Despite the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t in the playoffs, we are all watching this week’s conference championships with a keen eye. In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens square off against the Kansas City Chiefs and on the NFC side the Detroit Lions are going against the San Francisco 49ers. Here are our picks for this week’s conference championship game.
It is impossible for me to bring myself to actively root for the Ravens, even though they were my Super Bowl pick before the start of the season. This will be a showdown between the two best quarterbacks in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson but I feel like it will come down to the defenses in this one. Baltimore always has a good defense but the Chiefs are doing something special on that side of the football and I think they make a play late to pull off the win. – Curt Popejoy, Managing Editor
Lamar Jackson is playing MVP football, and the Ravens have the fiercest defense of the final four, nearly flawless. After a rocky 1-3 stretch in the middle of their second half of the season, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs came alive to finish the season. Kansas City routed the Miami Dolphins and squeaked out a win over the Buffalo Bills, but I think Baltimore’s defense will prove too much for the Chiefs to get enough going offensively to pull off a win. – Allison Koehler, Contributor
The San Francisco 49ers will be tough to beat, but I’m going with the underdog here. The Niners are coming into this matchup a little cocky, and having been in this position before, they may have the attitude that they’ve got it won even before kick-off. The Lions will have to play mistake-free, balanced football, but if any team can do it, it’s Dan Campbell’s squad. – Allison Koehler, Contributor
You can’t help but think the Lions are the team of destiny this season. This group is physical, and confident and they really are an underrated team in terms of talent. Like the AFC showdown, this one will come down to the defense but Detroit will channel the energy of head coach Dan Campbell and earn that trip to the Super Bowl. – Curt Popejoy, Managing Editor