N.F.L. Playoff Predictions: Our Picks for the Conference Championships

Again in Week 1, the Chiefs envisioned to be playing this weekend, and the Packers have been certainly hoping to still be alive. The 49ers, on the other hand, did not commence to sense like a actual contender until eventually they experienced strung rather a several wins with each other, and the Titans were nonetheless preventing for a playoff place in Week 17. But regardless of anticipations — and a normal year dominated by the Ravens — all four of these teams survived to this weekend, and every is a victory away from playing in Tremendous Bowl LIV.

Right here are our predictions for the meeting championship games, with every single choose built towards the spread.

Past weekend’s history in opposition to the distribute: 3-1

All round postseason file: 5-2-1

A.F.C.

3:05 p.m., CBS | Line: Chiefs -7 | Complete: 53

To get in this article, the Titans had to defeat the team with the very best defense in soccer (the New England Patriots) and the group with the most effective offense (the Baltimore Ravens) — with the two wins coming on the street. Subsequent up are the Chiefs, a crew with a radically enhanced defense, one particular of the most powerful dwelling crowds in the N.F.L., and an offense led by Patrick Mahomes that on its finest day is even much more explosive than Lamar Jackson’s Ravens.

Case in point: The Chiefs were down by 24- to the Houston Texans in the 2nd quarter of previous weekend’s divisional spherical recreation, and they still managed to gain by 20 factors.

It is simple sufficient to see why Tennessee would obtain by itself an underdog, but at this issue there is no denying that Mentor Mike Vrabel has located a fairly special formula for success — his strange offense and his opportunistic defense. And it is solely doable that the Titans are not completed creating Las Vegas glimpse silly for doubting them.

Scoring must not be a challenge for Tennessee. As the Chiefs’ defense enhanced significantly this time, its most important problem was against the run, where by Football Outsiders rated the workforce 29th in efficiency. That ought to further more the hopes of Titans managing back Derrick Henry, who will go into the video game owning by now received 377 yards on the floor in these playoffs, putting on a show that has been will have to-see Tv set.

But just after two months of relying on a mostly 1-dimensional offense, the Titans could diversify now that they have gotten earlier New England and Baltimore, which experienced two of the three most suffocating secondaries in the N.F.L.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown a keen capability to just take benefit of any opportunity afforded him, and the Chiefs, who are missing their standout rookie safety, Juan Thornhill (A.C.L. tear), and do not yet know the status of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones (calf), may well just give him a handful of — provided he keeps the ball as significantly away from safety Tyrann Mathieu as possible.

Tennessee utilized a mix of Henry and Tannehill in Week 10 to beat the Chiefs, 35-32, in Nashville. But Mahomes, in his initially match again from a knee injuries, handed for 446 yards and a few touchdowns in that sport. He could be capable of even more in opposition to a Titans defense that appeared to dress in down as the time chugged together, ending in the center of the pack in most rankings. While Tennessee creates some chaos with turnovers, it is also quite smooth versus the pass. That ought to be an severe liability in opposition to Mahomes, who has his selection of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce on every play.

For Tennessee to pull off its 3rd consecutive upset, it will need to get a several massive performs from Tannehill, grind up the clock with Henry and hope the protection can consider advantage of a error or two from Mahomes. Every of all those things is attainable, but obtaining all a few is not really possible. A slim defeat is a greater wager. Decide on: Titans +7

N.F.C.

6:40 p.m., Fox | Line: 49ers -7.5 | Overall: 45

The effectiveness with which the 49ers demolished the Packers in 7 days 12 is difficult to fail to remember. San Francisco forced a fumble on Eco-friendly Bay’s opening drive and then scored a landing on its initially offensive participate in. The Packers’ 7 other drives of the initial half finished in 6 punts and a turnover on downs, although the 49ers crafted a 23- direct.

In the stop, a very touted matchup of N.F.C. heavyweights turned a 37-8 drubbing in which the 49ers’ defense confined Aaron Rodgers to 104 passing yards and held running back Aaron Jones to 38 yards on 13 carries. And that was when San Francisco was lacking Dee Ford, just one of its star defensive finishes, since of a hamstring injury.

Ford, on the other hand, was not the only important participant missing. Inexperienced Bay performed almost the overall game without Bryan Bulaga, a mainstay at ideal tackle, and that was painfully evident as Nick Bosa and the relaxation of the 49ers protection poured into the backfield on engage in just after participate in.

Inexperienced Bay misplaced only a few online games this season, and it is telling that Bulaga missed huge chunks of two of them. He has been restricted in observe this 7 days with an health issues but is envisioned to be on the field Sunday — as is Ford — and the match could very easily be gained or dropped centered on how Eco-friendly Bay’s offensive line handles San Francisco’s ferocious pass hurry.

The 49ers experienced one particular of the ideal offenses in the N.F.L. this time — they had been ruthlessly successful in the passing sport and rushed for additional yards than any staff other than Baltimore — but even quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo designed it clear this week that the key variation in the crew from previous time is the protection. Garoppolo went so considerably as to propose that his have period-ending knee injuries in 2018 served make the transformation transpire, as San Francisco ended up with a file worth the No. 2 choose in the N.F.L. draft.

“I usually informed myself it was a blessing in disguise, the A.C.L.,” he stated. “We got Bosa out of it.”

It would be fairly shocking if Rodgers, Jones and large receiver Davante Adams did not have at the very least a minor additional accomplishment from the 49ers this time about. But practically nothing the Packers have completed implies that they are enjoying at San Francisco’s amount, and their fantastic initial period beneath Coach Matt LaFleur seems destined to conclusion one particular stage in advance of the Tremendous Bowl. Decide on: 49ers -7.5

All situations are Jap.

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