Expert NFL Best Bets: Picks and predictions for Conference Championships

Zachary Cohen runs through his NFL best bets for the AFC and NFC Championship Games, featuring Chiefs vs. Ravens and Lions vs. 49ers.

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Jan 20, 2024; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) celebrates scoring a touchdown in the third quarter with fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) and offensive tackle Colton McKivitz (68) against the Green Bay Packers in a 2024 NFC divisional round game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, I’m giving out my NFL best bets for the weekend’s games. This week, we have two good ones for the NFL Conference Championships. These games will determine who we’ll see in the Super Bowl, so I’m looking forward to watching them. Keep reading to find out what I have for the AFC Championship Game and NFC Championship Game. And make sure you also check out what my talented VSiN colleagues are playing. Those plays, along with all of our NFL content for the week, are available at our Conference Championship NFL Bet Hub. You can also get all of our picks for the week on the Pro Picks page

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NFL Best Bets Record: 41-32-1 (+6.33 units)

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens – 3:00 pm ET

I did a longer betting preview for this specific game, so I’ll keep it short with my NFL best bet for this one. This is just a really tough match-up for the Chiefs. I know how easy it can be to make the decision to back Patrick Mahomes with the points, but this Kansas City offense struggled all year. So, I find it hard to buy into what we’ve seen these last few weeks. And this league-best Ravens defense is a heck of a lot better than the two defenses Mahomes has seen in the playoffs thus far. The offensive line play for Kansas City is especially concerning here. It’s a middle-of-the-pack group, and Baltimore is talented along the defensive front.

I also just don’t think the Chiefs defense will be able to stop the Ravens ground game. Whether it’s the running backs or Lamar Jackson, I like the Ravens to pick up chunk yardage on the ground. That will then open up the passing game in a big way. Overall, I like Baltimore to win this game by a touchdown or more.

Bet: Ravens -3.5 (-115 – Play to -4)

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers – 6:30 pm ET

I really wanted to play the 49ers here, but I don’t feel comfortable laying a touchdown. However, I do think there will be a ton of points scored in this game. I know people tend to worry about Jared Goff in road games, but the Detroit running game should make things pretty easy on him. The 49ers aren’t very good against the run this year, which is something that the Lions will look to exploit. Detroit has an excellent rushing attack, so Jahmyr Gibbs will be a player to watch here. And if the Lions do successfully run the football, Goff will be able to play off that. He’s one of the better play-action passers in football. So, I like Detroit to contribute to an Over here.

As for the 49ers, I’m really not too worried about them. I know Brock Purdy struggled last week, but this is one of the best offenses in the league. I just don’t see San Francisco being kept down in back-to-back weeks, and the team will also be working against a mediocre Detroit defense. This Lions team was just 16th in the league in DVOA against the pass, so Purdy should make some big plays through the air. Also, while Detroit is first in DVOA against the run, I don’t think anybody is really capable of stopping Christian McCaffrey and the San Francisco running game. So, I’m expecting a big number out of the 49ers.

It’s also worth noting that the Over is 11-3 when San Francisco is favored by 7 or less at home over the last three seasons.

Bet: Over 51.5 (-109)

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