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2019 NFL playoff predictions: Patriots and Chiefs will play a close AFC Championship Game

A look at the teams that will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt will survive the championship round.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Only four of 32 NFL teams are left standing in the race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and today two of them will advance to the Super Bowl. Today will certainly be a big day as the winners of the AFC and the NFC will be determined when each conference’s top two seeds face off:

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

But worry not about the outcome because we are here to tell you which teams will advance. Without a doubt. Book it. We are 100% confident in our choices — although we are not all on the same page as you can see. Anyway, here are the Pats Pulpit picks for this weekend’s slate of games:

Pats Pulpit Super Bowl predictions

Bernd Rich Alec Michael Matt Cody Doug Ryan K. Pat Ryan S. Chris PatrioticChief Consensus
Bernd Rich Alec Michael Matt Cody Doug Ryan K. Pat Ryan S. Chris PatrioticChief Consensus
Patriots Rams Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots (11:1)

According to our picks, we will get a Patriots vs. Saints Super Bowl in two weeks — a battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees. As can be seen, however, only pick is rather lopsided: New England’s game in Kansas City is projected to be a tight affair and our panel sees it the same way.

Let’s find out what the rationale behind the picks is.

Rams at Saints

Bernd Buchmasser: Despite only closely surviving the Eagles in the divisional round, I see the Saints advancing to the Super Bowl. They are just too well-rounded for a Rams team that while very good is a tad too inconsistent to go on the road and win.

Rich Hill: I think the Rams are a better offense, while the Saints have a better defense, and so with that in mind — and factoring in the quarterbacks — I’m leaning with Drew Brees and the defense. Saints win this one.

Alec Shane: LA has lost a bit of steam as of late, and while the Saints didn’t play their best football against the Eagles, they still did enough to win, and are unlikely to duplicate that Divisional Round performance.

Oliver Thomas: In the divisional round against Dallas, C.J. Anderson didn’t look like a back who’s on his third team since November. Todd Gurley, meanwhile, looked like Todd Gurley. But Saints’ defensive front allowed just 3.6 yards per rushing attempt in 2018 and hit home for 49 sacks. Will that persist in the absence of Sheldon Rankins? At the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, I think it will. Saints wideout Michael Thomas, who amassed 211 receiving yards against an Aqib Talib-less Rams secondary earlier this season, might not replicate that kind of showing Sunday. But it’s hard to bet against the 40-year-old Drew Brees finding him.

Matthew Rewinski: Things I did not know until just now: since Week 10, the Saints have led the NFL in sacks and takeaways, a couple of them courtesy of Eli Apple suddenly remembering how to football again as soon as he left New Jersey. And for as much as we love Brandin Cooks around these parts, Michael Thomas is man I’ll start betting against once it’s confirmed that he actually sleeps at night like a normal human. This game might end up being even more of a fireworks show than the main event on Sunday night, and like I said last week, I just don’t see New Orleans letting this one chance slip through their fingers again.

Doug Moore: Both teams have a ton of talent on offense with Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and a top-five offensive line against a team with Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and a top-five offensive line. The two keys here are that the Saints has a stronger defense than the Rams and are also playing at home. I think it’ll be an exciting matchup but I have the Saints coming out ahead in this one.

Ryan Keiran: I feel that the Rams have better too end talent, but I do not feel that the Rams are good enough to go on the road and beat the Saints in the Superdome. Patriots fans should be Rams fans for the early game come Sunday, although it will be a tall task to overcome

Pat Lane: Home field advantage is so huge in these big games, and the Saints are a different team in the dome. Rams have a ton of talent, but I don’t think it’s enough to put them over the top, because not only is the Saints offense better at home, but so is their defense.

Chris Blackey: This game has the capability of being a high scoring affair. I think the difference in this game will be the Rams front. I believe Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh disrupt the Saints enough winning a close one.

Patriots at Chiefs

Bernd Buchmasser: The Chiefs are really, really good and the Patriots have been really, really inconsistent so far this season. So why do I still pick New England to win? The coaching staff and the roster’s overall experience will be enough to catapult them to their third straight Super Bowl in what projects to be a tight AFC title game.

Rich Hill: I’m picking the Chiefs because they’re a different defensive team at home and the Patriots have been awful on the road. I’d love to be wrong.

