NFL Conference Championship Predictions


Source: NFL Youtube Channel

Jacob Chaimovitch and Josh Hobbs

A weekend of chaos in the Divisional Round can only lead to more chaos in the Conference Championship games. After a massive upset in Baltimore, and an absolute thriller in Kansas City, the AFC Championship is set, with the Chiefs hosting the Titans this Sunday. In the NFC the 49ers took care of business in their victory over the Minnesota Vikings and will face Green Bay, who picked up a close win at home against Seattle. If the previous games are any indication of what is going to happen in the Conference Championship matches, these upcoming games are sure to be must-watch events. Let us break down both of these matches in-depth, and what we predict will happen come Sunday. 

          Kansas City vs Tennessee

          Spread: KC -7.5

          Over/Under: 52


The first matchup of Conference Championship Weekend features two hottest teams that came into playoffs. Tennessee has beaten all odds in its first two playoff matchups, going into Foxborough and beating the G.O.A.T., and then heading into Baltimore against the regular season MVP and ‘robbing the Bank’. On the other hand, you have the scariest team left in the playoffs, coming off a classic comeback with confidence at all-time highs. 

When I look at this matchup, the first thing I think about is how will the Chiefs be able to contain the monster which is Derrick Henry. The Chiefs already faced the Titans this season back in Week 10. For anyone who didn’t watch that game, or is foggy on what happened, I’ll quickly summarize. Derrick Henry blasted the Chiefs D with well over 150 yards and two touchdowns, but that is not why the Titans came out with the W. The Chiefs had a five-point lead heading into the final minutes of the game when the Chiefs field goal unit messed up the snap, and ultimately led to the Titans crawling back and winning the game. The main point is that the Chiefs have shown the ability to compete with this old-school Titans team, and for anyone who points to the result of that matchup back in November, let me tell you that both of these teams are drastically different from what they were in November.

In this game, I expect the Titans to keep relying on Derrick Henry to carry their offense, with an all-out ground and pound against a Chiefs defense that isn’t great at stopping the run. The key matchup that is not being talked about more is that the Titans secondary has not been good this year, as they rank (insert stat). They also have not had a good pass rush all season, as they rank (insert stat). As we saw from the previous Chiefs matchup last weekend, teams that rank low in both these categories, as well as teams who face the Chiefs twice this season (both Texans and Titans), do not fair well.  I expect the Chiefs to strike early and often, not allowing the Titans to play their style of ground and pound as much as they would want to. Look for the Chiefs to comfortably win this matchup. 

X-Factor: Andy Reid

Chiefs Head Coach has had an ugly history when it comes to big primetime games, with his record a lowly 13-14 in all playoff games he has coached. Now more than ever, Reid has a prime opportunity to prove his doubters wrong, and show the football world that he can get to the ‘Big Dance’. I believe that if Reid sticks with the same style of play calling he had against the Texans last weekend, the Titans are going to really struggle to keep up with the league’s best offense. 

Prediction: Chiefs 33, Titans 21


The Underdog vs The Arguable Favorite. The Chiefs plowed through the Texans after a rough first quarter, scoring 41 unanswered points to the tune of a 51-31 victory. The Titans, meanwhile, had to go through the Patriots and Ravens on the road and did so successfully. This will definitely be an interesting matchup in Kansas City, considering the firepower that has been shown on both sides of the ball for both teams.

Injuries and who stays healthy will also play a huge part. Currently for the Titans, LB Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans, as well as WR Adam Humphries, were all limited participants to practice at the time of this article going up. The Chiefs, however, have some bigger issues. DT Chris Jones did not practice at all and TE Travis Kelce was a limited participant. Both are huge parts of the Chiefs team on both sides of the ball. Without them, Kansas City may struggle.

I could talk about the Week 10 matchup that these two teams had and look at it like the Week 6 matchup the Chiefs had with the Texans. Truth be told, that would just be a waste of time and space. The Titans, quite frankly, got lucky. Sure, they still had to crawl back with their last possession but if that field goal goes in and everything goes right, it becomes an eight-point lead and the Chiefs win that game. These two teams are evenly matched, more than some people think, and it will be interesting to see who comes out of the AFC as champion.

X-Factor: Anyone on the Titans Offense that isn’t Derrick Henry. 

This much is obvious, but it will also be the key to the Titans’ success. Derrick Henry will show up big time as he has in the past two postseason games. What matters more is QB Ryan Tannehill, WR A.J. Brown, and the O-Line. The Titans may have it easy if Chiefs DT Chris Jones stays on the shelf with the same calf injury that put him on the shelf against the Texans. Henry will show up, but the rest of the offense needs to be present as well, if not more, in order for the Titans to win.

Prediction: Titans 24, Chiefs 28

          San Francisco vs Green Bay

          Spread: SF -7.5

          Over/Under: 45


Unlike the AFC, both of the top teams in the NFC remain standing after the Divisional Round last weekend. The 49ers have been in contention for the top team in the league for nearly the entire season. Besides a home loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the 49ers have not had a bad game all year, and have proven that they can win a substantial amount of games with Jimmy Garrapolo at QB. Quite differently, the Packers have been up and down all year but still managed to boast a 13-3 record this season. While that record, combined with star players like QB Aaron Rodgers and RB Aaron Jones might seem quite intimidating at first glance, the Packers have arguably been one of the weaker teams in the entire playoffs this season. Looking back at their regular season schedule, not one win they had was overly impressive, and to be quite honest, more times than not, their play looked more negative than positive. Nevertheless, the Packers have made it this far, and look to punch in their first Superbowl ticket since 2010. 

Like the AFC matchup, the Packers and 49ers already faced each other earlier in the regular season, with the 49ers destroying the Packers by a score of 37-8. While looking back at the regular season is mostly a waste of time, it should not be understated that Packers have been relatively consistent this year, in that they win ugly, and have not beaten an opponent this season that is a serious Superbowl contender. 

X-Factor: 49ers D-Line

The front seven of the 49ers is arguably the best in football, headlined by their all first-round pick D-line. Rookie Nick Bosa has had a great rookie campaign, showing he was the true number one overall pick in terms of talent. Expect both Bosa and Dee Ford to give Aaron Rodgers trouble in the pocket, forcing him to throw the ball away, more times than make the superb play. 

Prediction: 49ers 27, Packers 23


The Packers continue to prove people wrong, but can they continue their hot streak against the hottest team in the NFC? That is the question heading into Santa Clara on Sunday. The Packers proved they could get it done against a good team in the form of the Seattle Seahawks. An early 21-3 lead was held and padded by Green Bay in the second half. The 49ers relied on their strong run game and their potent defense to lead them past Minnesota. It will be interesting to see which side of either team we see on Sunday.

In their only previous matchup this season, during Week 12, the 49ers thumped the Packers. QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 253 yards, 129 to TE George Kittle. It was embarrassing for Green Bay, but they’ll look to rebound on Sunday. After all, playoff Rodgers is a different beast and he will be tough to stop.

X-Factor: Packers Linebackers.

Those would be MLB Blake Martinez and OLBs Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith (provided that Smith gets healthy). Without those three, the Packers would be in a different place this season. They have accounted for 28.5 of the Packers’ 41 sacks during the regular season and each forced a fumble. The three of them are disruptive to any offense they face and have the ability to control the pace of the game at any given moment. If they show up against a young QB like Garoppolo, and it’s over for the Niners.

Prediction: Packers 31, 49ers 28 in OT