Super Bowl 2022: Predictions and Latest Odds Ahead of Conference Championships

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2022

Super Bowl 2022: Predictions and Latest Odds Ahead of Conference Championships

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The NFL will run back two of the best games of its season Sunday, with a berth in Super Bowl LVI at stake when the San Francisco 49ers make the short trip to Los Angeles to battle the Rams for the NFC Championship and the Cincinnati Bengals look to make it 2-0 against the Kansas City Chiefs on the AFC side. 

    After a wild, chaotic, drama-filled divisional round, the league will look to build on its momentum and certainly hopes the four remaining teams can deliver the finest sports entertainment this side of a pro wrestling ring.

    Who wins Sunday's titanic clashes between four of the most resilient teams in football, who are the oddsmakers favoring and which team will pick up a ring as confetti falls from the rafters of SoFi Stadium in LA at the conclusion of the most prestigious game of the year?

         

          

    All odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.

AFC Championship Odds and Prediction

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    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    Odds: Kansas City (-7)

    "I'm tired of the underdog narrative. We're a really, really good team. We are here to make noise," Joe Burrow told the media following Cincinnati's three-point victory over the No. 1-seeded Tennesee Titans Saturday night in Nashville.

    The first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has never shied away from expressing his confidence in his team. He will need all of the confidence he can get as he and the Bengals enter Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City for a showdown with the two-time defending AFC champions, the Chiefs.

    Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense lit up the Bills defense in the divisional round to the tune of 522 yards for 42 yards. The former league MVP was flawless, tossing three touchdowns, running for another and leading the team in both passing and rushing categories.

    The Benglas may have pulled off an upset over the Chiefs back in week 17 but playoff football is different. This Kansas City squad is different. They have the experience, thrive under the brights lights and when the pressure is at its greatest.

    Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have been staples of the offense throughout the team's dynastic run and know what to do, how to do it and when to do it in order to cash their ticket to the Super Bowl. It will be incredibly difficult for the Bengals to go to Kansas City and win, especially taking into consideration what the Chiefs did to a much better Buffalo defense.

    What Cincy has in its favor, though, is youth.

    The team is so young, from second-year quarterback Joe Burrow to rookie wideout Ja'Marr Chase, that they do not know what they do not know. They play with a carefree demeanor, fueled by that aforementioned confidence of their QB.

    The AFC North champions will make a game of it, at least early, as they find holes in a susceptible defense that gave up 422 yards and 6.2 per play. It's unlikely Chase has the explosive day that he had in their first meeting, but Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are more than capable of stepping up and helping to change the tone of the game.

    The question will be if Trey Hendrickson and the Bengals defense can make a few key stops, preventing the Chiefs from returning to the Super Bowl for a third, consecutive year.

    They cannot.

    Mahomes and Co. return to the big stage following a game that stayed close early but turned into a 10-point win following a key interception or fumble recovery by the KC defense.

            

    Prediction: Chiefs by 10

NFC Championship Odds and Prediction

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Odds: Los Angeles (-3.5)

    In order for the Los Angeles Rams to advance to their second Super Bowl in four years, they will have to overcome the one team that has been their kryptonite over the last three seasons: the San Francisco 49ers.

    The division foes last overcame a 17-point deficit in Week 18 to beat the Rams in overtime and cash their ticket to the postseason. Since then, Kyle Shanahan's crew has been a buzzsaw, defeating the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers to earn their way to the NFC Championship game.

    Both of those teams were better than the Niners, but superb coaching and key contributions from star players like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and much-maligned quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, not to mention the most important blocked punt in recent memory, have them rolling toward a second Super Bowl appearance in three years.

    Given their dominance over LA and everything else that has gone right for them during this run, there is absolutely no reason to believe San Francisco will not advance to Super Bowl on February 13.

    Except, you know, the Rams are playing like the team everyone expected them to be this season.

    The defense has played exceptionally, shutting down the Cardinals high-powered offense in the Wildcard round before stifling Tom Brady and the Buccaneers for most of the divisional round game. They sacked Brady three times, forced an interception and came away with a fumble.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Matthew Stafford has saved his best for the playoffs.

    He has thrown four touchdowns and, more importantly, zero interceptions. He is completing 74.5 percent of his passes and is third in the league in QBR this postseason at 73.6. Most of all, he is finding the big play when the team needs it the most. 

    The 70-yard touchdown to Cooper Kupp is before halftime against Tampa Bay and the 44-yard bomb to Kupp in the final seconds of the game to set up Matt Gay's winning field goal were the stuff of a player who has heard the doubters and relished in the opportunity to silence them.

    Kupp was otherworldly in the divisional round, finishing the game nine receptions for 183 yards, a 20.3 per-play average and a touchdown. No receiver has done what Kupp has done this season and been so routinely disrespected by the opposing team.

    Despite winning the triple crown, he repeatedly finds himself in single coverage situations, which he takes advantage of en route to a big play here or a perfectly timed touchdown there.

    He will be a factor against San Francisco, which exhibited difficulty in stopping him during their most recent encounter.

    The game will be close, the Niners will rush Stafford and make things much more difficult for him than Tampa Bay did by getting to him just twice. The difference will be the big-play magic the veteran quarterback has found in these playoffs, a wideout still looking for the rest of the league to put some respect on his name, and a defense that has gelled just in time for the most important game of the season.

         

    Prediction: Rams win by 3

Super Bowl LVI Prediction

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    The Rams and Chiefs last played each other in one of the greatest Monday Night Football games of all time, won by Los Angeles in dramatic fashion.

    On that night, Jared Goff and the Rams out-dueled Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the league MVP's first year as the undisputed starter for the Chiefs. It was an explosive game that captivated audiences and left the viewer wondering what they would see next from the high-powered offenses.

    Ironically enough, it was the game-wrecking play of all-timer Aaron Donald that helped secure the 54-51 victory.

    The teams are both more mature than they were on that night three-plus years ago, but the dynamic remains the same: pressure Mahomes into making bad decisions and good things will happen for the opponent. We saw it earlier in the season during the Chiefs ugly 3-4 start.

    The recipe is the same for the Chiefs: pressure Stafford into making poor choices and the result will be big plays and points. 

    Both offenses would have success lighting up the other's offense but it would come down to those playmakers on the defensive side of the ball to make that key stop or two to secure the win.

    With stars like Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd and Donald, the Rams would hold the upper hand. A dangerous pass rush and a ball-hawking secondary would, eventually, catch Mahomes in one of those mistakes and potentially secure the win.

    There would be lots of points between the teams, but the defense would be the difference-maker. In this case, Stafford and the Rams realize their destiny, payoff the many offseason and in-season moves, and win the organization its first Super Bowl since 1999.

           

    Prediction: Rams by 3

          

         

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    21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/NH/IA/CO/IL only. Odds and lines subject to change. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.

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