Then there were four

AFC and NFC Championship game predictions


Photo by Zach Bollinger.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks up at the Lucas Oil Stadium scoreboard amidst a 20-17 loss vs. the Colts on Sept. 25, 2022.

    This past weekend’s games wrapped up the NFL divisional round, being highlighted by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs prevailing in a close 27-20 win against the Jaguars that saw Mahomes briefly go down with an injury. The Eagles dismantled the Giants rushing for nearly 270 rushing yards on six yards per attempt and three scores as they triumphantly won 38-7. The Bengals’ offensive line and defense shined as they put a 27-10 beating on the Bills to start off Sunday’s slate. To wrap up the weekend, the 49ers outlasted the Cowboys 19-12 in a defensive battle that saw both teams manage just three yards per carry and have sub-55 quarterback ratings (QBR). Overall, I went 2-2 on my predictions last week to move my overall record to 7-3. Now, let us get right into these great conference championship matchups. 



#2 49ers @ #1 Eagles`

Jan 29

3:00 p.m. EST


    This will not be the first time quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts will be going head-to-head, four years ago on Nov. 9, 2019, the two squared off in a great showdown that saw Oklahoma beat Iowa State 42-41. In that star-studded game with six future NFL players between the two schools, according to CFBReference, the two quarterbacks combined for 11 total touchdowns and eight through the air as Purdy overcame a 42-28 fourth-quarter deficit. Iowa State and Purdy had a chance to go for two and win, rather Purdy threw an interception and the comeback attempt fell short. Nonetheless, both quarterbacks have now wound up in the NFC championship game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Although it was not an eye-popping offensive masterpiece against the Cowboys, Purdy and the offense still drove down the field with ease, they just kept settling for field goals rather than finishing in the endzone like they are used to. The Brock Purdy-George Kittle connection was still prevalent as the two connected for 95 yards, and the defense was incredibly impressive holding the Cowboys to just 13 points and intercepting Dak Prescott twice. However, CeeDee Lamb was able to take the top off their defense with 10 catches for 117 yards, but the other six eligible receivers had 13 catches for 89 yards so they kept everyone else in check. The Eagles were able to do whatever they wanted with the Giants in their 38-7 triumph, which according to StatMuse is the third-largest point differential in the divisional round this century. Hurts had three total touchdowns in the first half alone and running backs Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders combined for over 200 yards themselves. Head coach Nick Sirianni has the Eagles playing their best football right now, but so does Kyle Shannahan with the 49ers. With Jalen Hurts and the offensive line being the only true positional advantages the Eagles have, I just cannot see the 49ers losing this one. Hurts is able to win just off of pure willpower and we saw that against the Lions, Cardinals, Packers, Bears and Colts. However, being able to rely on just one guy usually does not work in the playoffs. The 49ers’ defense is playing its best football, the offense is still great and the Eagles’ defense is not near the quality of the Cowboys. With big games from Kittle, McCaffrey and the defense I got Purdy and the 49ers pulling this one out in a classic. 49ers 31 Eagles 27.



#3 Bengals @ #1 Chiefs

Jan 29

6:30 p.m. EST


    Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes have faced off three times in their careers including last year’s AFC Championship game. All three games were decided by three points and all three were won by the Bengals. Burrow has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception in the three outings including his 250-yard, two-touchdown performance in the AFC Championship game last year. Mahomes, on the other hand, has thrown for 750 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions that both came in last year’s championship matchup. Although the passing numbers have been impressive, that is to be expected with two of the league’s best passers. What will win the game Sunday night is whichever team can control the ground game. Outside of their first matchup that saw Burrow throw for nearly 450 yards and four touchdowns, the Bengals have won the game by limiting turnovers and changing the pace with efficient runs. Samaje Perine had 106 yards in their win against the Chiefs in week 13 this season and Joe Mixon had 88 yards during the championship game last year. According to ESPN, the Bengals have won by two or more scores each time Mixon goes over 100, including his 105-yard display last week against the Bills. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have had just one 100-yard rusher all season and came close last week with Isiah Pacheco pouring on 95 yards against the Jaguars. These teams are like carbon copies of each other, and history has shown that with each of their past three games being so close. However, right now and as of late, the Bengals have just impressed me more. If the Bengals play anywhere as they did against the Bills, I do not see any team stopping them from reaching the Super Bowl for a second straight year. With big games from Burrow, Mixon and JaMarr Chase I have the Bengals winning another close one against the Chiefs and Burrow becoming more widely thought of as the best quarterback in the league. Bengals 33 Chiefs 31


    The conference championship round has given us some all-time great matchups in years past, so just sit back, relax and watch some great football this Sunday.