Alec Shane: My gut tells me that the Chiefs are going to win this game, and much like George Costanza, my initial instinct is almost always wrong. Tommy B seems more pissed off than usual this postseason, and the team really seems to have bought into the underdog role. They’ll need to play their best game of the year and their margin for error is zero — but this has been a most unusual season, going all the way back to April, so why not ride this wave of unpredictability?

Oliver Thomas: The Patriots haven’t won a road playoff game since January 2007. They are, by the bettor’s definition of the term, an underdog with Tom Brady at QB for the first time in 67 games. And they find themselves at Arrowhead, where on a Monday night in September 2014, James White caught the first three passes of his NFL career and nothing else notable occurred. That said, this isn’t the pick I would’ve made before what transpired versus the Chargers. And Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill could quickly make this pick a foolish one, too. The latter has caught 14 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns through two Patriots meetings.

Matthew Rewinski: Remember the glory days of the early Patriots dynasty and their strategy for dealing with a hotshot field general by the name of Peyton Manning?

Point #1: Keep his butt on the bench.

Point #2: Refer to Point #1

Even though we’re not going to get the ARCTIC BLAST we were promised, the longer the Patriots can keep Patrick Mahomes and his all-guns-infinite-ammo-cheat-code offense off the field, the better. Especially for the grizzled vets on the defense like Hightower and McCourty, this ain’t their first rodeo containing a QB with wheels and a laser rocket arm, and while keeping contain is going to be key, Brian Flores proved last time KC was in town that he was more than happy to fire some heat and even some disguised blitzes to keep Patrick Mahomes from getting as comfy as you and I will be on our respective sofas/barstools.

And as for that defense that KC’s had that led the NFL in sacks... if this offensive line and a solid game plan can put the cuffs on Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chiefs secondary has legit kept other teams in games this season. Don’t be surprised if Josh McDaniels has the keys to carving it up a second time.

Doug Moore: I picked both KC & NE to lose last week, so this will be interesting to predict. In regards to overall roster talent, I believe the Patriots have a slight edge. But the Patriots are coming into Kansas City with a 3-5 away record this year. And despite it being an Andy Reid-led team, they won convincingly against Indianapolis last weekend. And after seeing the Patriots barely win (43-40) at home against the Chiefs earlier this season, it has the makings of another close, high-scoring affair. In the end, New England hasn’t won an away playoff game since 2006. I see the Chiefs heading to the Super Bowl.

Ryan Keiran: I have officially abstained from picking the Chiefs-Patriots game, because my mind has been an endless loop of advantages that will never end until the game starts. The Patriots have the matchup advantages and the ability to limit the Chiefs offense better than anyone, but they haven’t looked like the borderline elite defense we’ve seen at Gillette when they go on the road. The Chiefs have a high powered offense and an incredible home field advantage, but it’s playoff Andy Reid and a QB in his first AFCCG while facing a team that gave him trouble last time they met. Winning on the road is incredibly hard in the playoffs and the Patriots struggled to do so even in the regular season, but the Patriots aren’t your normal playoff team and the Chiefs aren’t your normal home field advantage. My brain says Chiefs, my gut says Patriots, so I’ll let the play on the field do all the talking. This should go down as the best of the 8 straight AFCCG’s the Patriots have appeared in.

Pat Lane: I picked the Chiefs earlier this week, and my heart has been slowly overtaking my head since, but it’s not enough for me to take the Patriots. The reason is simple, they’re on the road. Throw out their terrible 3-5 record on the road this season, Brady is a different QB on the road in the playoffs, and the team is a completely different on the road. Two things that I’m fighting against are: they are playing the underdog card right now. Playing a chip on their shoulder is dangerous for any opponent, especially with the talent the Patriots have. Second is the fact that the last time they were successful on the road, it was because of their defense and running game, this team has been very good on defense and running the ball, that could lead to a Patriots win. But I still don’t think it’s enough on the road to beat the Chiefs.

Chris Blackey: I would feel much better if this game was being played at the Razor. The Pats’ road woes are a big concern in this game, but they’ve latched onto the underdog mantra. Would anybody be surprised if Bill Belichick had another surprise for a first-year starting quarterback in his second playoff game? I’m going with the Pats late in this one. I could see this going either way, but a motivated Brady is a dangerous one.