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NFL Playoffs: Projecting the Final 4 Teams’ Chances to Win the Super Bowl, With Analysis of the Conference Title Game

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

We’re down to the final four. The top-seeded Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will look to fend off challenges from the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and newcomer Detroit Lions to reach Super Bowl LVIII.

Jeff Howe breaks down conference championship games ahead of The AthleticThe Projection Model, created by Austin Mock, reveals each team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl.

AFC

No. 1 Baltimore Ravens vs. No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs, 3 p.m. ET, Sunday

Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the best player on the field in the Ravens’ 34-10 win over the Houston Texans, and they are virtually unstoppable when that happens. The Ravens are 10-0 this season, including Saturday when Jackson’s passer rating was above 90, and that doesn’t even take into account his rushing prowess.

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But that’s not all Jackson. Head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Todd Monken and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald were brilliant in their first playoff game. Monken’s adjustments were outstanding against the Texans’ aggressive blitzes, while Macdonald accomplished the rare feat of stopping quarterback CJ Stroud. It would be a surprise at this point if Macdonald doesn’t get a head coaching job this cycle, and it’s not inconceivable to think the Ravens could lose both coordinators.

Even though this appears to be the Ravens’ year, they now have to kill off the defending Super Bowl champions as the Chiefs continue to try to solidify their claim as a modern dynasty. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is coming off his first career playoff victory on the road, and he’ll have to do it again in his sixth straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game.

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Not only that, but the Chiefs just played their best game of the season by a considerable margin. The defense had three straight scoreless possessions to close out the game, but this unit has been solid all season. Even more impressive, Mahomes and his supporting cast delivered in several key moments, making only one crucial mistake. If they play this well in Baltimore, the title game should be a thriller.

NFC

No. 1 San Francisco 49ers vs. No. 3 Detroit Lions, 6:30 p.m. ET, Sunday

This match can be decided on the field, and the Lions will have to tighten up in this area. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who ranked last in rushing and yards per carry in the regular season, ran 15 times for 89 yards Sunday in Detroit. It was a surprising performance against a Lions defense that ranked second in rushing yards and third in yards per carry.

The 49ers’ ground game needs no introduction with superstar guard Christian McCaffrey, who has been an MVP favorite for much of the season. If the Niners move the ball with McCaffrey, they could double the Bucs’ rushing numbers.

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On the other side, the Packers ran 28 times for 136 yards (4.9 yards per carry) against a 49ers defense that ranked 14th in allowing 4.1 yards per carry in the regular season. The Lions’ two-pronged offense of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs ranked fifth in yards and yards per carry.

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The focus will naturally be on quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Jared Goff, but the identity of each offense is built on the field. Purdy struggled against the Packers before his impressive winning run, while Goff was effective in both playoff victories. Both quarters have been difficult to defend when the offense is on schedule, which is why the NFC Championship Game will likely be decided by the best team on the field.

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AFC

Baltimore Ravens

team logo 33
27.5%
Super Bowl victory
Conference seed
1
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13-4
AFC
North
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Kansas City Chiefs

team logo 46
15.7%
Super Bowl victory
Conference seed
3
Save
11-6
AFC
West
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NFC

San Francisco 49ers

team logo 58
47.0%
Super Bowl victory
Conference seed
1
Save
12-5
NFC
West
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Detroit Lions

team logo 41
9.8%
Super Bowl victory
Conference seed
3
Save
12-5
NFC
North
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(Photo by Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)