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NFL Conference Championship Predictions & Best Bets

Last Updated: Jan 26, 2024

Two teams will pass through the gates to Super Bowl 58 on Sunday, Jan. 28. Three of them aim to add another Lamar Hunt or George Halas trophy to existing display cases, while one team is chasing its first conference championship.

The Kansas City Chiefs are appearing in their sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game. But this will be their first time playing for a Super Bowl berth on the road against a Baltimore Ravens squad that has frequently walloped other winning teams.

The San Francisco 49ers will play in the NFC Conference Championship game for the third consecutive season and fourth in the last five. This is new territory for the Detroit Lions, who are making just their second-ever appearance in the NFC title game.

I am expecting one winning team to cover the spread and the other to cover in defeat. You can view all NFL Conference Championship odds.

All NFL odds are current as of Jan. 25, 2024, at 1 p.m. ET from DraftKings Sportsbook.

NFL Championship Sunday Best Bet

AFC Championship Featured Best Bet

Ravens -4 (-108)

DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1.5 Units

After winning their first road playoff game together, it appears that Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid have not lost the map to the Super Bowl. But they did take advantage of an injury-depleted defense in Buffalo and face a much tougher test against the best Ravens team of the Lamar Jackson era so far.

The Ravens, who are 6-3 ATS as a home favorite and 9-4 ATS in conference games, have convincingly disposed of other playoff teams this season. They held the Texans without an offensive TD in the Wild Card Round, they recently blasted Miami by 37 points, toppled the 49ers on the road, and thrashed the Lions by a 32-point margin.

During the regular season, Baltimore set an NFL record with 10 victories over opponents with winning records and had six wins over NFL playoff teams. The Ravens also became the first team in league history to lead the NFL in the three categories: points allowed (16.5), sacks (60), and takeaways (31), and they also led the NFL in point differential (+203).

This matchup will come down to which defense will make a stop against another superstar QB. I lean to the Ravens in that regard, as this is the thinnest receiving crew of Mahomes’ career, as evidenced by his drop to 27 TD passes during the regular season after finishing with 37-plus in the previous three campaigns.

Travis Kelce is also not the same major threat as in previous years. Yes, he did catch two TD passes against the Bills, but he failed to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in eight seasons and dropped from 12 TD receptions in 2022 to five in ‘23.

Lock in Baltimore to confirm itself as the better team in the AFC Championship as the NFL bet of the day.

NFC Championship Featured Best Bet

Lions +7.5 (-120)

DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit

I believe the 49ers will win the NFC Championship, but I also see this spread as being a bit too large. I will share some ATS trends, via TeamRankings, that further reflect my stance.

San Francisco is 3-6 ATS as a home team and is only 9-9 ATS as a favorite and 6-6 ATS after a win. Detroit is 7-2 ATS as an away team and 10-3 ATS outside of the NFC North.

I don’t see the 49ers’ defense dominating this matchup, and Detroit will have to respond often to San Francisco’s scoring drives. The Packers were able to roll up 330 total yards in the Divisional Round against the Niners, and the Lions’ offense is obviously more potent.

Aaron Jones rushed for 108 yards vs San Francisco last week, and Detroit has its own pair of highly productive RBs. David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs became the first pair of teammates in NFL history each with 1,000-plus scrimmage yards and 10-plus rushing TDs in the same regular season, and Gibbs already has two postseason rushing TDs.

On Pro Football Focus, Amon-Ra St. Brown has a 75.2 WR/CB matchup grade against the San Francisco CBs, which is regarded as “good.” Detroit’s alpha WR had 15 receptions on 23 targets in his first two playoff games, and he faces a 49ers pass defense that allowed 17 TD receptions to WRs during the regular season, which ranked 27th in the NFL.

Sam LaPorta had nine catches last week, the most by a rookie TE in a playoff game all-time. The Lions simply have too much firepower to expect a blowout.

In the postseason in 2024 and 2023, the Brock Purdy-led 49ers beat Green Bay by three points and Dallas by seven points last season. They beat Seattle by 18, but that Seahawks team is not comparable to the 2023 Lions.

Author

Scott Engel

Scott Engel is a Senior Sports Writer at The Game Day. Previously he was at SportsLine.com and The Athletic. His work is also featured at RotoBaller and on Seahawks.com. Scott is a host on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. Scott is a four-time FSWA award winner and a 13-time finalist. He was an Associate Editor and featured writer at ESPN.com. and his career began at CBS SportsLine, where he was a Senior Writer and Managing Editor. Scott was the Managing Director at RotoExperts.

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