With just two games left before the Super Bowl, that means it’s time for 2024 AFC Championship Game predictions and 2024 NFC Championship Game predictions. The kickoff times for this weekend’s playoff games have been set and we have two great matchups on tap.
NFL Conference Championship Game Predictions
Through the first 10 playoff games, just two road teams have won. That means there haven’t been that many surprises despite some compelling games. It also means that the best teams have made it to the conference championship games.
The top two seeds in the NFC are still alive while the no. 1 and no. 3 seeds are set to play on the AFC side. Let’s take a closer look at each matchup.
NFC Championship Game: Lions vs 49ers
It’s certainly no surprise to see the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game for the third straight year and the fourth time in the last five seasons. Players like Nick Bosa and Fred Warner can already be considered among the best defensive players of all time at their position, giving San Francisco one of the best defenses in the NFL once again. Meanwhile, Christian McCaffrey gives the 49ers arguably the best offensive skill position player in the game right now.
On the other hand, Brock Purdy left a lot to be desired during the win over the Packers despite leading a late comeback. Deebo Samuel is also questionable to play in the NFC Championship Game. His absence could change the entire outlook of the San Francisco offense. It’s also worth mentioning that the 49ers are just 2-4 against the spread in their last four games and a modest 5-5-1 against the spread this season when favored by seven points or more.
At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the momentum and confidence the Lions have heading into the team’s first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1991. They are also 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games and 7-2 against the spread on the road this season. Under Dan Campbell, there is no question Detroit will be embracing the underdog label in this game.
In fairness, Detroit’s defense is easily the worst of the four teams remaining. However, Jared Goff is arguably a more reliable quarterback than Purdy right now. Also, with the way rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta have contributed alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown and David Montgomery, Detroit’s offensive skill players are no less dangerous than San Francisco’s playmakers. Behind Goff, look for the Lions to make this a close game and beat the spread, potentially pulling off the upset.
Pick: Lions +7
AFC Championship Game: Chiefs vs Ravens
Well, this hasn’t been the most impressive season for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. However, they’re in the AFC Championship Game for the sixth consecutive season. During Kansas City’s Wild Card win over the Dolphins and road win over the Bills, the Chiefs have played some of their best football of the season.
Since their Christmas Day disaster against the Raiders, the Chiefs are 4-0 and 4-0 against the spread, including a pair of wins as a road underdogs. In addition to the superhuman Mahomes, they have one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history in Travis Kelce and a running back in Isiah Pacheco who has been outstanding during the playoffs. There is also the Kansas City defense, which continues to be stout, especially in the second half of games.
On the other side, the Ravens have Lamar Jackson, who is the presumptive MVP. Despite a shaky playoff history, Jackson was in full control of last week’s win over the Texans. If we forgive Baltimore’s Week 18 loss when Jackson and other key starters were rested, the Ravens have won seven in a row, going 6-1 against the spread in those games.
Keep in mind that Jackson has the top defense in the NFL backing him up. The Ravens conceded just 16.5 points per game during the regular season and just 14.4 points per game in their last five games. Keep in mind they’ve played the Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins, and Texans during that stretch, so they’ve faced quality offensive teams and stifled them. That could be the difference in this game, allowing the Ravens to knock off the reigning champs and cover the three-point spread.
Pick: Ravens -3