NFL Conference Championship Weekend
The NFL conference championship games are here! The four remaining teams all feel like they have enough to clinch a Super Bowl berth. The Chiefs and looking for their fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years, the 49ers are hoping to add another memorable win to their rich history, the Ravens are trying to make it back to the big game, and the Lions are going for their first SB appearance in franchise history. So much is at stake…Let’s break it all down!
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Kick-off: Sunday, January 28 at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT
Why Kansas City will win: Two words: Patrick Mahomes. He is the single most terrifying football player on the planet to go against in a playoff matchup. He has an obvious track record of winning at the highest level. Not to mention, he’s playing with considerable confidence in the wake of taking down Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on the road. If we zoom out further, the Chiefs as a whole have a championship pedigree. They won’t panic in the face of adversity. They’ve been here before, and will function accordingly under the leadership of Mahomes, Chris Jones, and Andy Reid.
Why Baltimore will win: Playing at home is always a nice advantage to have. You’re looking at a team with the better defense, the deeper offense, and the presumed league MVP in Lamar Jackson. All of these facts should help the Ravens get an edge in this contest. Kansas City had some injuries on the defensive side of the ball suffered this past weekend. We aren’t sure any of those players will be back for this contest. Even if they’re back, we aren’t sure it’ll matter very much. If Baltimore can take away Isiah Pacheco and Kansas City’s run game, making Patrick Mahomes throw the football — as illogical as that sounds — could work in Baltimore’s favor.
Prediction: Everything would seem towards taking Baltimore to win the game. As was laid out above, the Ravens have plenty of advantages in this contest pertaining to both personnel and the elements. However, the Mahomes factor should be nerve-wracking even for Baltimore fans. He has won the most playoff games of any quarterback in NFL history under the age of 30. Mahomes also has an 8-3 record as an underdog. This is the best record of any QB in the Super Bowl era with a minimum of 10 starts. Surely, the gunslinger will want to showcase his talents on the road in a game where his team isn’t favored. There’s also the probability of Taylor Swift rooting the Chiefs on in a cushy Baltimore suite next to a drunk Jason Kelce pounding beers shirtless. How can you go against Mahomes, let alone that scene?
Prediction: Kansas City 31, Baltimore 28
Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers
Kick-off: Sunday, January 28 at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT
Why Detroit will win: The Lions are riding high and looking to cap off the best season in team history. Jared Goff has plenty of confidence, and no shortage of experience having already competed in a Super Bowl with the Rams. If there’s one area San Francisco’s defense is susceptible, it’s on the ground. We just haven’t seen teams pound the Niners because San Francisco has typically played with a lead. If the Lions start strong, we could see their offensive line open up holes for Detroit’s potent RB combo of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. Also, we can’t count out head coach Dan Campbell and the advantages he grants his team. If the Lions pull out the upset, it will be because Campbell’s aggressiveness leads to a big fourth down conversion or two.
Why San Francisco will win: The Niners shook off the rust against Green Bay. Despite going up against an inferior team, San Francisco looked to be on the ropes. Brock Purdy proved some doubters wrong with a strong final drive to give his team the lead after taking the last two weeks off. The Lions had been strong against the run defensively throughout the year but got gashed by Tampa’s ground game which ranked dead last during the regular season. Kyle Shanahan will surely pick up on the weaknesses that the Buccaneers exposed. Goff loves to the throw the ball across the middle of the field, which is exactly where All-World LB Fred Warner will be lurking. A couple of early turnovers from the Lions QB could make this a rout.
Prediction: San Francisco has dominated the NFC all year long (an 11-1 record against NFC opponents — — excluding Sam Darnold’s Week 18 start — with a plus-174 point-differential). Detroit is a worthy adversary and will give San Francisco a different sort of matchup than they’ve seen thus far. Dan Campbell will pull out all the tricks, and this is a Lions group that doesn’t have any quit in them. However, the 49ers are going into this with the utmost confidence after beating the Packers despite not putting together their best overall game. Behind their raucous crowd, the Niners pull away in the second half as Kyle Shanahan leads San Francisco to another Super Bowl berth.
Prediction: San Francisco 31, Detroit 22