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NFL Playoff Predictions 2024: DraftKings Network picks each Conference Championship game

We’re back with more staff picks, this time for the AFC and NFC Championship of the 2024 NFL Playoffs.

Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to the start of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on December 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It’s almost Championship Sunday in the 2024 NFL Playoffs and we’ll soon know which teams will play in this year’s Super Bowl. It’s looking mostly chalky in each conference and we have a chance to see two No. 1 seeds go up against each other, which isn’t a very common feat. The defending champ Kansas City Chiefs can still defend said title by making it back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons. The only team remaining that hasn’t won the Super Bowl is the Detroit Lions, seemingly America’s team in this scenario.

Below the DraftKings Network staff makes their picks for the Conference Championship games.

2024 NFL Playoff Predictions

Conference Championships

Ben Zweiman, Senior Managing Editor

AFC

No. 1 Baltimore Ravens over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs

Really, the only way the Chiefs win is if the Ravens choke or something out of the ordinary happens. Baltimore is a better team on paper and should get even better with TE Mark Andrews expected to return. The one thing I’d worry about with the Ravens is game-planning for Patrick Mahomes, which you really can’t do. But Baltimore can play defense and control the clock by running the ball. Kansas City allowed Bills QB Josh Allen to rush for 72 yards and two TDs. Does that mean we’ll see Ravens QB Lamar Jackson take off?

You could also argue that bone-headed fake punt by Sean McDermott and the missed FG to tie the game late were why Buffalo came up short. Don’t expect that from John Harbaugh and Justin Tucker. The Chiefs are going to have to play a perfect game in order to win this and even then it may not be enough. I’m backing Jackson in the biggest game of his career. This is what his entire NFL legacy may hinge on. I think he answers the call and gets to the Super Bowl.

NFC

No. 3 Detroit Lions over No. 1 San Francisco 49ers

The Lions feel like the team of destiny this season. Or they’re just the feel-good story we need in the Super Bowl. Chances are it’ll be the 49ers winning this game. But last week in the Divisional Round, San Francisco didn’t show us much. The 49ers had to come from behind against an inferior team at home and only won because of a missed FG and a poor 4th and 1 decision. That’s it. Green Bay’s corners did a great job shutting down WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Or maybe that’s just a testament to how mediocre Brock Purdy is. Either way, Christian McCaffrey was the difference and the Lions have a terrific run defense.

My only worry is head coach Dan Campbell. He’s been known to galaxy brain a few decisions in his short tenure as Detroit’s head coach. Campbell needs to stay level-headed and not do anything too crazy. Lean on the run game and defense and put QB Jared Goff into good positions to get the ball to WR Amon-Ra St. Brown in space. We saw in the Divisional Round that the Packers had no issues moving the ball on the Niners defense. It’s just in the red zone they failed to convert a few times. Aside from the 49ers, the Lions had the best red-zone offense in the NFL.

I think the Lions pull this one out in a close one and advance to face the Ravens in the Super Bowl.

Chinmay Vaidya, Sports editor

AFC

No. 1 Baltimore Ravens over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs

As Challenge host T.J. Lavin has often said, “To be the best you’ve got to beat the best.” This is a necessary step for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to prove they were the most dominant team in the league this season. Baltimore has had success against Kansas City before, but this is the first time the two sides are meeting in the playoffs. The Chiefs began to figure some things out offensively against Buffalo, and Travis Kelce scoring twice is certainly a positive development for Kansas City. And no matter how he’s been playing, Patrick Mahomes is not a quarterback you want to face when the game is on the line.

The Ravens got the monkey off their back with a win over Houston last week but this is the true challenge they’ve been waiting for. Jackson should continue to move the ball well, even against a stellar Chiefs defense. He’s also likely to get star tight end Mark Andrews back for this game. Slowing down Kansas City’s offense is not easy but Baltimore’s defense should rise to the occasion. I like the Ravens to win this game and advance to the Super Bowl.

NFC

No. 1 San Francisco 49ers over No. 3 Detroit Lions

Yes, the 49ers did look shaky against Green Bay and had to be bailed out by the Packers making mistakes. However, San Francisco did hold up in the red zone quite well for the game. It’s unlikely quarterback Brock Purdy plays that poorly again, especially with the weather forecast looking much better this weekend. Deebo Samuel is an important piece for this team but the Niners have shown they can win without him.

