By William Hill
Last Updated: 9th January 2020
The AFC and NFC Championship Games will represent either the triumph of experience over youth or a changing of the guard in the NFL. Yet given the attacking intensity of these games, both Tom Brady and Drew Brees may possess too much for their opposing quarterbacks.
1) Battle of the Ages
Given that both Tom Brady and Drew Brees have the best part of 15 years over their opposing quarterbacks, the rookie MVP contenders could be undone by the sheer amount of experience the two Super Bowl winners possess.
For Patrick Mahomes, the stats are particularly damning, considering that quarterbacks making their conference championship debut against Bill Belichick’s side have a woeful record of 5-17.
This may not be as accurate for sides facing Brees, but Goff being his junior by 16 years points towards a similar trend.
Ultimately, when you stack up Brady’s 200 regular season victories against Mahomes’ record, the odds do not look to be in the favour of the 23-year-old.
2) There’s no place like home
Unlike Dorothy, Mahomes won’t have to leave Kansas for his latest venture, but the LA Rams won’t be as lucky.
They face a Saints quarterback who has posted a 133.3 passer rating at the Superdome in the regular season – a significantly higher rate than he has posted on the road.
Travelling to the Superdome won’t be easy for Goff’s men, and given the arctic conditions and the frosty reception from the Saints fans, it could be one of the decisive factors in a potential defeat.
3) Under the Kosh
Keeping a cool head in high-octane playoff games is a skill that needs to be carefully honed over many years – something that both Brady and Brees are adept in perfecting.
In contrast, Jared Goff has been a bag of nerves, noticeable in his performance against the Dallas Cowboys. While every quarterback worsens under duress, it’s become increasingly clear that Goff is unable to operate in the face of pressure.
Even in the win over the Cowboys, Goff went 15 of 28 for 186 yards and a 74.4 passer rating, while Mahomes’ two interception throws against the Pats earlier on in the season also adds precedent to this point.
4) Brees-ing through
Drew Brees may not possess the pace that Goff does, but his ability to counter every defensive play in the book is only seconded by Brady himself.
The 40-year-old impressed against the Philadelphia Eagles with both his rushing game and throwing capabilities, mirrored by Brady against the Chiefs earlier on in the season.
In the fourth quarter, he broke loose from what was a certain sack, dropped his shoulder and hustled his way to a touchdown run. With 51 seconds remaining on the clock, he then threw a feathery touch pass that Rob Gronkowski snatched up, leading to the game-ending field goal.
Case in point, both Brees and Brady’s sheer range of passes, from fake throws to back-of-the-shoulder hauls, means that there is little that will surprise them in this Saturday’s games.
5) Winning mentality
If experience, home-field advantage, a cool head and sheer talent doesn’t get Brady and Brees through, then their winning mentality will do the job.
Both men have been in plenty of playoffs wins down the years, and where losing has become a rarity to them, the likes of Mahomes and Goff are still newbies in the game.
Indeed, to the old-timers, winning will be the only way they operate, whereas the Chiefs and Rams as a collective unit may lack the kind of mindset needed to push through this weekend’s games.