road, and 6-2 in New Orleans’ last eight overall. With so much on the line, it’s quite possible that both teams come out tight offensively and it’s also quite possible to see the team with the late lead trying to run out the clock on the ground. Finally, like I pointed out last week when successfully backing the Under between Indianapolis and Kansas City, this high total means that each team could score close to 30 points and we could still cash an Under ticket.

I’ll grab the Under 57 here as I see the Saints winning a 27-24 type of contest.

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2. AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 6:40 p.m. eastern)

If you were one of the many who doubted the Patriots last week, you certainly got burned. Count me in for some aloe treatment, even though I went a bit more conservative with my New England fade last week and teased the Chargers up to +10 instead of taking LA on the spread. Technically, the Chargers only missed covering that +10 teaser by a field goal, succumbing 41-28. But if you watched that game at all, you know that 13-point final margin of victory was incredibly misleading. New England absolutely dominated the Chargers from the opening whistle. In fact, CBS aired a graphic late in the first half detailing how the Chargers had as many first downs at that point (five) as the Patriots had touchdowns.

That incredible performance by New England, combined with how many bettors lost betting against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, has the Patriots betting bandwagon back over capacity going into this one. Kansas City is just a 3-point favorite on its home field, matching the smallest amount of points the Chiefs have been favored by at Arrowhead all season. Part of that is the New England aura (this is the first time in 67 games with Brady under center that the Patriots have been an underdog), part of that is how great New England looked last week, and part of that is how many of us are skeptical of the Chiefs’ ability to exorcise the ghosts of past playoff failures and avoid a chokejob with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. While each of those narratives may seem legitimate at first glance, allow me to shoot some holes in each of them with some cold hard facts.

First, New England’s streak of being favored shouldn’t have anything to do with this matchup, since the Patriots aren’t nearly as good these days as they’ve been over the past four years. Gronk is a shadow of his former self as a receiving threat, the defense might be the weakest Belichick has had in the past 10 years, and even Brady has shown his age at times. The Pats have also been roadkill on the highway this season, going 3-5 both against the spread and straight-up (including blowout no-shows at Jacksonville, Tennessee and Detroit).

Second (and I’m kicking myself for not fully appreciating this before kickoff of last week’s game), the Chargers were in a horrific situational spot against New England. It was LA’s third straight road game and its second straight early start on the east coast, meaning the Chargers players had been flying back and forth across the country for nearly the past month. And while the Chargers were sweating out a victory over the Ravens in the wild card round, Brady and the Patriots had their feet up relaxing, nursing any nagging injuries and coming up with a game plan to shred the Chargers defense. To make things worse, LA came out with the exact same defensive back-heavy game plan that it used to beat Baltimore, and Brady picked apart the soft zone with the precision of a surgeon. The bottom line is that the Patriots aren’t that much better than the Chargers: a combination of factors favoring New England and hurting LA simply made the Pats look that much better last week.

Finally, let’s address the Chiefs, a franchise that is fully deserving of any skepticism you may have when it comes to their playoff potential. With an honorable mention to the Houston Texans and perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals, I can’t think of any other team that consistently posts strong regular seasons, then flames out in the playoffs. KC’s miserable postseason history dates back long before Andy Reid became their coach, but Reid’s got some demons of his own to overcome after falling short in big games during his time in Philadelphia. That said, this sure looks like a new era of Chiefs football, and maybe it was the swagger of Patrick Mahomes that finally tipped the scales. Mahomes just doesn’t seem to be fazed by anything, and the symbolism of him pushing a Chiefs ball-carrier across the goalline for a touchdown last week wasn’t lost on Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth during the NBC broadcast. And as impressive as the Chiefs were in building an early 17-0 lead, the thing that impressed me most was how KC players responded to a blocked punt touchdown by Indianapolis late in the first half that made the score 17-7. Instead of panicking and tightening up from fear of choking, the Chiefs scored a touchdown on their very next possession, calming the crowd with a 10-play drive to regain control of the game.

Betting Prediction

Of Kansas City’s 13 wins this season, all but one of them came by more than a field goal (and nine by double digits). At home this season, the Chiefs have outscored their opponents by an average of nearly 17 points per game en route to an 8-1 overall record. Meanwhile, the Patriots have lost five of eight on the road this year, and two of those three road wins came over the Bills (when the thousand-year-old Derek Anderson was Buffalo’s quarterback) and Jets. The bottom line is that Kansas City -3 is a huge bargain, one that doesn’t even come close to reflecting how much better the Chiefs have been at home than the Pats have been on the road this year. Is it possible that Brady and Belichick have another trick up their sleeve and another trip to the Super Bowl in store, or that the Chiefs melt down once again on the big stage? Absolutely. But at this short price, I’ll happily pay to see it.

Give me Kansas City -3 (-110) here, but I’ll also be looking to bet the Chiefs on some alternate lines at plus money (Bodog was offering Kansas City -9.5 at +195 odds at the time of writing, for example) as I see the potential for a bloodbath.

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