NFL

NFL Championship Games Tips: Back Chiefs & Niners to book Super Bowl spots

Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes can lead the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl

Paul Higham has his game previews and best bets from the AFC and NFC Championship games on Sunday as we find out who will contest this year's Super Bowl...


We're just one game away from knowing who'll play in the Super Bowl in Las Vegas in February, and this really is the final hurdle you do not want to fall at.

San Francisco and Baltimore will stage Sunday's two matches, with the 49ers favourites to beat the fairytale Detroit Lions, while the Ravens are fancied to end a huge defence of their Super Bowl title by the Kansas City Chiefs.

They're two games that could go either way though, so let's dive right in...


Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl.jpg

Match Odds: 8/52.60 | 1/21.50
Points Spread: Ravens -3.5
Total Over/Under: 44.5

Lamar Jackson is odds-on for the MVP, Patrick Mahomes is already a likely Hall of Famer, but it's the top two scoring defences and their team's run games that could decide this one.

Josh Allen and the Bills ran all over KC, and the defending champs just have to find a way to slow Jackson down and force him to win it through the air - which will be much easier for Jackson if tight end Mark Andrews is fit.

Mahomes is facing the first defence ever to lead the league in points allowed, sacks and takeaways, on their home patch, but that first road play-off win last week will have done wonders.

And this is a sixth AFC Championship game for Mahomes but a first for Jackson - and a first to be held in Baltimore since 1971. That's a lot of pressure for the home side to carry.

Back Chiefs to beat the Ravens @ 13/82.63

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And 3.5 points is a lot to give a team that's 3-2 in the last five AFC title games, only losing those two in overtime and only one by more than three points, so you fancy you should be OK at least backing KC to cover at 1/12.00.

But it should be really close and at the prices I'm happy to ride with the champs to get back to the big dance.

Mahomes is special, he has that Tom Brady aura going on, which makes his team play harder and lift themselves, while also making the other sideline more wary - it's a strange phenomenon but we've seen it before, and these Chiefs are rapidly become the new Patriots.

Props-wise, the Chiefs need Isiah Pacheco to run as hard as he did in Buffalo - Houston managed just 38 rushing yards as Baltimore held the ball for 15 minutes more.

That resulted in what was an even game after three quarters ending up lopsided with Houston's defence gassed - that won't happen here if the Chiefs can run it.

Jackson will have his yards too and undoubtedly find the end zone at 1/12.00, while rookie receiver Rashee Rice is 7/52.40 anytime TD scorer and worth adding as he's been impressive.

Back Mahomes 2+ TD passes, Jackson/Rice anytime TD scorers @ 6/17.00

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Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers

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Match Odds: 3/14.00 | 1/41.25
Points Spread: Niners -7.5
Total Over/Under: 51.5

If we're being honest, we'd just love Dan Campbell's Lions to get to the Super Bowl, something which even though we fancied them to do well this season still seemed impossible.

They've been impressive in the play-offs against a really good team in the Rams and a hot finishing one in the Bucs, while the Niners did not convince as they scraped past Green Bay - but the Packers may have just been the second-best team in the NFC.

So Kyle Shanahan will be better here but so much depends on how healthy Deebo Samuel is, as they're not the same threat without him, as their record reflects. They're 12-1 when he's finished the game this season and 1-4 without him.

Deebo's fitness and last week's display is enough to put the 7.5-point spread in doubt as you know you'll get a full-on display from Detroit - and Jared Goff knows all about playing in San Fran.

Back 49ers to win by 1-13pts @ 6/52.20

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The Lions won't die wondering that's for sure - Campbell has gone for it on fourth down more than anyone since he took the job, and Detroit's liking for blitz with their defensive backs will either give Brock Purdy all kinds of trouble, or openings to find open receivers.

The running games will be key, Christian McCaffrey's dual threat if obvious, but Detroit's David Montgomery and especially rookie Jahmyr Gibbs offer a route to success for the Lions.

Gibbs, who is 7/42.75 to find the end zone, scored a game-breaking TD against the Bucs and if Detroit get him and Montgomery motoring then that not only keeps the Niners off the field but opens up play-action for Goff.

Amon-Ra St Brown and Sam LaPorta also offer a huge TD threat for Detroit, who after hosting their first play-off game for 30 years, winning their first for 32 years are now looking to make their first ever Super Bowl.

This could be a belter, but I think the Lions will come up just short.

Back Gibbs 50+ rush yards, McCaffrey & St Brown anytime TDs @ 5/16.00

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