NFC Championship Game: Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers – live | NFL
Lions 7-0 49ers, 11:12, 1st quarter
Purdy keeps putting together a drive here, handing it to McCaffrey who gets two yards somehow despite a pretty relentless Lions defense. 2nd & 8.
Lions 7-0 49ers, 12:00, 1st quarter
Purdy’s first pass is incomplete, nearly intercepted. On 2and 10, he finds Deebo Samuel for the first time this game and he makes a catch at the Detroit 48 for another first down.
Lions 7-0 49ers, 12:06, 1st quarter
Brock Purdy’s first pass is incomplete to Kyle Juszczyk. His second, however, is to Brandon Aiyuk for a 11 yard gain that takes them to their own 37 yard mark and a fresh set of downs.
Lions 7-0 49ers, 13:13, 1st quarter
Jack Fox’s kickoff goes into the end zone for a touchback. We’ll now see if the San Francisco 49ers can respond. McCaffrey gets the ball first, which makes sense, he picks up a single yard.
Email from Mark Moran:
Can’t wait for this one. As I see it, we’re about to be treated to a showdown between the league’s two most exciting teams. We have two quarterbacks looking to prove the doubters wrong in the big time, the power of Christian McCaffrey versus the pace of Jahmyr Gibbs, and a star-studded receiving corps battle featuring the Sun God and Sammy Ballgame against Aiyuk, Deebo, and Kittle.
As a Panthers fan, I’d love to see CMC get a ring this year, but the passion that Detroit fans have for their team is fantastic. I’d be happy with either outcome; I think either taking on the Swifties would make a fantastic Superb Owl. I see the Niners edging this one by a score. 28-21 San Francisco.
Here’s to a classic!
Well, we immediately have a Lions score, so we might indeed be getting the kind of game you predicted here!
Touchdown! Lions 7-0 49ers, 13:18, 1st quarter
Jared Goff finds tight end Sam LaPorta for 14 yards and a first down. On the next play, Jameson Williams goes 42 yards for an immediate touchdown. Michael Badgley’s extra point is good and Detroit is immediately on the board! Wow!
Lions 0-0 49ers, 14:31, 1st quarter
David Montgomery picks up 4 yards on his first carry and then 15 on his next, taking the Lions to their own 44.
Lions 0-0 49ers, 15:00, 1st quarter
49ers win the coin toss and rightfully defer. The kick goes into the endzone for a touchback, so the Lions will be starting at their own 25.
Luis Fonsi gives a mostly understated take on “The Star Spangled Banner,” not going too booming with the high notes. Very smooth, not a lot of “American Idol” nonsense. 8/10.
It’s 6:30 pm and, per usual with prime time games, we’re still waiting for the actual game to start. The national anthem should be coming soon, however.
Meanwhile, 49ers fans are optimistic, as they should be. Last year’s 49ers team had an opportunity to make the Super Bowl but Brock Purdy suffered an injury early against the Philadelphia Eagles. Down to their fourth-string QB, they had no chance. This year is their do-over year and they should be as motivated as the Lions or more.
This is, as a FOX graphic informs us, the first Conference Championship appearance for Detroit since 1991. It’s remarkable since the word on this team in the preseason was that they would make the playoffs but they were a year or two away from being genuine contenders.
A shock win today would completely upend all expectations. Yes, they would have a difficult time against the Chiefs but even just making the Super Bowl is the sign of a genuinely great team. Merely good teams don’t win three straight elimination games in the postseason.
Confession: I write about sports betting but have never actually participated in the phenomenon. One has to pick and choose one’s vices on a freelance salary.
The closest thing I have to betting is the fact that I’ve been making predictions here for the last dozen years. Because of this, I sometimes make predictions that I don’t necessarily want to have happen. Yes, I believe in the Reverse Jinx because the worst that can happen is to be proved right.
So, I’m predicting a blowout 49ers win: 49ers 34-17 Lions, partly because I feel it’s the most likely outcome today and also because it’s the last thing I want to happen. Mostly, I want to liveblog a close, exciting game but also Lions-Chiefs would just be a more interesting Super Bowl matchup than 49ers-Chiefs.
Right or wrong, I can’t lose. That’s how one games the system.
Have a different prediction? Or simply want to back me up? As mentioned back in the preamble, you can send them via email to email@example.com or tweet them to @HunterFelt. We’ll include them here for posterity.
The Kansas City Chiefs are returning to the Super Bowl
It’s official, the Chiefs have beaten the Ravens 17-10! Congratulations to Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the entire team. My condolences to everyone trying to make the Taylor Swift Curse happen.
NFL haunts my dreams
Although it doesn’t feel that way when doing live updates, writing happens at all times of the day not just when you’re typing on a keyboard. Sometimes, I even end up writing in my dreams, like if Coleridge wrote about Fenway Park rather than Xanadu.
Once in a while, my subconscious even provides me with something decent to write. So, here courtesy of my dream this morning is a warning for gamblers. Many Lions fans have certainly bet on their team, despite them being 6.5 underdogs. Here’s the thing, you never want to bet on your own team during a potential elimination game.
Why? It’s just terrible self-care: you’re already going to be devastated if your team loses. Why compound that with a potential financial hit?
If you simply must bet when your team is playing, I always recommend putting a small amount of money (emphasis on small!) on the opposing team. If you’re emotionally devastated, you’ll still have something to smile about. If your team wins, well, you can tell yourself that it was your Reverse Jinx that sealed the victory.
