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By: Brandon Lee Gowton
Predicting the winners of this week’s NFL games.
The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for the Conference Championship Round of the 2022 NFL Playoffs! Four teams are vying for the privilege of playing in Super Bowl LVI.
The AFC Championship Game features the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Cincinnati Bengals while the San Francisco 49ers are traveling to play the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. The home teams are unsurprisingly the betting favorites, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
When it comes to BGN’s pick standings, I’ve ascended to a first-place tie with the BGN Community. With three total games left to go, this race is coming down to the wire. I’m also tied with Tyler Jackson in the playoff pick standings.
Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games by using the polls beneath the table.
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Since there are only two games this week, the BGN staff gave some explanations for their picks.
BRANDON LEE GOWTON
Chiefs – I really want to take the Bengals. I made Cincy my Super Bowl pick prior to the playoffs beginning. And I did it because I really believe in Joe Burrow. But the combination of his offensive line concerns me, as does the inevitability of the Chiefs. Plus, I’m trying to win this competition, and the Bengals are too risky of a pick.
Rams – Ugh. I’d hate to see Sean McVay in the Super Bowl. And I can’t say I have unshakeable confidence in Matthew Stafford. But it just feels like the 49ers are defying logic by continuing to win. I mean, Jimmy Garoppolo was clearly the worst remaining starting quarterback entering last week. He’s still yet to even throw a touchdown in the postseason. Doesn’t feel sustainable! I know the 49ers own the Rams, so I could regret this.
Please note that my hedging in both of these pick explanations was a tribute to McVay’s cowardice.
Chiefs – I’d love to ride with Joe Burrow and the Bengals here, but after going 0-4 in my picks in the Divisional Round, perhaps aligning with them would be a kiss of death. In what has instantaneously gone down as one of the greatest games in NFL history, Kansas City showcased why a Patrick Mahomes-led attack is one of the greatest offensive forces ever on Sunday. Josh Allen played as masterful of a game as possible for the Bills and it still wasn’t enough to give Buffalo the win. I’m sick of seeing the Mahomes-Andy Reid pairing in the Super Bowl already, but it may be happening for the third-consecutive year.
49ers – I can’t actually pick Sean McVay, right? It’d be antithetical to my brand. Jimmy Garoppolo might not be the most obvious quarterback to back in a huge game, but he did win in this spot just two years ago. Please don’t let McVay advance, Kyle Shanahan.
Chiefs – Chiefs 42, Bengals 24. The last time these two teams met in Cincy officiating kept drives alive for the Bengals and Ja’Marr Chase had a historic performance. I would expect the Bengals to keep pace briefly but their offensive line is a huge liability against a front that features Chris Jones, Melvin Ingram and Frank Clark. As already evidenced by last week’s shootout against Buffalo, the Chiefs’ offense is in prime form, hosting instead of traveling this time.
Rams – Rams 27, 49ers 10. Eventually the law of averages has to come into play for the Rams, right? They’ve lost six straight to San Francisco, a team they see twice a year! This is what the Rams have spent the last three season gearing up for, trading for some of the biggest names in the sport in an effort to get back to the Super Bowl. The Rams have the better QB, they have two of the best defenders in the game in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey with Von Miller in the mix. It also seems highly unlikely the 49ers can overcome the shortcomings of Jimmy Garoppolo as they have in the previous two games.
Chiefs – What a matchup… Two young superstar quarterbacks set to battle for a Super Bowl appearance might just be the most exciting situation you can hope for as a football fan and that is what we have here. Two unstoppable offenses teeming with playmakers should lead to a high scoring game in which either team has a real shot to win, however Andy Reid’s masterful playcalling paired with the experience edge Mahomes has over Burrow should lead to a victory for the Chiefs. Chiefs 30, Bengals 27.
49ers – It seems that in 2022, the old adage of defense wins championships may not be so accurate, as this game features two more teams capable of putting on a display. This game should be a little easier to predict, however as the 49ers seem to have the key to success against Sean McVay and the Rams. I expect the 49ers to win in a dramatic fashion. 49ers 27, Rams 17.
Bengals – My heart says Bengals and my head says Chiefs, but given Cincinnati’s rare opportunity to actually extend their playoff run, I don’t see them squandering it. There really are few words to describe the kind of offensive feat the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes pulled off on Sunday against the Bills, but that kind of performance seems difficult to replicate. I see them being a real challenge for the Bengals secondary, but ultimately, I think Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense keep up enough to stay in the game and pull off the win.
49ers – The Niners should not win this game, but it feels like they’ll be able to squeak it out. Sure, the Rams were able to stave off a last minute collapse and come back by Tom Brady last week, but the fact that they let the Bucs get that far back into the game after being up three scores says more to me than their victory. I want Matthew Stafford to win, but unfortunately, I think the Niners defense will be more than the Rams’ offense can handle. Plus, San Francisco will be back in a more familiar climate for this matchup, and should be much faster and more efficient than they were in the snow in Green Bay.
Well, I’m 3-7 in the playoffs so far so, if you’re reading this, thank you for your charity.
Chiefs – My heart wants to pick the Bengals and see a rematch of two classic Super Bowls from the 1980s, and Cincinnati can absolutely get there with an all-world quarterback in Joe Burrow and studs at the skill positions like WRs JaMarr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, as well as running back Joe Mixon. Their most glaring weakness, offensive line, was manhandled by a Titans defense that sacked Burrow an NFL record nine times. While that won’t happen again, Kansas City’s pressure could pose a big problem for Burrow. Not only that, how do you stop a Chiefs team that defeated a Buffalo Bills team in the fashion they did? How do you pick against Patrick Mahomes, a postseason assassin who has been here, in this exact spot, three times before? Andy Reid is, outside of Bill Belichick, still the best head coach in football and will have his ultra talented team ready to go back to the Super Bowl. It’ll be high scoring, but in the end, it’ll be Chiefs 35, Bengals 31.
49ers – The only thing I’ve gotten right this year was the San Francisco 49ers. At the beginning of the season, they were my pick to win the Super Bowl, over the Tennessee Titans. Despite being just the No. 6 seed, they’ve knocked off two behemoths in the Cowboys and Packers, both on the road, and now they face a divisional opponent who they have already beaten twice this year. Kyle Shanahan is working his magic with his use of WR Deebo Samuel, creating mismatches all over the field with George Kittle and the rest of his receiving corps. And that San Francisco defense is legit. Nick Bosa is an absolute beast. The Rams’ defense, however, is even better, and it’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season. These two teams know each other extremely well, and the Matthew Stafford-Cooper Kupp connection seems unstoppable. This should also be a close, defense-first affair, but I do think the Niners advance to the Super Bowl with a thrilling 24-23 win, their third straight on the road in the postseason.
Chiefs – The Bengals are hard to bet against given Joe Burrow’s constant overcoming of odds against him. However, where Burrow has magic, the Chiefs have even more. Kansas City’s offense is firing on all cylinders right now and they have just enough defensive firepower to outlast the Bengals in what should be a high scoring game.
49ers – Kyle Shanahan has gone 7-3 against Sean McVay, including going 2-0 this year against a very talented Rams team. While the Niners offense will be challenged, their defense has continually given Matt Stafford company fits. The Niners should win in a close one.
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Originally posted on Bleeding Green Nation