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Chiefs Do It Again & 49ers Do It Tough

The four best teams in the NFL went at it in the conference championship and left us with the game few people wanted, but most expected before the season started.

Chiefs Do It (Again)

Patrick Mahomes going 10/10 in the first quarter while Travis Kelce collects all four of his targets with a touchdown is just about as Kansas City Chiefs as you could get to start this one.

Regardless of the regular season, you could be confident in the duo doing enough to keep this game close as underdogs at the very least. Mahomes always looked in control, while Kelce broke Jerry Rice’s record for the most catches in the postseason with 156 in 21 games.

When Lamar Jackson completed a pass to himself, there was a feeling that this would end up as a thriller.

It shaped as a legacy game early on for Mahomes. Unfortunately for Jackson, it’s a bit of a legacy game for him right now, too.

Once again, Mahomes dominated in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. He’s taken a team that has struggled with the ball all season, one that most had written off as contenders weeks ago, and booked a place in Super Bowl LVIII.

The Chiefs have evolved from an offensive powerhouse into a defensive force. Surround Mahomes with a strong defence, and this is what happens: A 17-10 win over the heavily favoured Ravens.

And that is what makes it somewhat of a legacy game for Jackson. Not a good kind of legacy. He’s now 2-4 in the playoffs, and this team is too good to have gone out like this.

“We mad. We were one win away from the Super Bowl, what I’ve been talking about all season, my team has been talking about all season. We fell short. The offense, we didn’t put nothing on the board. We scored once. That’s not like us. I’m not frustrated, I’m angry because I know how hard we worked to get here.” – Lamar Jackson

Baltimore has been superb defensively all year. Even in defeat, they performed well in this one to keep Mahomes and their Chiefs to only 17 points. The shortcomings came on the offensive end, and those shortcomings, rightly or wrongly, begin and end with Jackson.

The Ravens never got going. They made things difficult by going down early, and it’s not a position Jackson and the Ravens have had a lot of success.

Hosting their first-ever AFC Championship game, the Ravens gave away far too many penalties and turned the ball over too often. A pair of rookie moments from Zay Flowers who was flagged for taunting before a fumble didn’t help. A bad, bad Jackson interception summed up their desperation and frustration.

With it all said and done, we shouldn’t be surprised. Chiefs +3.5 punters aren’t. Mahomes is a wizard, Andy Reid is an elite play-caller, and Kansas City are into yet another Super Bowl.

27 Unanswered Points

Plenty made sure to mention the potential of the Lions rushing game against the 49ers defence that hasn’t always been able to stop the opposition this season. Jared Goff has been fantastic and has dominated by putting the ball in the air, but the Lions relied on and benefited most from the running game as they built a 24-7 halftime lead.

As Detroit dared to dream over the break, San Francisco schemed their comeback. Looking like a different team after halftime, Brock Purdy and the 49ers found 27 unanswered points.

The Lions had an opportunity to move 27-10 in front halfway through the 3rd quarter but opted to chance their arm on 4th down rather than take the field goal. Goff’s pass missed the mark and the momentum of the game turned. Brandon Aiyuk completed one of the catches of the season before collecting another in the end zone. It ended up as the first of four possessions in which the 49ers turned a 14-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

The Lions left it all out there. Giving themselves a chance with a superb first half, they couldn’t keep it up in the second. Two failed fourth down conversions summed up both their aggression with the ball, and San Francisco’s significant improvements defensively after oranges.

Fingers are being pointed at Dan Campbell for his aggressive play-calling. They’re pointing at the outcome of those individual plays while their mere presence in the NFL Championship game is an outcome of his decisions all season.

A late-game touchdown did it for underdogs punters who went 2-0 in the conference championships. With the Lions unable to recover the onside kick with just under a minute to play with two timeouts (now that is a Campbell call to be argued about), the 49ers secured the 34-31 win to book their place in Super Bowl LVIII.

Again, it’s another game the 49ers weren’t perfect. They made things difficult last week against the Green Bay Packers. In giving the Lions a big lead, the Niners put themselves on the back foot again in this one. It will be one of the major talking points in the build-up to the big dance. This Chiefs defence is the best of the Mahomes era. Mahomes is still, obviously, Mahomes. San Francisco can’t afford to take a quarter or a half off against the Chiefs. Still, they’re early favourites to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

An Early Look At Super Bowl LVIII

The San Francisco 49ers have been installed as $1.80 and -1.5 favourites to beat the Kansas City Chiefs ($2) in Super Bowl LVIII.

The points total for the game opened at 47.5 points. As it stands, it’s the lowest total since Super Bowl 50 which closed at a lowly 43.5 points.

It’s not the last time it will be mentioned in the build-up, but Mahomes is 10-1-1 ATS as an underdog in his career. He’s 9-3 straight up in those games.

Like last week, the trends point towards Mahomes and the Chiefs. However, the 49ers offence is the best this new-look Chiefs defence has faced. It’s the closest game at the line since Super Bowl XLIX and is already shaping up as one of the greats.

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