I am still reeling from last weekend’s NFL Playoff action. Raise your hands if you woke up Monday morning wanting more football.
To recap: Brady and Rodgers got bounced, as did both number one seeds. Three of the four games were decided by last second field goals. All of those were won outright by the underdog. The piece de resistance was one final barnburner between two of the game’s best quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes threw for 177 yards AFTER THE TWO-MINUTE WARNING. And countless NFL fans, many of them undoubtedly residing in Buffalo, brought into question the fairness of the overtime coin toss. Did I miss anything?
No matter how you slice it, we have four teams remaining: Cincinnati, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kansas City. Sorry, East Coast. I guess that means they can officially start the Super Bowl two hours later.
More importantly (I gest), we have a contest in which, believe it or not, everybody is still alive! Not a single person guessed all four games correctly last week, which isn’t all that surprising considering the unpredictability of those lines. I read somewhere that those four games were the closest combined point spreads since the 1960s. That means the NFL has finally achieved in its quest for parity, New York Jets and Giants obviously excluded.
Just like the NFL, we have parity in our contest. With three games left to play, anyone can win this thing. Here are your latest standings…
And now, it’s time for the guy who is tied for last place to make his predictions.
Sunday, 3pm: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
Luckily for the Cincinnati Bengals, who I said last week didn’t know they weren’t supposed to get this far, this game is in the afternoon instead of at night. We all witnessed what sort of magic Patrick Mahomes can pull off in front of an electric crowd. But it really doesn’t matter what time Mahomes plays. He’s magical in Arrowhead period. He is 7-1 career at home in the post-season where he has thrown for 23 touchdowns and only one interception. That’s bordering on insane. Cincinnati’s defense has probably overachieved at this point. They can breakdown all the game film they want from Sunday’s epic contest against the Bills and probably get a headache from watching Mahomes, who has been on a mission since mid-season. The Chiefs have won 11 of their last 12 games, the only loss in that stretch coming to, you guessed it, the Bengals in Cincinnati. If you don’t think for one second the Chiefs aren’t looking to avenge that loss, you’re out of your mind. The Bengals have a bright future, but Mahomes and company are about to remind them, just like they did the Bills on Sunday, that over the next ten or so years, all roads to the Super Bowl must travel through Kansas City. The Chiefs cover the seven points handily.
Sunday, 6:30 pm: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
You’re going to hear a lot this week about how the Niners have the Rams’ number, that they haven’t beaten them this season, either home or away. I’m here to remind you that it’s nearly impossible to beat the same football team three times in the same season. I’m here to remind you that while the Niners have escaped the last two weeks with victory, it has not been pretty. I’m here to remind you that these Rams were constructed for this very reason, to reach, and win, the Super Bowl. The Rams are on a mission. They got over the biggest hump last week by beating the defending Super Bowl champions. They know they are one win away from being only the second team ever to play the Super Bowl in their own home stadium. This roster has veterans like Aaron Donald, Matt Stafford and Odell Beckham that are chomping at the bit to win a ring. You have unstoppable MVP candidate in Cooper Kupp who can strike with a big play at a moment’s notice. You have a coach who wants back there, this time with a quarterback he trusts. And you have former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to show them the way. The Niners’ luck against L.A. runs out on Sunday. After watching incredibly competitive football last weekend, I smell two blowouts this time around. I’ll take the Rams to cover handily as well.
Bengals +7 over Chiefs
In clear violation of rule #3 “Never bet on a road underdog unless you think it can win outright”. I think this will be another close, exciting game, probably will be decided in overtime, thus the 7 point line is just too high. I’m picking the Chiefs to win but not cover 30-24
Rams -3.5 over 49ers
At some point I have to get it right. I’ve bet against these two in the last two rounds and I lost every time. I cannot bet on the niners. Not because I hate them, but because I don’t trust Shanahan and Jimmy G. They can be up by 20 in the 4th and I still think the other team has a chance. I think the Rams will dominate this one and win 35-13.
My picks to cover:
I’m going with Chris’s predictions, including (I think) the blow-out thesis. Plus I think the best Bowl match-up would be Chiefs vs. Rams.
I’m going with Chris’s picks and adopting, in modified form, the blow-out thesis, at least for the AFC. Chiefs will dominate, if not blow them out. I admit I’m hoping for Rams v. Chiefs as the best Bowl match.
Rams 14 over 49rs. Chiefs 23 over Bengals.
Posting my picks at TWHS now – best of luck, all! Enjoy the games…
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (-7) – Queen City Kitties beat the Chefs outright…rules from a guy in last place…harumph..
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) – Jimmy
Garropolo is the Fredo Corleone of the NFL. He somehow manages to enjoy success despite himself, but this is finally the week he gets sent to go fishing. Rams all the way.
KP’s 2022 NFL Conference Championship Picks Against the Spread
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs: OVER 54.5
Joe Burrow is the real deal and yes, he can go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes. Let’s not forget the Bengals defeated the Chiefs 34-31 back on January 2nd. That game was a thriller and Burrow threw for 446 yards. It more so comes down to the Bengals protecting Burrow. Despite throwing for 348 yards last week in Tennessee, Burrow was sacked nine times. Talk about needing an ice bath. The Chiefs had just 31 sacks during the regular season (fourth fewest in the NFL). However, that did include four against the Bengals. The previous meeting between these teams was in Cincinnati. Enter the Arrowhead crowd and yes, Burrow made an interesting comment about that recently.
Expect the Kansas City crowd to be saving their voices for this game. While I think crowd noise will be a factor, weather will not be. The Bengals have had time to focus on its O-Line protection. Kansas City had 13 sacks over its last five games, but my gut says Burrow will find a way with the weapons he has. When we are looking at a likely shootout, I lean on a TD-margin. The line is seven points and I’m not interested in a push. This Bengals team is a group of fighters. So, give me the BENGALS and the points in a close game. Also, I’m calling for two 300-yard passing days for the QB’s. I’ll take the OVER.
San Francisco 49ers (+3.5) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5): UNDER 46
Let’s start with one simple fact: it’s nearly impossible for a team to beat an opponent three times in the same season. There are facts backing this buried in the NFL archives. Ok, probably not buried. Back on November 15th, the Niners beat the Rams 31-10 in San Francisco. In the rematch at SoFi (on January 9th), San Francisco won 27-24 in overtime. I know, don’t mention overtime right now. Let’s avoid a late game coin toss, please. Here are three key differences to consider since those two games: 1) Odell Beckham is certainly more integrated into the Rams offense, 2) With more snaps, Cam Akers has made a major impact to the L.A. run game, and 3) The Rams are trying to find ways to keep San Francisco fans from invading SoFi stadium.
For me, this game comes down to two key matchups. Both defenses can ball out, we know that. It’s which player has a bigger performance: 1) Can the Rams find ways to consistently shut down Deebo Samuel or 2) Will the Niners force numerous mistakes from Matthew Stafford? Stafford proved himself time and time again in the spotlight against a very talented Tampa Bay defense. When it comes down to championship games, it’s almost always quarterback play. Like my belief in Joe Burrow, I have the same gut feeling for Stafford. This is his time. It’ll be a battle, but I believe Stafford makes enough big plays in key moments. The RAMS cover at home. Also, give me the UNDER.
Never mind this. If Tom Brady is still Tampa Bay QB next year, what’s your wager for Game of the Decade, Bengals vs. Buccaneers