NFL playoff predictions: Early Championship Sunday picks, odds
We’ve reached the Final Four.
Welcome to Championship Sunday.
Sadly, I dont think well get the best duo of football games.
Im betting both favorites roll to the Super Bowl.
Chiefs vs. Ravens prediction
Chiefs vs. Ravens odds: Ravens -3.5, Over/Under 44.5
Time/TV: 3 p.m. ET, CBS
The Chiefs managed to sneak by the Bills thanks to Patrick Mahomes’ magic and explosive plays.
But dont be fooled. The Bills walked up and down the field last Sunday.
Buffalo generated a 61% Rush Success Rate, rushing over 180 yards at nearly five yards per carry.
The Bills finished with 368 total yards and 27 first downs, marching down the field on every drive by obliterating the Chiefs front seven.
And thats been the problem with the Chiefs all season their rush defense stinks. Kansas City ranks 27th in Rush Defense DVOA and 28th in EPA per Rush allowed.
Only four NFL defenses allowed more yards per carry than the Chiefs 4.5.
That bodes poorly against Baltimores dominant rush-first offense.
The Ravens lead the league in rush rate (51%), leveraging Lamar Jacksons rushing ability to rank third in EPA per Rush and Rush Success Rate.
The Bills are a similarly dominant rush offense, but they dont lean on the run game as much.
Only the Bears ran for more yards than the Ravens this regular season (2,720).
As Buffalo did last week, Baltimore will dogwalk Kansas Citys front seven.
Kyle Hamilton during the AFC Divisional Playoff game. Getty ImagesBut the difference in this game will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Sean McDermotts tenure has been plagued by overly passive defense in big moments. The Bills get tight and allow too many easy chunk passing plays in big games, just like last week.
Baltimores secondary is among the leagues best. The Ravens rank second in EPA per Dropback allowed and second in Pro Football Focuss Coverage grades.
Led by stud safety Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens allowed an elite 26% completion rate on passes 20 or more yards downfield, allowing only two touchdowns and picking off six passes.
Mahomes can out-score his rush defense against a McDermott-led defense, but Im betting he cant do the same against Mike Madonalds uber-well-coached squad.
For example, look at how the Ravens overwhelmed CJ Stroud and Houston last week. Stroud completed 19 of his 33 passing attempts for a meager 175 yards, and the Texans never made it into the redzone.
Marcus Williams, Geno Stone, and Kyle Hamilton COMBINED vs. Texans: – 5 targets – 2 receptions – 5 yards pic.twitter.com/XSLVwO35hz
— (@LIVERavenNation) January 23, 2024If it werent for the punt return touchdown, the Texans wouldve finished with three points.
I dont expect the Ravens to hold Mahomes to only three points, but they should play well enough to generate a few stops while Jackson and Co. control the ball with highly successfully rush-heavy drives for 60 minutes.
Im happy laying a field goal and the hook with the home squad in that scenario. The Ravens look the part of a Super Bowl champion, and theyll show it on Sunday.
Chiefs vs. Ravens pick: Ravens -3.5
Lions vs. 49ers prediction
Lions vs. 49ers odds: 49ers -7, Over/Under 51
Time/TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, FOX
I want to bet on the Lions.
The story is spectacular. The offense is dominant and balanced under Ben Johnsons tutelage. The front seven is rock solid behind stud pass-rusher Aidan Hutchison.
Alas, I cant trust Jared Goff on the road in outdoor conditions.
In the comfy confines of the Ford Field Dome, Goff completed 70% of his passes for 19 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 107.9 rating.
In his nine road games, he completed 64% of passes for only 11 touchdowns, six interceptions and an 89.4 rating. Goff was sacked six more times on the road than at home.
Goff is a sniper who can complete passes in perfect conditions i.e., a clean pocket in a dome.
But you put him up against Nick Bosa in Levis Stadium, and hes no longer an elite NFL quarterback.
Unfortunatly, the Lions need him to be an elite quarterback.
Theyll run the ball fine against San Franciscos legitimately bad rush defense (and all-around front seven), but Goff must generate chunk passing plays to keep up with Kyle Shanahan for 60 minutes.
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers lines up to run around the edge during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers. Getty ImagesEspecially because Detroits secondary is horrendous. The Lions rank bottom-seven in EPA per Dropback and Pass Success Rate allowed.
They rank 29th in Pro Football Focuss Coverage grades, with Cam Sutton and Kindle Vildor ranking outside the top 100 among 130 qualified cornerbacks in overall grades.
Say what you want about Brock Purdy, but Shanahan knows how to scheme offense with him under center.
The Niners rank first in the NFL in EPA per Dropback and Pass Success Rate Purdy generates .10 EPA per Play more than the second-best quarterback.
They have no shortage of weapons that will run freely all over the field against Detroits lackadaisical defensive backs even if Deebo Samuel cant play this weekend.
The Niners generated the second-most yards after the catch in the regular season, while the Lions allowed the ninth most.
YAC leaders each season #49ers#NFLpic.twitter.com/8ECErNQWod
— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) December 17, 2023Detroits run to the NFC Championship game will be remembered, but the clock has struck midnight on the Lions. The secondary has too many holes for the Niners to exploit, and Goff cant keep up in outoor conditions.
Lions vs 49ers Pick: 49ers -7
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