After going 5-1 during wildcard weekend, I went 2-2 with my predictions this past week. I bought into the hype of the Texans a little too much as they were blown out by Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Meanwhile, the Bills let us and America down by coming up short vs. Patrick Mahomes, Taylor Swift, and the Kansas City Chiefs. On the NFC side of things, the 49ers barely avoided an upset while the Lions outlasted Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now, we approach what some call the best weekend of football of the year, the AFC and NFC Championship games. On the AFC side of things, we have the reigning Super Bowl Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs heading east to take on likely MVP Lamar Jackson and the number one seed Baltimore Ravens. On the NFC, you have the feel-good story Detroit Lions heading west to take on the number one seed San Francisco 49ers. These two games will decide who will represent the AFC and NFC in Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas.
And then there were four. pic.twitter.com/A4gsCEqZLg— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 22, 2024
AFC Championship Game
Kansas City Chiefs(3) vs. Baltimore Ravens(1)
The Baltimore Ravens showed little rust this past weekend as they easily defeated the Houston Texans. I thought the Texans, who were coming off two big wins and a dominant win over the Browns a week prior would be more competitive but they were blown out by the score of 34-10. Lamar Jackson showed why he is the likely MVP winner and the Ravens advance to the AFC Championship game. As for the Chiefs, they traveled to Buffalo to take on Josh Allen and a hot Buffalo Bills team. Unfortunately, a field goal miss in the final minutes by the Bills ended up giving Mahomes and the Chiefs the victory in this one. Now, they will head east to take on the Ravens to see which team will advance to Super Bowl LVIII.
This is going to be an intriguing matchup as Mahomes will have to play on the road once again but this time, against a top defense in the league. The Bills who had their defense decimated by injuries struggled to slow down the Chiefs offense but the Ravens can do just that. The Ravens also have a high-powered offense that can make plays on the ground and through the air and could be getting back top tight end Mark Andrews from injury. The Ravens are a better team on paper, they can stop the Chiefs' run game and shut down their not-so-talented receiving group. On the offensive side of the ball, Lamar will need to prove why he’s the MVP and lead his team to victory, and back to the Super Bowl.
With that said, you can never count out Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, the Chiefs defense, and the refs to do what it takes to get them back to the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, I have the Ravens winning this one (I will never pick the Chiefs but the Ravens should be the favorites) and representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
NFC Championship Game
Detroit Lions(3) vs. San Francisco 49ers(1)
The Detroit Lions played in another nail bitter in front of their home crowd but were able to outlast a feisty Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad led by quarterback Baker Mayfield. On the final drive of the game, Mayfield threw an ugly interception that locked in the victory for the Lions who will advance to the NFC Championship game. As for the 49ers, they won a game they probably should have lost vs. the Green Bay Packers. They were behind most of the game but were able to lead a late-game comeback on the heels of a missed field goal by the Packers. Then, on the final drive of the game, Packers quarterback Jordan Love threw an ugly interception to end the game and give the 49ers the win.
This is an interesting matchup against two explosive offenses with opportunistic defenses. On paper, the 49ers appear to be the better team but quarterback Brock Purdy has been struggling recently. Meanwhile, the Lions are explosive on offense but their defense has issues stopping the passing game at times. So, this will be an interesting game to watch this upcoming weekend. I think it will be a close one and I think the Detroit Lions will continue their feel-good story run and advance to Super Bowl LVIII. I think their offense will do just enough to get them the win while their defense will come up with a few big turnovers to give them the victory. Purdy has been struggling and I think those struggles will continue and ultimately end up costing the 49ers.