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The Los Angeles Rams will face the... *deep sigh*... New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII (aka the 53rd Super Bowl, but it's so fancy it needs Roman numerals) in a couple of weeks. Both conference championship games were on Sunday, both went to overtime for the first time ever, and both had weird moments where it seemed like the other team won. For neutral fans, it felt like watching an action movie you didn’t know would end with a "to be continued": exhilarating, but vaguely unsatisfying. For fans of the losing teams, I am so, so sorry, and maybe you want to skip the Super Bowl this year? For fans of the winning teams, well, aren’t you satisfied with yourselves, you lucky sons of guns. What happened:

AFC Championship: New England Patriots 37, Kansas City Chiefs 31 (Overtime)
This was billed as a matchup of transcendent quarterbacks of different generations, with 41-year-old Tom Brady leading the Patriots -- who almost everyone loves to hate -- against 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The game did not disappoint. After the Chiefs scored a touchdown to take the lead with just 2:03 left in the fourth quarter, everyone who's been following the NFL at any point in the last 20 years had the same chilling thought: the Chiefs left Brady too much time. Sure enough, Brady led the Patriots to a touchdown to re-take the lead with just 39 seconds left. But in a twist, that was also too quick, as Mahomes was able to lead the Chiefs to a game-tying field goal. Would this, finally, be the changing of the guard?

No: Brady and the Pats made it look easy while scoring a touchdown on the first possession of overtime, ending the game. Presumably, Mahomes' time will eventually come, but that assumes that Tom Brady's body ages with the passage of time, which seems increasingly unlikely to be true.

NFC Championship: L.A. Rams 26, New Orleans Saints 23 (OT)
New Orleans jumped out to an early lead in front of a raucous home crowd, but then L.A. came all the way back. And with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter and in a comfortable position to at least kick a game-winning field goal, New Orleans' offensive possession stalled out thanks to the referees missing basically the most obvious "pass interference" call ever. Defenders are barely allowed to even touch receivers until they catch the ball, but a Rams defender full-on tackled a Saints receiver while a pass was still in the air. It was so egregious that the NFL is probably going to change the rules so that coaches can make refs review a play like this to reverse the call.

The Saints would've won if that had been called correctly -- instead, they settled for a field goal, the Rams had enough time to force overtime with a field goal of their own, and then the Rams won in overtime with a huge 57-yard field goal kick scored by Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein (real nickname, and a really long kick).So the Rams got to go the Super Bowl, and the Saints and their fans got to get angry. At least they have beignets, Mardi Gras, gumbo, the French Quarter... you know what, they'll be fine.

The Super Bowl Matchup
So it's Rams vs. Patriots in a couple of weeks, and Old Man Brady will have another young whippersnapper to deal with: 24-year-old quarterback Jared Goff. And, unfortunately for Brady, he'll also have to deal with Aaron Donald and the solid Rams defense, as opposed to the, honestly, hate to say it, but pretty weak Chiefs D. Interestingly, Brady's facing the same team he did in his first Super Bowl, 17 years ago (though back then, the Rams were in St. Louis).

It's also a glamorous new chapter in the L.A. vs. Boston rivalry, to add to last year's World Series (when the Red Sox beat the Dodgers), the greatest NBA rivalry of all time (Lakers vs. Celtics), and, of course, the battle for Ben Affleck's soul. The Patriots are the favorites in the Super Bowl -- barely -- but L.A. is the favorite for the Ben Affleck soul thing (also barely).
"Everyone outside of New England has been waiting for decades now for Brady and the Patriots to finally stop being so good. And it keeps not happening. Anyway, Go Rams!"
Here's the pass interference non-call that kept the Rams' season alive. Did the Rams defender hit the receiver before the ball got there? YOU be the judge (yes, yes he did, obviously, and that is very not allowed).
The Super Bowl -- heard of it? -- is happening on Sunday, February 3, at 6:30 PM ET on CBS. Maroon 5, which 41-year-old Tom Brady considers an "up and coming" band, is playing the halftime show.

A good sign for fans of good football games: this will be the Patriots' ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2002, and all the other eight were absolute nail-biters that came down to the final minute.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Tom Brady has been a successful football player.
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