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Championship Sunday Preview: Picks and predictions on Chiefs-Ravens and Lions-49ers



We are down to the final four teams. We only have three more NFL games left until next September. Time to savor what we have left for the NFL season.


And the best part: We have two insanely entertaining matchups. We have Patrick Mahomes as an underdog for the second straight week. Will we see Lamar Jackson get over the hump? Then we have San Francisco who has been dominant in the NFC for the last half decade against upstart Detroit.



So many storylines and we are going to break it down.


Kansas City at Baltimore


Spread: Baltimore (-4)


Total: 44.5


The main storyline here is Patrick Mahomes being an underdog in the postseason. Mahomes has been an underdog only 11 times! He has won eight of those contests. Then you have Baltimore. John Harbaugh won a Super Bowl over a decade ago when Ray Lewis was roaming the field. This is Harbaugh’s first appearance in the conference championship game since that Super Bowl run.


For the Ravens, it all starts with Lamar Jackson. This is the most balanced and explosive offense Baltimore has had since Jackson has captained the team. They rank second in the league in scoring at 28.7, fourth in yards per play, and third in EPA. They have the No. 1 rushing offense in the league and Jackson is averaging a career best 7.3 yards per pass attempt. They will be facing a Kansas City defense that ranks second in scoring and 3rd in total yards.



On the defensive side of the ball, the Baltimore defense is the best unit in football. They have the No. 1 scoring defense and rank second in yards. They rush the passer and have great coverage in the back end. Until the postseason, Kansas City's offense has been stagnant. There are people saying Mahomes has found his groove. This is probably true. Baltimore does an excellent job taking away the middle of the field. They have the best inside linebacker duo and safety duo in the NFL.


Meanwhile for KC, Patrick Mahomes was phenomenal against Buffalo. Kansas City is going to have a hard time moving the ball against Baltimore. They need to be able to get the ball to the edge and have players make plays in space. Kansas City’s play makers don’t do that. They need guys who can win one-on-one on the outside. Mahomes can make throws outside the hashes- but the receivers need to win. We saw Baltimore shut down an explosive San Francisco offense on the road. They forced Purdy into tough throws and didn’t give him time to make decisions. Mahomes will move the ball because he is Patrick Mahomes- the Baltimore defense will make everything hard.


Baltimore is my team I picked to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the postseason- I will stick to that prediction here. It’s hard to give Mahomes four points. I think Baltimore takes care of business. We are going to see another Harbaugh in a football championship game.


The pick: Baltimore (-4)


Props : Lamar Jackson over 61.5 rushing yards; Patrick Mahomes over 26.5 rushing yards, Travis Kelce under 63.5 receiving yards

 

Detroit at San Francisco


Spread: San Francisco -7


Total: 51.5


Last week San Francisco played not to lose, and it almost cost them. After a shaky first half, Kyle Shanahan was extremely conservative the entire game. It was against a mediocre Green Bay defense. It wasn’t until the last drive they let Brock Purdy cook.


That type of mindset will cost San Francisco here.


Dan Campbell is going to pull out every stop. Detroit is going to go for it on 4th down, they are going to throw the ball downfield, and maybe try an onside kick or two. I’m going to back the aggressive team.



On paper, San Francisco should move the ball at will. I think Detroit will have success defending the run. Detroit’s secondary ranks 30th in yards per attempt on defense, they allowed more explosive passing plays than any team that made the post season. Detroit’s secondary ranks 32nd in explosive pass defense allowed and now has to face the most explosive passing offense in the NFL. After struggling against Green Bay, is Shanahan going to trust his young gun slinger to win this game?


Detroit has a top-five run offense and the 49ers' inconsistent rush defense. The Detroit offensive line leads the NFL in offensive line yards. We saw Aaron Jones have a lot of success last week. Gibbs for Detroit is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL. You have Jared Goff coming back to the Bay Area. Detroit can rip off some explosive plays they are going to have a chance to be in this game.


I love Detroit here. They are going to be competitive on both lines of scrimmages. Dan Campbell is going to try to take this game from Kyle Shanahan. I’m all for it. Give me Detroit to pull off the upset.


The pick: Detroit +7


Props: Jahmyr Gibbs over 47.5 rushing yards: Brandon Ayuik over 70.5 receiving yards,


Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter - @AMontgomeryLive 



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