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24 Hours 'Til Sunday

Snapshot previews of all the games

Deebo to play

It's Saturday, and the conference championship games are tomorrow. No disclaimer is needed regarding my advice here and the Weekly rankings; I did the articles on the site, so those are good to go. Except for the fact that Deebo Samuel (shoulder) is apparently playing.

Samuel left last week's game after a big hit with a shoulder injury and didn't return. Apparently it wasn't fractured or anything, since he was able to practice fully on Friday. It is hard to think he'll be doing all his usual things (will he really be running into the line?) but if he weren't cleared for contact he wouldn't be practicing fully.

So I re-ran the rankings from yesterday, and the gist is that Brandon Aiyuk moves down a little, now firmly behind Amon-Ra. Jauan Jennings, now looking like the clear No. 3, moves well down, behind Josh Reynolds and Odell Beckham. And Samuel himself moves up to 5th at WR, behind Zay Flowers. (The risk of re-injury is built into his ranking.)

Kansas City at Baltimore: I go back and forth on this one. As I've said many times, Baltimore was absolutely the best team all season long. But there are concerns with this matchup. The Kansas City pass rush, which could disrupt everything Baltimore hopes to do. And Patrick Mahomes, who can break down and find holes in this great defense if anyone can. If you're a Ravens fan feeling confident, all I can say is, I'd be worried about the opponent.

I think the Ravens will try to run the ball. I wish they had better options than Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and Dalvin Cook, but they don't. They'll work the run, Lamar will run some and pass it to Zay Flowers and his tight ends (including Mark Andrews), and hope that's enough. Lamar is the MVP and stepped up big last week, but a more difficult situation here.

With Kansas City's offense, it's a very tough matchup. Isiah Pacheco didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and got a limited practice on Friday. He's playing, but it would have been nice to see him practice fully yesterday. Didn't happen. Could be a little more Clyde Edwards-Helaire than usual. Regardless, don't count on big numbers or a rushing touchdown. The game will be on Patrick Mahomes' shoulders.

I'm good with the betting lines, which suggest a 24-21 Ravens win. It's definitely a game where the quarterback who makes the most plays will come away with the win.

Detroit at San Francisco: As with the AFC favorite, the quarterback is the big question here. Brock Purdy wasn't good last week and wasn't good in the big game against Baltimore. Detroit is pretty lousy defensively, especially against the pass, but if Purdy is feeling the pressure or struggling, he'll give them some opportunities to make plays. My lone concern with this game for San Francisco is that they won't be able to take advantage of the things this secondary gives them.

But the 49ers have Christian McCaffrey, and he's the game's best running back by a wide margin. If Kyle Shanahan doesn't have McCaffrey touching the ball on a vast majority of the plays, I'm not sure what he's even doing. There should be runs, passes, whatever they can do to let him carry the offense and get this team to a Super Bowl against a team that wasn't good defensively during the season and not last week either.

Detroit should feature Jahmyr Gibbs; he's clearly a difference-maker. There will be lots of passes for Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta. That's a lot of different guys that San Francisco needs to account for, as many as the Lions will need to worry about on the 49ers. The oddsmakers numbers suggest a higher-scoring game, and I agree. But in general, you've got San Francisco at home against a lesser defense. They should get a lead, maybe be able to force a couple of mistakes from Jared Goff. The Lions have been a great story this year and postseason, but my lean is that it ends here. I'll call it San Francisco 27, Detroit 23.

For those wondering how my playoff teams are doing (anyone?), my RTSports team is in the hunt to win its league. Most teams loaded up on Ravens, 49ers, Bills and Cowboys. I loaded up on Ravens and 49ers, but snuck in Pacheco and a couple of key Lions, and those guys could carry me to the title if the road teams win (nobody else has Pacheco, or any KC players actually). I'm also doing well in the "start each player only once" competition I'm in, although I'm taking the chance this week of using a couple of key 49ers -- McCaffrey, Aiyuk, Kittle -- on the idea that this will be their best playoff game, plus the fact that they might lose. I'm hoping they'll get me a big enough lead over teams that save them for the Super Bowl that I'll be able to hang on with lesser choices available to me. Risky, but so is not using them and having San Francisco get upset. I'll let you know how things go.

Good luck in your various competitions, I'll answer questions if there are any, and enjoy the games tomorrow.

--Andy Richardson


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