10 of Prime Time Sports Talk’s NFL experts came together to share their picks ahead of what is sure to be an eventful conference championship round of the playoffs.
Jayton Washington: 6-for-8
Joe Heller: 6-for-8
David Taylor: 3-for-4
Alex Jordan: 3-for-4
Andersen Pickard: 4-for-8
Ryan Potts: 3-for-8
Celeste Sabin: 3-for-8
Chris Totaro: 3-for-8
John Devereaux: 1-for-4
Kyle Porch: 1-for-4
Brian Wolf: 1-for-4
David Fernandez: 0-for-0
Michael Pallas: 0-for-0
Tennessee Titans (6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2)
Brian Wolf: Chiefs 35, Titans 24
The Chiefs are riding a seven-game winning streak, with their last loss coming in Week 10 at the hands of the Titans. For Kansas City, it all depends on the play of tight end, Travis Kelce. For Tennessee, what type of performance will they get from running back Derrick Henry?
Ryan Potts: Titans 30, Chiefs 25
In the lab that Derrick Henry was made in, one of the main ingredients added was the playoff destruction capabilities of 1997 Terrell Davis. Davis was Super Bowl MVP over the Packers. Conspiracy alert.
Michael Pallas: Titans 24, Chiefs 21
This is a major weakness going up against a major strength. The Chiefs allowed 4.9 yards per carry this season (including in the playoffs), and the strength of the Titans is their running game. In a nail-biter, the Titans win because Patrick Mahomes just won’t have enough possessions.
John Devereaux: Titans 27, Chiefs 24
I’m on the hype train of Tennessee, and the key to this game is their secondary. If the Titans can stop Mahomes every other drive from scoring three or more points, they have a win. Derrick Henry is an unstoppable force and the Chiefs’ defense had not looked fantastic in last week’s game against Houston. A Tennessee versus San Francisco Super Bowl would be a Super Bowl full of comeback stories.
Chris Totaro: Chiefs 31, Titans 20
The Titans have played nearly impeccable football so far in the playoffs. Derrick Henry has been sensational, Ryan Tannehill has played mistake-free, and the defense has been on point. Henry may run wild again against the Chiefs, but I don’t think the Titans will be able to put up enough points to keep up with the Chiefs’ incredible offense.
Celeste Sabin: Chiefs 31, Titans 28
As tempting as it may be to pick Tennessee for the upset over Kansas City at home, at the end of the game, the Chiefs will be the team advancing to the Super Bowl. Both teams have strong offensive lines, but Mahomes and co., including Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, will be stronger than the Titans’ offense led by Ryan Tannehill and dominated by running back Derrick Henry. Both teams have great momentum leading up to this game, but the experience of Kansas City’s coaching staff will prove to be the team’s strength over the Titans.
Joe Heller: Titans 34, Chiefs 24
Like the Patriots and Ravens, the Chiefs’ defense won’t be able to stop Derrick Henry. On the other side of the ball, the defense shut down both teams’ offenses, so they’ll be ready.
David Taylor: Titans 19, Chiefs 14
The only way to cover the Chiefs is to keep them on the sideline. Derrick Henry will do just that with a huge rushing day.
David Fernandez: Chiefs 31, Titans 21
Sure, Tennessee won the Week 10 matchup between these two teams, but it took a special performance from Derrick Henry to do so. That Week 10 loss is actually the last time Kansas City has come up on the losing end this season. The Chiefs’ offense is humming these days, and if they can limit Henry to around 100 yards, they should win this one.
Andersen Pickard: Titans 34, Chiefs 27
Wow, this is going to be a good football game. Derrick Henry will be fueled by Frank Clark’s comments much like he was by Earl Thomas’s remarks last week en route to a game with 150 yards on the ground and 30 more through the air. Mike Vrabel will simply outsmart Andy Reid and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field, leaving the Chiefs in a position they will not want to be in. Ryan Tannehill is going to the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers (2) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1)
Brian Wolf: 49ers 31, Packers 17
The 49ers dominated the Packers, 37-8, in Week 12 and they should do the same in the NFC Championship. Jimmy Garoppolo does not get the respect he deserves and he will prove Sunday evening he is among the best in the game. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have built a solid bond, but the 49ers’ front four will be too much.
Ryan Potts: Packers 24, 49ers 21
The 49ers don’t have the experience of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers will play with a chip on his shoulder and deliver a vintage performance to take the Packers to a Super Bowl for the second time in his career.
Michael Pallas: 49ers 35, Packers 31
Aaron Rodgers finally has a running game, and this is as close to an even matchup in the NFC Championship as you can get. This one comes down to the 49er’s pass rush, and that’s going to be the deciding factor. The 49ers will win since they will be harassing Rodgers all day.
John Devereaux: 49ers 27, Packers 17
Football championships are back in the bay. With the hot streak that the 49ers are riding thanks to both their offense and defense, I do not see this game being close past halftime. Aaron Rodgers will be shut down through the air and it will be tough for Aaron Jones to have a huge game against this defense.
Chris Totaro: 49ers 34, Packers 31
The Packers survived and the 49ers won handily in the divisional round. To win this game, the Packers must get Aaron Jones going on the ground, but against a stout defense that the 49ers have, I don’t see that happening. It will be up to Aaron Rodgers to take over the game. I think the 49ers will continue being successful in their ground-and-pound approach and come away with a close win.
Celeste Sabin: 49ers 45, Packers 32
Surely San Francisco advances to the Super Bowl. They have home-field advantage and the momentum of not only a winning season but a complete turnaround from last season. Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel have the passing and rushing talent to get by Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith on the Packers’ defense, and Nick Bosa and the rest of the 49ers’ defensive line will keep Rodgers from throwing to or rushing towards the end zone.
Joe Heller: 49ers 41, Packers 31
The 49ers blew out the Packers during the season. While I don’t see this game being that lopsided this time, the 49ers are the better team.
David Taylor: 49ers 24, Packers 18
George Kittle will prove to be too difficult for the Packers to cover.
David Fernandez: Packers 28, 49ers 24
San Francisco dominated the Week 12 game between these two, winning 37-8. The Packers’ offense was completely absent in that one. But the emergence of Davante Adams as a legitimate No. 1 receiver has unlocked things for Aaron Rodgers as of late. If the Packers’ offensive line can hold up against the San Francisco pass rush, Rodgers should be able to get points on the board.
Andersen Pickard: 49ers 32, Packers 22
This game could be more of a nail-biter than people are projecting, but no matter what, the 49ers will emerge victorious. The San Francisco pass rush is terrifying while Jimmy Garoppolo knows how to find guys like George Kittle and Raheem Mostert at the right time for big plays. Expect Kyle Shanahan to make smart yet somewhat risky decisions, such as a couple of two-point conversions and a fake punt or two.