The Lions have pulled off two wins in a row in close fashion, which will give them confidence heading into this championship game. Jared Goff has familiarity with this defense, but familiarity and success are too different things. The 49ers have been able to dominate opponents at home and even with Detroit having some winning momentum, I like San Francisco to advance to the Super Bowl without much trouble.

Chet Gresham, NFL Editor

AFC

No. 1 Baltimore Ravens over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs

I almost never go against Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs and it has served me well, but I’m taking the plunge this week on the road in Baltimore for the AFC Championship game. I won’t be surprised if Mahomes finds a way to pull out a win, but the Ravens are the better overall team right now and Lamar Jackson ain’t too shabby either.

The soon-to-be MVP is playing out of his mind with Todd Monken’s offense hitting on all cylinders over the last couple months, while the Chiefs are hitting their stride as well, but not quite to the Ravens’ heights. I expect the Ravens to take Travis Kelce out of this game or at least slow him down, leaving a shaky set of wide receiver not named Rashee Rice to get the job done.

NFC

No. 1 San Francisco 49ers over No. 3 Detroit Lions

The 49ers are 7-point favorites over the Lions at the moment, which feels too high, but the more I dig into this matchup, the more I’m Team Shanahan. The Lions pass defense is exploitable and Kyle Shanahan is one of the best at exploiting mismatches, while the 49ers defense is better across the board. Add in Jared Goff’s awful home/away splits and the lack of rain to get Brock Purdy’s hands too damp, and I like the 49ers to win fairly easily.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

AFC

No. 1 Baltimore Ravens over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs

I picked against the Chiefs last week, and the win over the Bills didn’t inspire me to take them this week. This should be a good game, but it is a very important matchup for Lamar Jackson and Baltimore. The Ravens are looking to prevent Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs from getting back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons. Kansas City has struggled against well-rounded teams, and Baltimore has the defense to keep up with their offense. The Ravens displayed their ability to make halftime adjustments and beat the Houston Texans 34-10, shutting them out in the second half. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will likely pick up the biggest win of his career before playing in his first Super Bowl in two weeks.

NFC

No. 1 San Francisco 49ers over No. 3 Detroit Lions

The Lions have already had a season to remember. They won the NFC North for the first time in 30 years and picked up a divisional round win for the first time since 1991. Detroit has garnered a lot of momentum from back-to-back playoff wins at home. It remains to be seen if they will be able to sustain it on the road, but my guess is no. Sure, the 49ers did get a scare at home by the Green Bay Packers, but held on due to a clutch interception in the fourth quarter. Detroit has been exciting, but San Francisco is the more talented team at home and should pick up a win.

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

AFC

No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 1 Baltimore Ravens

I’ve picked against Kansas City twice in these playoffs and gotten have burned both times. I’m not making that mistake again, even if Lamar Jackson is playing out of his mind right now. Whatever was ailing the Chiefs late in the year has been fixed as even their much-maligned receivers are making clutch catches for Patrick Mahomes now. On top of that, Chris Jones has been a game changer for a defense that has been one of the best units in the entire league.

Kansas City wins and goes to its fourth Super Bowl in five years. In the words of D’Angelo Barksdale, the king stay the king. (Haha, get it? It’s a quote from The Wire. Because the game is in Baltimore you see. I’m the only sports writer in history to reference The Wire.)

NFC

No. 3 Detroit Lions over No. 1 San Francisco 49ers

As talented as San Francisco is, there is something about this team that I find incredibly untrustworthy. Maybe it’s Kyle Shanahan crumbling in big games. Maybe it’s not entirely being sold on Brock Purdy leading a team to a Super Bowl. Maybe it’s the fact that the Niners are built to be frontrunners, which is why it took until last week to break a horrendous fourth-quarter streak.

I don’t know. But I do know is that Detroit feels like a team of destiny, as cliche as that may sound. The Lions fully reflect what Dan Campbell said in his introductory press conference. No matter the situation, they’re going to scrap, they’re going to fight, and heck, maybe they will bite someone’s kneecap! The vibes are tremendous with Detroit right now and I have them winning, setting up a Super Bowl rematch between the two teams who kicked off the regular season way back in September.