The third-seeded Kansas City Chiefs continue their postseason journey this Sunday, facing the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The AFC Championship features matchups all across the board, with the on-field product weighing heavier than off-field injuries and weather conditions. Two league MVPs in quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, incredible kickers Harrison Butker and Justin Tucker, and elite defenses on both sides.
As the AFC Championship approaches, the excitement and anticipation among football fans are reaching their peak. While others may get caught up in post-Super Bowl discussions, our experts remain fully focused on the remaining three games of the NFL season. It is a surreal feeling to realize that the journey is coming to an end, but the intensity and passion of the conference championship game make it all worthwhile.
The Chiefs have reminded Chiefs Kingdom who they are across these past two postseason games, while the national media doubted the AFC West champions. The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions until the final second on February 11. Will they be defending their title at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, or will the Ravens end their Super Bowl appearance drought?
On defense, the Chiefs will focus on stopping the run, forcing the Ravens to beat them through the pass, similar to their game plan against the Dolphins. I think that bodes well with the edge Kansas City has over Baltimore in the secondary-to-wide receiver matchup. It's going to come down to Mahomes and Reid playing their A-plus football to beat the league's best defense. I think it will be a low-scoring affair, coming down to which quarterbacks make more plays in the fourth quarter. I'll take Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Chiefs 23, Ravens 17
The Ravens are the healthier and more rested team and they're playing at home. There's not a great reason to pick the Chiefs beyond the holy trinity of Mahomes/Kelce/Reid, but that's a powerful trio. Ultimately, I think the Ravens' defense is the true x-factor in this game. The Chiefs' offense has looked good against some dinged-up defenses but I'm not sure spamming Rice, Pacheco, and Kelce continually will work against a very talented and cerebral defense. I think the Chiefs keep it close but the Ravens just have too many paths to victory.,
Ravens 28, Chiefs 25
This is the ultimate showdown for the NFL season—not the Super Bowl for me. Here you have a Chiefs roster that has somehow won two playoff games in a row with a margin for error. It’s not as if the Chiefs played a perfect game against Buffalo, yet they still went on the road, overcame their own mistakes, and sent Josh Allen packing. That said, the Chiefs were at their worst on Christmas Day when the Raiders decided to be as physical as possible with them for 60 minutes. By the end, K.C. looked exhausted, overmatched, tired, and frustrated. Baltimore is the one opponent who can pull off that sort of performance in the postseason and I think it will be their undoing because that’s the only way to get the best of Patrick Mahomes.
Ravens 20, Chiefs 19
The Baltimore Ravens seem like they're on a heater right now and they're going to be hard to stop. The Chiefs' defense is going to have to be better than it was against Buffalo, especially against the run, if they want to win. Luckily, I think it's unlikely we get two bad games in a row from a defense that's been dominant all year, and I trust Patrick Mahomes versus the Ravens defense than I do Lamar Jackson versus the Chiefs defense.
Chiefs 28, Ravens 23
Both teams have statistical advantages in this game. However, the way Baltimore is responding to this game at M&T Bank Stadium cannot be ignored. This is their first conference championship at home since the team's inception, and the Ravens seem to be treating it like a Super Bowl. On the other hand, the Chiefs players are all business and have been here before plenty of times. Their recent victory on the road only reinforces my confidence in the Kansas City Chiefs advancing to Super Bowl LVIII. The Arrowhead Invitational may be postponed, but with no defeats for the Chiefs players drafted since 2022, their winning streak is unlikely to be broken this week.
Chiefs 27, Ravens 26
Last year's AFC Championship matchup with Cincinnati meant a lot because of the revenge factor from the season before coupled with the "Burrowhead" comments from Mike Hilton and trash talk from Cincinnati's mayor in the week leading up to it. Somehow, this year feels like it means more. I guess when a team reaches 6 consecutive AFC title games as the Chiefs have, the intensity ratchets up every time. You can look at any matchup you want in this game and convince yourself that either Baltimore or Kansas City could come out on top, but there is one x-factor that is becoming more and more clear. Patrick Mahomes is transforming himself from the best quarterback in the NFL to the most feared athlete on the planet, a la 1990s Michael Jordan. I refuse to believe Mahomes is going to drag the Chiefs this far and relent now.
Chiefs 28, Ravens 24
The Chiefs are flirting with history as they head into their sixth-consecutive AFC Championship Game at M&T Bank when they square off with the Baltimore Ravens. This is a matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Everything on paper suggests the Ravens win this game going away, but games are played on the field. Patrick Mahomes has only been bested by Joe Burrow and Tom Brady in title games. Lamar Jackson will have an opportunity, but the pressure is squarely on Baltimore's shoulders. As for the game itself, the Chiefs will ride their second-year running back on Sunday afternoon. Isiah Pacheco will have another big day and lead all rushers. Rashee Rice will expose the middle of the Ravens' defense. Baltimore will earn yards on the ground, but won't have as many explosive plays through the air. This will be a relatively low-scoring affair. Both kickers will get significant work. The Chiefs hang on in a close game.
Chiefs 24, Ravens 21
I was the only writer to pick against the Chiefs last week and look what happened. Will I bet against Patrick Mahomes again? Unfortunately, I will. The Chiefs have almost zero margin for error in this game and I'm not sure they can manage it. If Kansas City wins this game, I vow to never pick against Mahomes in the playoffs ever again. I hope that I look like a fool again.
Ravens 26, Chiefs 20 (OT)
My heart and head say two different things, but I choose to follow my heart in life. I think the Chiefs sneak into the Super Bowl on the back of a defense that will shut down Baltimore in the second half and win the game on a Grim Reaper-like, rip-your-heart-out drive for a game-winning field goal orchestrated by the most dynamic playoff combination in NFL history: Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
Chiefs 23, Ravens 21