NFL playoff picks, predictions: Packers stun 49ers, Chiefs handle Titans in conference championship games

One extra spherical of the 2020 NFL playoffs earlier than Super Bowl 54, another probability to nail a number of NFL recreation predictions in a given week.

The arrival of the conference championship spherical of the postseason leaves us three picks to make this 12 months, together with the large recreation in South Florida. We hope to finish the season on a excessive be aware, and we’re already trending in that path with the luck we had in the divisional spherical. The Packers, 49ers and Chiefs delivered victories as favorites, with the Ravens’ loss to the Titans being the one upset.

Based on the opening level spreads for the NFC and AFC championship games, extra upsets will be thought of unlikely.

In the AFC title recreation, Kansas City opened as a 7 1/2-point residence favourite over Tennessee, which clearly is not any stranger to postseason upsets having defeated New England and Baltimore in the primary two rounds. Likewise, the NFC title recreation opened with a comparatively massive unfold, with San Francisco a 7-point residence favourite over Green Bay.

Given these strains, we most likely could be sensible to go chalk with our picks straight up for the conference championship spherical. Such an strategy labored out properly for us final week.

But the place’s the enjoyable in that?

Considering all the above, listed below are our NFL playoff picks, predictions for the AFC and NFC championship games. All odds are courtesy of

MORE: Get the newest NFL odds & betting recommendation from Sports Insider

NFL playoff picks, predictions for AFC, NFC championship games

Patrick Mahomes

  • AFC championship recreation: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-7 half of)

Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS

On one hand, the No. 2-seeded Chiefs ought to really feel lucky to attract the No. 6-seeded Titans in the AFC title recreation relatively than, say, the Ravens or Patriots, the 2 groups Tennessee upset on its method to Kansas City. On the opposite hand, this is a tricky matchup for the Chiefs.

Rising star operating again Derrick Henry was a nightmare for Baltimore and New England, the groups that completed the common season with the No. 5- and No. 6-ranked rush defenses, respectively. So what ought to we count on the 6-3, 240-pounder to do in opposition to the protection that ranked 26th in speeding yards allowed this season with 128.2 given up per recreation? Henry’s speeding totals to date in the playoffs: 182 yards in opposition to the Patriots; 195 yards in opposition to the Ravens.

While the Chiefs’ general protection improved dramatically by means of the second half of the season, they may have their fingers full with the Titans’ operating recreation. That was the case in Week 10, when Tennessee out-rushed visiting Kansas City 225-97 and upset the Chiefs with a last-minute Ryan Tannehill landing go. The Chiefs’ finest protection in the rematch, then, shall be their finest offensive participant.

Tennessee’s protection is respectable, nevertheless it’s not a juggernaut. The Titans took benefit of a limping Patriots offense in the wild-card spherical, they usually beat the Ravens due to good situational soccer — actually not as a result of they shut down Lamar Jackson and Co., who managed 530 complete yards in the loss.

Patrick Mahomes presents Tennessee a distinct sort of problem along with his MVP arm and, primarily based on what he did in opposition to the Texans, an obvious willingness to select up key yardage along with his legs. He and the Chiefs have been on a roll since that November loss to the Titans, a seven-game profitable streak in complete.

It will proceed with vengeance in opposition to Tennessee and a visit to South Florida.

Pick: Chiefs 34, Titans 28

Aaron Rodgers

  • NFC championship recreation: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-7)

Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, Fox

The 49ers ought to win this recreation for thus many causes. They’re at residence, the place they smoked the Packers on a Sunday night time in Week 12. Their offense, based on a trusty operating recreation and supplemented by a handful of strong receiving targets for a easy quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, is clicking. Their protection, now absolutely wholesome and as dominant up entrance as anyone in the NFL, is at full power. Green Bay shouldn’t have any probability.

Just just like the Titans did not have an opportunity in opposition to the Patriots or the Ravens in these wacky NFL playoffs. Just just like the Vikings did not have an opportunity in opposition to the Saints. Just just like the Texans had been pronounced useless in the primary half in opposition to the Bills. Just just like the Chiefs had been buried by a disastrous first quarter in opposition to the Texans.

Conventional knowledge is ineffective in the NFL, and the 2020 postseason is an ideal instance of why. While the Packers are large underdogs in opposition to the 49ers in the NFC championship recreation with good motive, it isn’t like Green Bay, which gained 13 games in coach Matt LaFleur’s first season, is a pushover.

After the Packers beat the Seahawks in the divisional spherical, SN’s Vinnie Iyer pinned 4 issues they should repeat in the title recreation to upset the 49ers. First, they should defend Aaron Rodgers. Even with Bryan Bulaga set to return at proper deal with, that is Green Bay’s greatest problem, as a result of San Francisco’s go rush is relentless.

Second, the Packers want get Davante Adams open. As lengthy as they will maintain their No. 1 receiver away from Richard Sherman, that is potential. Third, they should convert on third downs. We belief Rodgers to do exactly that. Finally, they should cease the 49ers’ operating recreation. This is the place Kenny Clark comes in.

Everything Green Bay must fall into place in opposition to San Francisco has a good probability to do exactly that, particularly with no climate considerations in Santa Clara. The Packers will not have any points with the climate in Miami, both.

Pick: Packers 27, 49ers 24


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