NFL Analysis


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NFL Conference Championship Weekend: Expert Picks, Predictions For Every Game

nfl expert picks with logos of the Chiefs, Ravens, Lions and 49ers

We’re down to the final four as both conference’s best teams will host the third seed. Let’s dive right into each of those matchups while providing a score prediction for each.

Sunday, 3 p.m. ET

Ravens vs. Chiefs

Spread: Ravens -3.5

Total: 44.5

The Baltimore Ravens are among the most reliable teams of this century. Their success is built around their ability to limit mistakes while capitalizing on opponents' errors. They’ll host Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs, who are entering their sixth-straight AFC Championship appearance. 

Mahomes’ offense uncharacteristically struggled this season, but the unit is averaging 26.5 points per game in the playoffs. That improvement is encouraging, no doubt, but keep in mind the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills' defenses were both greatly reduced by injuries.

Baltimore’s league-best defense is an entirely different obstacle for Mahomes. Kansas City’s big game experience and Mahomes' play-extending abilities are the Chiefs' two biggest assets on offense. Otherwise, Kansas City’s offense has no significant matchup advantages against Baltimore.

Like Mahomes, Lamar Jackson is one of the few quarterbacks on the planet who can consistently carry an NFL offense.

He’s faced Steve Spagnualo’s Chiefs defense three times, but not since 2021. Jackson is 1-2 against Kansas City, with each of those games reaching at least 54 total points. He struggled as a passer in those contests but ran for at least 80 yards in two of those matchups.

How well Jackson performs as a passer could be the deciding factor. His favorite target, Mark Andrews, is expected to return to action for this bout with Kansas City.

Score Prediction: Ravens 23, Chiefs 20

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET

49ers vs. Lions

Spread: 49ers -7

Total: 51

The San Francisco 49ers survived a major scare from the Green Bay Packers last week, to the point the 49ers were largely outplayed by the Packers. Brock Purdy, in particular, had an uneven game against consistent pressure, in a rainy environment.

Clear skies are expected in San Francisco on Sunday, and the Detroit Lions have given up at least 340 passing yards in five straight games. That means there’s a clear path to a bounce-back performance from Purdy. He’ll likely need one because the Lions allowed the fewest rushing yards to running backs this season.

Not only is this a tough matchup for Christian McCaffrey, but Deebo Samuel is in danger of missing this contest. The 49ers have plenty of tools to beat a struggling Lions pass defense, but Samuel is a unique difference-maker. His availability greatly determines San Francisco's versatility and ceiling on offense.

Jared Goff has lost each of his last five games to San Francisco, but this is a dangerous, well-rounded Detroit offense. The 49ers’ dynamic pass rush will largely determine this contest. If Goff is under consistent duress, San Francisco could win this game by distance.

If Detroit’s premium offensive line can effectively mitigate San Francisco’s front, much like Green Bay did, that’s a requirement for a Lions victory. The 49ers allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to running backs this season, putting this game largely on Goff’s shoulders. 

Score Prediction: 49ers 26, Lions 20