NFL Picks - Conference Championship
Wow, what a divisional playoff week it was last week. Our top 2 picks hit big time with Baltimore easily covering a 9.5 and the Chiefs winning straight up at +135, parlay those and you know what I’m talking about. Let’s now get into the conference games.
Kansas City +3.5
Kansas City is getting a modest +3.5 points, but my array of machine learning algorithms is shouting "Baltimore domination" with a double-digit victory. While most are firmly in the Ravens' camp, one outlier algorithm, which has been a bit of a disappointment throughout the year, insists on a Chiefs win. The Prediction Tracker, overseeing a whopping 70-plus automated predictors, reveals that 58% of them are leaning towards a Baltimore cover.
The Chiefs, however, are nursing some defensive wounds. Their run defense faltered against the Bills in the last game, ranking a dismal 27th in the league by DVOA standards. Despite facing a Bills team with a third or fourth-string linebacker and numerous backup defensive players, the Chiefs' offense failed to breach the 40-point mark. On the flip side, the Ravens' defense held strong against the Texans, denying them a single touchdown and maintaining top-tier performance all season. DVOA statistics crown them as the #1 defense against the pass and #7 against the run, allowing only two games with over 30 points scored against them this year.
For those who indulge in conspiracy theories, the Super Bowl logo, decked out in the 49ers and Ravens colors, raises eyebrows. This trend has continued for the past two years, fueling speculation about the powers that are influencing the outcome.
So, why am I putting my money on the Chiefs against the Ravens? Firstly, I confess to being a bandwagon Chiefs fan; this is purely an emotional bet, and I'll be cautious with my stake. Secondly, the combination of Mahomes and Reid, experienced winners in this high-stakes environment, makes the Chiefs a formidable underdog. Thirdly, there's a whimsical conspiracy theory suggesting that for Super Bowl ratings to soar, Taylor Swift needs to grace the stage, perhaps even teaming up with Usher for a halftime extravaganza!
In summary, all signs point to a Baltimore cover, with the majority of bets and money favoring the Ravens. Yet, here I am, swayed by the underdog allure, a dash of conspiracy intrigue, and the Mahomes factor.
Let's dive into the Lions' defensive prowess, ranking #1 against the run but showing vulnerability against the pass. Their ability to stifle the #2 offense in the Packers, shutting down the run, raises expectations. If they replicate this against the 49ers, the onus falls on Purdy to connect with Kittle or Ayuk downfield. Despite Deebo nursing a shoulder injury, Jerry Rice's declaration that he'll play adds pressure – a game of grit or labels.
Switching gears to offense, the Lions claim the #5 spot through the air, but the 49ers soar at #1 with an impressive 58% DVOA. The numbers seem inflated, but it sets up a clash between two potent passing offenses. The dilemma: who won't falter, Purdy or Goff? A tough call, but my money's on the veteran. Both teams boast formidable ground attacks.
Analyzing DVOA differences, SF emerges as the superior team overall. Yet, the Lions, ranking top 5 in almost all offensive and defensive categories, promise a fierce battle. With a 7-point spread, it's intriguing; especially when comparing it to the KC vs. BAL game, where numbers heavily favor the Ravens, yet the spread is a mere 3.5 points. It's a puzzle. While the 49ers might secure the win, we question whether 7 points is too generous for two talented teams locked in a competitive showdown on both sides of the ball.