NFL conference championship picks: Which teams will go to the Super Bowl?

NFL logo for Sam Farmer picks
NFL logo Sam Farmer picks (Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)

The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to FanDuel Sportsbook (O/U = over/under). Last week’s record 3-1 (.750). Overall for playoffs, 6-4 (.600). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last week would have been 0-4. Overall, 4-6 (.400). TV channels are for Los Angeles area. All times Pacific.

No. 3 Kansas City at No. 1 Baltimore

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) greet each other with a handshake.

When: Sunday, noon, CBS (Channel 2). Line: Ravens by 3½.

What do the Chiefs need to do: Run the ball and stick with it. Stay patient with the game plan and avoid riskier plays that can lead to turnovers. Baltimore's defense feasts on that. Kansas City has done a great job lately of playing zone defense and keeping eyes on the quarterback, forcing teams to throw underneath. Try to stop the run. Chris Jones needs to have a big day bringing pressure.

What the Ravens need to do: The best way to counter Patrick Mahomes is to bring pressure, which Baltimore has done effectively all season. Let Lamar Jackson be himself. Let him play loose. If he needs to run a lot, he'll have an extra week before the Super Bowl to recover. Try to get a big play over the top of the Kansas City defense, which won't be easy, or a long run after catch. Sustain drives.


The pick: Baltimore is a really tough place on visitors, and the Chiefs have had to play very difficult back-to-back road games. The Ravens have beaten an NFL-record 11 teams with winning records. They are beyond battle-tested. RAVENS 28, CHIEFS 23

No. 3 Detroit at No. 1 San Francisco

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan calls a play from the sideline.

When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Fox (Channel 11). Line: 49ers by 7.

What the Lions need to do: In recent weeks, teams have had success running outside the tackles against San Francisco. Throw the ball outside the numbers and away from cornerback Charvarius Ward. Run the ball to give Jared Goff a little more time and keep the play-action game going. If Goff is clean and untouched, his numbers tend to be outstanding. Crank up that pass rush and hope it makes up for shortcomings in the secondary.

What the 49ers need to do: Defense has to hit home with that high-dollar front four. Goff is not the same quarterback when he's under heavy pressure. Offensively, if Deebo Samuel is limited, put the game on Christian McCaffrey's shoulders. The weather figures to be better than that rainy game against Green Bay, and Brock Purdy should be sharper. Take advantage of that suspect Detroit pass defense.

The pick: The 49ers probably will stop the run and produce some turnovers. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan is going to be the difference with his ability to draw up effective schemes. If San Francisco can even use Samuel as a decoy, that creates issues. 49ERS 30, LIONS 24

Read more: No one believed deluded Dan Campbell, who has crazed Detroit on Super Bowl doorstep

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.