San Francisco icon
As a Deadhead, I’m obliged to pass along this fact.
Detroit is ready for some football
In the middle of a hockey game, an NFL chant broke out. If Lions QB Jared Goff can pull off the upset today, he will be worshipped as a god in Michigan for the rest of his life. Deservedly so!
AFC Championship Game
If you’re here, welcome! However, you might want to be reading David Lengel who is currently chronicling the end of the AFC Championship Game where it looks like the Kansas City Chiefs are about to stamp yet another Super Bowl appearance at the expense of a thoroughly discombobulated Baltimore Ravens team.
It’s the NFC Championship Game and we have a battle between an overdog and an underdog. Yes, the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions had the same 12-5 regular season record but only one of these two teams was ever expected to get this far.
The 49ers earned the top seed in the NFC via tiebreaker and were by the eye test pretty clearly the most dominated team in their conference. Thanks to that, they received a bye week, giving them an all-important week of rest, and will play at home at Levi’s Stadium after just holding off the Green Bay Packers 24-21 in the Divisional Round.
Meanwhile, before beating the Los Angeles Rams by a single point two weeks ago, the Lions hadn’t won a playoff game in 32 years. They then decided to make it a win streak by taking care of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 in their Divisional Round matchup. Now they have to face their toughest opponent on the road after the benefit of an unprecedented two straight postseason home games. It’s going to be a tall task.
The key to this matchup? It all might be on quarterback Brock Purdy, San Francisco’s biggest question mark. While he is in charge of a high-powered offense highlighted by do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey and do-it-all wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who will be playing, he’s still capable of making throws that show why he was the last overall pick in his draft class.
Purdy’s proven himself to be a starting quarterback in this league, no doubt, but this will be his Ultimate Test. If he’s good, the 49ers should be able to end the Lions’ fairytale run but if he’s not, and he had some questionable throws against the Packers, well then Detroit might … and I can’t believe I’m writing this … Detroit might make it to the Super Bowl.
In essence: the Lions v the 49ers could go many different ways. The 49ers could get ahead early and make this a laugher before halftime. The Lions could keep this close and exciting throughout but lose in the end. The 49ers could choke and Detroit could take advantage. The only thing that seems unlikely would be a Lions blowout, barring a key 49ers injury (and nobody wants to see that). We’ll see: strange things happen every day.
Per usual, we’d love to hear your thoughts here at the Guardian. As usual, if you have opinions, questions or criticism feel free to send them here and we’ll post them throughout today’s game. You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @HunterFelt.
It’s the Detroit Lions v the San Fransisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium for the NFC Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm EST, but we’ll be back before then with various updates. We promise.
Hunter will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Graham Searles’s preview of today’s game:
Story of the season: Dan Campbell took over the Lions with a fiery speech centred around biting kneecaps. It was a mantra that came across as faintly ridiculous at the time, but it has led to a total shift in culture, a first NFC North title, and Detroit’s first back-to-back home playoff wins. Now, they are one game from their first Super Bowl. The Lions are this season’s vibes champions, a tantalising juxtaposition with the cool, calm and ultra-calculating San Francisco 49ers. A historically destructive offense powered the Niners straight back to this stage, their fourth visit in five seasons, as the No 1 seed. Kyle Shanahan will feel his team are long-since due a place in the Super Bowl but the underdog will still be hungry for a kneecap or two.
What the Lions need to do to win: Ben Johnson’s offense needs to race out the blocks. Detroit’s defense – which has given up more than 400 yards in both postseason wins this year – is not good enough to stare down San Francisco. The Lions shouldn’t be too proud to crib from Green Bay. The Packers demolished Dallas by scoring on the opening drive after electing to receive and almost knocked off the 49ers in the same fashion. What is most helpful is that the Lions have already done it – in Week 4 to the Packers at Lambeau Field – with a win based on a 17-3 lead at the top of the second quarter. Detroit should take the initiative then exploit the 49ers’ tendency to get tight when under scoreboard pressure. Shanahan finally winning a game last week when trailing by five or more points (to produce a 1-30 overall record when needing a comeback) may be the exception that proves Detroit’s path to success.
What the 49ers need to do to win: Detroit’s premier pass rusher needs to be stopped. Green Bay pressured Brock Purdy five times through right tackle Colton McKivitz and another five past right guard Aaron Banks. The 49ers have to help out their men given the considerable assignment of stopping game-wrecking defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Soft fouls need to be eradicated too: San Francisco have given up the second-most penalty yards this season.
Key player for the Lions: Frank Ragnow, center. Detroit’s keystone. Ragnow embodies Campbell’s last man standing mentality. A sprained knee against the Bucs, he kept blocking. A sprained ankle on top of that, no problem. Jared Goff and Jahmyr Gibbs are shining because of this ironman.
Key player for the 49ers: Deebo Samuel, wide receiver. San Francisco are said to be “cautiously optimistic” about Samuel’s availability to face Detroit. If he suits up they should be cautiously confident of making the Super Bowl. The 49ers are 12-2 this season – and score an average of 31.4 points – when Samuel plays a full game, compared to a 1-3 record with an 18.8 average without him. Shanahan needs his Swiss army knife back.
Prediction: 49ers over Lions. Detroit’s deficiencies on defense are too much to overcome, specifically against the pass. Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Christian McCaffery and Samuel, if he takes the field, are too strong. The forecasted dry weather should assist Purdy’s accuracy too.