Twenty-eight NFL groups have seen their season finish sooner than they hoped. The ultimate 4, who will do battle Sunday within the convention championships, nonetheless have the California dream alive.
The AFC and NFC crowns might be handed out, with a spot in Tremendous Bowl LVI on the road, starting Sunday afternoon. As at all times, NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle are making their against-the-spread picks for the week’s motion, a bittersweet endeavor with simply three video games left in the complete 2021 season.
However first, right here’s how they dealt with the divisional spherical.
Now, listed here are their convention championship picks, with strains from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-7) Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, 3 p.m. ET
On the threat of placing an excessive amount of inventory into these groups’ Week 17 matchup, the Bengals did some spectacular issues. The primary was how they had been in a position to get Ja’Marr Chase the ball in area, permitting him to utterly go off for 266 receiving yards. Definitely, the KC recreation plan will deal with taking him away, however Joe Burrow has no scarcity of weapons, and we did simply see Taylor Gabriel go off towards the Chiefs’ secondary that is likely to be with out Tyrann Mathieu.
Defensively, the Bengals restricted Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Granted, Patrick Mahomes nonetheless unfold it round, however Cincinnati at the very least ought to keep within the recreation if that’s the case once more. Profitable this recreation most likely is an excessive amount of to ask of the younger Bengals, however there’s sufficient of their favor to maintain it inside the quantity.
Cincinnati’s move safety has been an issue, evident by the Bengals’ offensive line rating 31st in adjusted sack rate. That obtrusive weak spot was on full show within the AFC divisional spherical, when the Tennessee Titans sacked Burrow 9 (!) occasions regardless of Cincinnati’s highway win, and it may rear its ugly head once more Sunday towards a Kansas Metropolis protection that ranks fifth in pressure rate.
Burrow seemingly could make each throw possible, however he nonetheless has simply 28 NFL video games underneath his belt. Inexperience — on the QB place, alongside the O-line and on the sideline with head coach Zac Taylor — lastly will catch as much as the Bengals, because the Chiefs are equally as explosive and much more seasoned.
San Francisco 49ers at (-3.5) Los Angeles Rams, 6:30 p.m.
At this level, guess towards the 49ers at your individual threat, given their skill to not solely cowl however win outright as underdogs. They’ve definitely owned the Rams, too, profitable six in a row towards their division rivals. Nevertheless, the Rams’ offense might be a really powerful matchup if San Francisco can’t get stress. Matthew Stafford has too many weapons for a middling Niners secondary to cowl, an issue the Tampa Bay Buccaneers confronted final week versus the Rams.
LA has a behavior of blowing late leads, which it didn’t solely final week however in its late-season matchup with the 49ers. Given how effectively the Rams’ defensive entrance has seemed, although, it’s exhausting to have an excessive amount of confidence in Jimmy Garoppolo main a late-game comeback once more. That’s very true if offensive sort out Trent Williams continues to be hobbled for San Fran.
The 49ers have developed a robust recipe for beating the Rams: Strain Stafford with out blitzing a ton, and restrict the quantity of havoc Aaron Donald wreaks. Can’t take these as a right, although, and Los Angeles has the top-level expertise on each side of the ball to compete with anyone.
The Rams wrestle when their depth is examined, however they enter this matchup comparatively wholesome, whereas the 49ers have been banged up in current weeks. The distinction finally might be Los Angeles’ offensive ceiling, significantly within the passing recreation, the place the likes of Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., amongst others, might be a handful for San Francisco’s secondary. Simply assume: We’re one week faraway from an terrible efficiency by Garoppolo in Inexperienced Bay regardless of the 49ers’ upset win over the Packers. Can Jimmy G sustain if this recreation turns right into a monitor meet? Don’t assume so.
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