This Sunday, four teams will participate in the playoff matchups in the AFC and NFC Championship Games, with two teams left standing to advance to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Las Vegas, Nevada, at Allegiant Stadium on February 11.
Coming into the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area, the San Francisco 49ers are the favorites over the visiting Detroit Lions with a -7.5 point spread, according to FOX Sports.
As for the AFC Championship Game at M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens are the clear favorite over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, with a point spread of -3.5.
Ahead of these two heavyweight showdowns on different sides of the country, Colin Cowherd of FOX Sports gave his prediction on how things will pan out, as he favors the Ravens to cover (-3.5) and the 49ers to win but the Lions to cover (+7.5), via “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.”
“The value is on Baltimore’s side, I feel strongly about it, 28-20,” Cowherd said.
“The Ravens win and are clearly the better team. Again, if Deebo [Samuel] plays at home, San Francisco has proven to be able to put up big numbers, but I think the side is Detroit, 34-27.
“I’m going to take Detroit to cover. I think Detroit tends to be pretty good, scripted early staying in games. Brock Purdy trailing or in close games is not the same quarterback.”
Cowherd seems to be pretty on the money with these predictions, as it seems doubtful there will be a blowout in either one of these conference championships on Sunday.
The Lions have a chance of getting blown out on the road, but the team has been resilient up to this point, while the 49ers have shown flaws.
As for the Chiefs and Ravens, it’s a game that should come down to the wire with a very talented Baltimore team looking to impose its will against an experienced team looking to add to their dynasty.
In Another News, Deebo Samuel has been cleared to play Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.
Samuel took part in his second day of practice on Friday and was not even listed on San Francisco’s injury report for the title game against the Detroit Lions.
“It’s huge,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
“It was a little scary at the beginning of the week, but he was full-go today and having no restrictions on him is good news for us.”
Linebacker Oren Burks (shoulder) is the only player the 49ers’ 53-man roster listed as questionable for the game. Burk had a collision during practice on Thursday, Shanahan said.
Samuel played just nine snaps in the 49ers’ victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional playoff. He sustained a shoulder injury in the first quarter of the 49ers’ 24-21 victory.
“It was kind of a relief to know it wasn’t a fracture, it was just a deep bruise or whatever,” Samuel said. “I put in countless hours and day-in and day-out to get to where we’re at right now.”
After sitting out practice on Wednesday, Samuel was a limited participant in practice Thursday and took part in a full practice on Friday.
He was seen running and catching passes, including throws in which he had to reach over his head to bring down.
Samuel’s status was a major storyline this week because of his importance to the 49ers’ offense. He missed most of the 49ers’ Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns with a hairline shoulder fracture that kept him out of action the next two games. The 49ers lost each of the games in which Samuel was sidelined.
San Francisco’s offense struggled Saturday night against the Packers without Samuel. But quarterback Brock Purdy rallied the 49ers for the come-from-behind victory with a late touchdown drive.
In 15 games this season, Samuel caught 60 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 225 yards and five touchdowns on 37 rushing attempts in the regular season.
The Lions will not have the services of starting left guard Jonah Jackson, who suffered a knee injury in the team’s 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
Kayode Awosika will start in Jackson’s place. Awosika started three games this season and five in his first two NFL seasons.