NFL Predictions: Picks for the Conference Championship Games

Athlon's NFL experts make their picks for the AFC and NFC title games

It's the NFL's version of the College Football Playoff (or Final Four if you prefer) as the conference championship games are set for Sunday to determine which teams will meet in Super Bowl LIV. If not for the exploits of a certain team, the AFC and NFC Championships would feature a pair of No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups.

 

Instead, thanks to the impressive run by Tennessee, Sunday's title games are rematches from the regular season. The No. 6-seeded Titans have already knocked off No. 3 New England, the defending Super Bowl champions, and No. 1 Baltimore, the team with the best record in the league entering the postseason. Last Saturday, the Titans beat the Ravens and MVP favorite Lamar Jackson 28-12 with Derrick Henry punishing Baltimore for 195 rushing yards as well as throwing for a touchdown on a trick play near the goal line.

 

If Tennessee wants to become the latest wild-card team to make it to the Super Bowl, it will have to slow down a Chiefs team that erased a 24-0 deficit last week to Houston by exploding for 51 points in a little more than two and a half quarters. Patrick Mahomes tossed five touchdown passes, three of them to Travis Kelce, as Kansas City scored 41 straight points to overwhelm the Texans.

 

The Titans and Chiefs met back in Week 10, a game Tennessee won at home, 35-32. Henry ran for 188 yards and two scores while Ryan Tannehill tossed a pair of TD passes. That was Mahomes' first game back from a dislocated kneecap suffered in Week 7. The reigning MVP showed little rust, throwing for 446 yards and three scores as Kansas City piled up 530 yards of offense. The Chiefs had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Tennessee blocked Harrison Butker's 52-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game to preserve the victory.

 

On the NFC side, Green Bay is hoping for a better result out west against San Francisco than what transpired back in Week 12. In the first meeting, the 49ers won easily, behind their dominant defense. The eventual NFC West champs held Aaron Rodgers to 104 passing yards (on 20 completions) while sacking him five times.

 

Last Sunday, Rodgers and the Packers took care of Seattle at home, defeating the Seahawks 28-23 with key contributions from Aaron Jones (62 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and Davante Adams (8 rec., 160 yds., 2 TDs). San Francisco was even more impressive in its 27-10 Divisional Round victory over Minnesota. The 49ers relied on their running game (186 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and defense (21 rushing yards allowed, six sacks, two takeaways) to shut down the Vikings. Look for a similar game plan on Sunday, especially since it worked pretty well the first time, but Jimmy Garoppolo will probably need to play better than he did last week (11-for-19, 131 yds., TD, INT) if San Francisco wants to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years.

 

So which teams will advance to Super Bowl LIV? Athlon's own Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster) and Mark Ross (@AthlonMark), along with AthlonSports.com contributor Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer), predict the winners (and score) for the AFC and NFC Championship Games:

 

NFL Conference Championship Games Predictions

 

 

Rob

Doster

Bryan
Fischer

Mark

Ross

AFC Championship:
Tennessee at

Kansas City
(Sun.)

NFL Picks: Chiefs
35-24
NFL Picks: Chiefs
31-24
NFL Picks: Chiefs
30-24

NFC Championship:
Green Bay at

San Francisco
(Sun.)

NFL Picks: 49ers
24-21
NFL Picks: Packers
27-24
NFL Picks: 49ers
27-23
Divisional Round 2-2 3-1 3-1
Season* 165-100 166-99 164-101

*Detroit vs. Arizona in Week 1 ended in a tie.

Event Date: 
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 09:29
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