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  • Writer's pictureNathan Dunn

NFL Championship Sunday Preview

Sunday's NFL Championship games will determine which two teams meet up in the Super Bowl.

Only four teams are left standing with a shot at winning Super Bowl LVIII. Sunday’s afternoon matchup will crown either the Kansas City Chiefs or Baltimore Ravens as AFC champions while the evening matchup of the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers will determine the NFC champions.

Two teams will be left standing with their tickets punched to Las Vegas after Sunday’s conference championships. Let’s take a closer look at both matchups and how they have fared in the playoffs.

AFC Championship

The Chiefs visit Baltimore after Patrick Mahomes earned his first road playoff victory in an entertaining Divisional Round win over the Buffalo Bills. Mahomes and the Chiefs are eager to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the Patriots went back-to-back in 2004-05.

The Chiefs have shown some late-season improvements since their Christmas Day loss to the Raiders. They have taken better care of the ball, though still could improve. Both of the Chiefs’ turnovers in the playoffs have come from fumbles, including an untimely Mecole Hardman fumble out of the end zone. The Chiefs have also shown improvements in penalties by having fewer penalties than their opponents in the previous two playoff games, getting flagged just twice last week. The offensive line has stepped up its game and has not given up a sack this postseason after a dreadful regular season.

The Ravens enter as the top seed in the AFC after a 13-4 regular season record and a 34-10 win over the Texans in the Divisional Round. Quarterback Lamar Jackson displayed his MVP-level ability as he threw two touchdowns with just 152 passing yards, but ran for 100 yards with another pair of rushing touchdowns. Baltimore converted both fourth down attempts and held Houston scoreless in the second half as they ran away with a 24-point win despite allowing three sacks.

While it’s hard to bet against the Ravens, it’s even harder to bet against Mahomes in the playoffs. I think the Chiefs continue their late-season progression and get back to the Super Bowl once again.

NFC Championship

The Lions are looking to return to the pinnacle of the NFL for the first time since being crowned NFL champs during the pre-Super Bowl era in 1957. The Lions are making just their second-ever NFC Championship appearance and looking for their first Super Bowl appearance. But they have a quarterback who has been there and done that before in Jared Goff, who helped the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl matchup with the Patriots in 2019.

Detroit beat the Rams 24-23 in the Wild Card before a road victory over the Buccaneers 31-23 in the Divisional Round. Despite giving up more than 350 passing yards in each of the past two games while Goff has been held under 300 yards in the air, the Lions carved out nervy wins. The Lions lost the total yards advantage in the previous two games, but haven’t had any turnovers or fumbles while getting the edge in rushing yards and first downs.

The 49ers are in their third straight NFC Championship game, hoping to finally get back over the hump that has halted their dreams of ending a drought of more than three decades long without a Super Bowl. They are also hoping to book a rematch of either Super Bowl LIV, when they lost to the Chiefs, or Super Bowl XLVII, when they lost to the Ravens. As the Super Bowl favorite, the 49ers are feeling all the pressure.

The 49ers posted a 12-5 regular season record to earn a first-round bye before defeating the Packers 24-21 in last week’s Divisional Round. While narrowly losing the first downs and time of possession battles, the 49ers won the total yards challenge while quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 252 yards with a touchdown. Christian McCaffrey ran for two touchdowns, falling just shy of 100 yards.

I think the 49ers force a rematch of Super Bowl LIV. San Francisco has the experience to overcome their greatest fear of another NFC Championship failure while the Lions’ dream season will come to an end against a solid 49ers team.

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