Will Mahomes, Brees meet in Tampa?

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You hear it often during the NFL’s regular season, a preview of the Super Bowl in a regular season game.

During the Super Bowl era, it’s happened 13 times, the last coming during the 2011 season, when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in both the regular season and the Super Bowl. It’s only happened three times this century, with the Giants and Patriots also meeting twice in 2007, and the Rams and Patriots playing two times in 2001.

Considering we are deep into the 2020 campaign, and both the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs are playing their best football right now, it wouldn’t shock me to see these two in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

The defending champion Chiefs are 12-1 and are atop the AFC, poised to clinch the No. 1 seed. The Saints (10-3) have the same record as Green Bay but check in at No. 2 because the Packers won a head-to-head clash in Week 3.

I know New Orleans is fresh off a frustrating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but it won’t take my attention away from nine straight wins after the loss to Green Bay. Not to mention it found a way to shore up a defense that was allowing 28.1 points through seven games, and has now given up 11.3 points over its last six.

The Saints are a well-balanced team on both sides of the ball, ranking 13th with 4,808 yards this season, and second in the NFL having given up 3,879 yards.

Kansas City rolls into the Big Easy riding an eight-game win streak and arguably the best offense in football. It’s hard to find a major offensive statistical category the Chiefs are not ranked in the top three. It will most certainly be the best offense the Saints have faced this season. And knowing the Pittsburgh Steelers are on their heels in the AFC, despite two straight losses, the Chiefs will have the pedal depressed in this one, looking to make a statement and keep their groove flowing with the playoffs right around the corner.

So how do you handicap a game like this?

The first thing I did was run the numbers through a spreadsheet program I designed years ago. Very generic version of what the famed Computer Boys did decades ago, but one that gives me an idea of value underdogs that should win outright. It also lends insight to totals.

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Because of New Orleans’ recent defensive surge, it spit out a final score of 24-24. If you add the proverbial home team field goal, it’s a final score of 27-24 in favor of the Saints. No surprise, the total happens to be 51.5, and my final total landed on 51.

I’ll give you my pick at the end of this column. But those looking for insight on the overall history in this scenario, the NFC has dominated in every facet. The NFC is 9-4 in the regular season meetings, then 10-3 in the Super Bowl.

Four teams have swept meetings in six seasons – all from the NFC – the Cowboys (1977), 49ers (1981, 1994), Bears (1985), and Giants (1986, 2011). The most successful team in this situation? The Giants are 4-0 in the Super Bowl when they’ve faced their opponent in the regular season.

Neither the Saints nor Chiefs have been in this situation, so it would be a first if they meet again in two months. In case they do, you may want to grab the Saints to win the Super Bowl, considering the NFC’s history in this scenario.

Saturday

Panthers at Packers -9: Carolina has failed to cover six straight in December and won’t be able to stop the highest-scoring team in football. PACKERS

Sunday

Jets at Rams -17: Los Angeles is on an 8-2 ATS win streak at home. The “Tank for Trevor” campaign continues. RAMS

Buccaneers at Falcons +5.5:  Atlanta, which is on an 11-5 ATS tear as a home pup, will employ its improved defense to help keep its home finale close. FALCONS

Jaguars at Ravens -13.5: The Jags have failed to cover six of its last eight vs. AFC teams. And after Monday’s exhilarating win, Baltimore will dominate at home. RAVENS

Chiefs -3 at Saints: Again, this is the best offense New Orleans will have seen, and Patrick Mahomes won’t be denied. Kansas City has won three straight in NFC cities. CHIEFS

49ers at Cowboys +3: Is it just me, or is the entire NFC East finally improving? Dallas has covered five straight as a home ‘dog. COWBOYS

Last week: 4-2

Season: 39-40-1

About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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