Championship Sunday Locks
We’ve made it to Championship Sunday! With the Wild Card round being dominated by the favorites, and the Divisional Round being the round of the underdog, it’s anyone’s guess as to what this day will bring.
Bengals @ Chiefs (-7), O/U 54.5
The AFC battle is a rematch of Week 17, when the Bengals squeaked out a win at home against the Chiefs. The game proved costly at the time for the Chiefs, who lost the bye week because of it. But it doesn’t matter now as they still have home field in the AFC Championship game.
The Bengals could’ve easily lost in the Wild Card round, but managed to get a last second stop to secure the win. They should’ve easily lost last week when they allowed 9 sacks, but managed to get the win due to Ryan Tannehill’s incompetence. It’ll certainly be a step up in competition this week, but it’s tough to look past this team. Not only did they defeat the Chiefs less than a month ago, but they have the explosive capability on offense to potentially keep up with the Chiefs. They certainly cannot allow Joe Burrow to get annihilated like they did last week. The offensive balance with Joe Mixon will be crucial to keeping the Chiefs defensive line from pinning their ears back.
The Chiefs had no problem in the Wild Card round. They should’ve lost the Divisional Round if not for horrendous late game time management by the Bills. But they’re here once again, hosting the AFC Championship game. Nothing more needs to be said about this team than everybody already knows. Mahomes, Hill and Kelce are an absolute force. They’re sometimes vulnerable early in games, which seems to be about the only shot against them. Once they get rolling, they put up points in a hurry. And this may be the best defense the Chiefs have had in this recent run of success they’ve had.
I have to go Chiefs here. I want the Bengals to win. America will be rooting so hard for them. No one (aside from Chiefs fans) want to see them in the Super Bowl for a 3rd straight year. But the difference between these two teams is far too great for me to pick the Bengals. If the Bengals can score TDs and get some stops early, then this game has a chance to be close. But the far more likely scenario is the Chiefs putting up points at will and putting Burrow on the ground constantly throughout the game. I’m laying the points with the Chiefs here.
Picks: Chiefs -7 (Deadbolt), OVER 54.5 (Padlock)
49ers @ Rams (-3.5), O/U 46
The NFC West was the best division all season, so it’s only fitting the NFC Championship features two teams from this division. It’s tough to call this matchup a rivalry though seeing how lopsided this has been with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers having won 6 straight against Sean McVay and the Rams.
The 49ers run to the championship was fueled 100% from this team’s grit and toughness. Jimmy G has thrown 0 TD passes in their two playoff wins, yet they’re still here. They didn’t score an offensive TD last week, yet they’re still here. They win games in the trenches, particularly against this Rams team. They’re stronger and more physical than their opponents. They bully other teams. They don’t ask a lot from their QB, but when they do, he has shown he’s capable of making a throw or two. But this offense lives and dies with Deebo Samuel and their ground game. That’s what they need to do successfully to win this game.
The Rams, on the other hand, have dominated (for the most part) both games to get to the championship game. Of course, they had a nearly colossal collapse last week late to let the Bucs back into the game, but Matthew Stafford bailed them out. Stafford has been incredible in the playoffs, and they’ll certainly need that to continue here. If this game is kept close, it’s to the 49ers advantage, because that means they can keep running. But if Stafford and the Rams can start fast again, and not let up like they did in Week 18 against this team, then they’ll be in good shape. Defensively, this team needs to be embarrassed by what happened in Week 18 and show up for an all-out physical brawl. If they can force Jimmy G to have to make plays, they’ll be in good shape.
I’m taking the points with the 49ers here. I expect this one to be close. And in a close game, especially where home field advantage essentially means nothing, I’ll gladly take more than a field goal.