NFL playoffs 2019: Picks, predictions for conference championships

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on Patrick Mahomes' no-look pass: 'I do it all the time'

The NFL is down to its four finalists, and they’ll be in top form Sunday for a pair of exciting matchups that pit young gunslingers against experienced veterans.

Sunday’s slate is highlighted by an AFC showdown between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, who share the largest age gap between two starting quarterbacks in postseason history. The matchup resembles a passing of the torch, of sorts, from one era of greatness to another on the rise.

But first, Drew Brees and Jared Goff will square off in the NFC for a similar quarterback showing that will also feature a high-octane offense taking on one of the league’s most dominating defenses.

New England is a rare underdog entering Arrowhead Stadium, while the Saints are favored in front of their home crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Who will punch their ticket to Atlanta?

Rams at Saints

3:05 p.m., Sunday (Fox)

The Rams entered New Orleans as the league’s lone undefeated team in Week 9 and left with a 45-35 loss, and while a lot has changed since then, a similar outcome could be in store Sunday for Los Angeles.

Goff has struggled on the road this season, throwing for 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions and a 82.7 passer rating away from the Coliseum. On the other hand, Brees is sensational at the Superdome and boasted a 133.3 passer rating at home during the regular season.

History isn’t exactly working in L.A.’s favor, either. While the Rams own the all-time series 43-34 against the Saints, Los Angeles is 2-3 against New Orleans since 2010 and hasn’t won at the Superdome since 2007.

But there’s much to be said about Rams rushers Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, who combined for 238 yards and three touchdowns as Los Angeles dominated Dallas’ No. 5-ranked rushing defense in the divisional round. There’s also the strength of NFL Defensive Player of The Year favorite Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers to consider on the opposite side of the ball.

Prediction: Saints 27, Rams 20

Patriots at Chiefs

6:40 p.m., Sunday (CBS)

New England and Kansas City’s clash in Week 6 was a back-and-forth thriller that ended with a 43-40 win for the Patriots on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time ran out. New England will seek its first playoff victory on the road since the 2006 season in Sunday’s rematch, but a win won’t come easy.

Despite being a first-year starter, Mahomes was consistently hot during his record-breaking campaign. The MVP frontrunner became just the second player in NFL history to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards in a single season before helping the Chiefs snap their postseason skid with help from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

But the masterful Brady has made 13 AFC title game appearances in his 17-year career. Even if he and his supporting cast were a bit sluggish during the regular season while also dealing with injuries, Brady’s expertise paired with that of coach Bill Belichick will always give him an edge.

To make things more interesting, both teams will be faced with the challenge of playing through an “arctic blast” that is projected to hit the midwest this weekend and bring temperatures that will range from 10 degrees to below zero. If the forecast holds, it could be the coldest game in Arrowhead Stadium history.

Prediction: Chiefs 41, Patriots 38