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Winners Club: Conference Championship Picks and DFS Plays

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 1/28/2022 Kyle Wood

Good morning, and happy Friday! We're two days away from the Super Bowl LVI teams being set after an epic divisional round.

Let’s talk championship weekend matchups, picks, NFL news and more.

NFL Playoffs

Bengals vs. Chiefs

Sunday 3 p.m. ET | CBS

John Amis/AP © Provided by Sports Illustrated John Amis/AP

You might recall these teams met in Week 17. The Bengals were victorious at home, 34-31, behind Joe Burrow’s 446 passing yards, 266 of which went to Ja’Marr Chase, and four touchdowns. You also might recall Patrick Mahomes forced overtime with 13 seconds remaining a week ago against the Bills as well as all of his other heroics since he entered the league.

Both teams are amazing in their own right, but Kansas City, the team that’s been to the Super Bowl two years in a row and won it all two seasons ago, is a 7.5-point favorite on SI Sportsbook against Cincinnati. Frankie Taddeo breaks down the AFC championship game and makes his pick.

49ers vs. Rams

Sunday 6:30 p.m. | FOX

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP © Provided by Sports Illustrated Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

These divisional rivals are more than familiar with each other at this point. And Rams coach Sean McVay is probably tired of running into Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers at this point. San Francisco has won the last six meetings between the two clubs, including a Week 18 game that could have sent the 49ers home. Instead, they rallied to beat Los Angeles and set up this rematch that’s essentially a referendum on Jimmy Garoppolo, the Matt Stafford trade and two coaches who have been to the sport’s biggest stage but have never won.

The Rams are 3.5-point favorites at home despite the recent history between these teams. If L.A. can win in SoFi Stadium on Sunday, it will host the Super Bowl on its home field in two weeks’ time. Read Taddeo’s breakdown of Rams-49ers Chapter III.

Fantasy Football

Championship Weekend DFS Plays

Travis Heying/AP © Provided by Sports Illustrated Travis Heying/AP

The number of possible players to plug into DFS lineups is dwindling as the postseason wears on. Jen Piacenti advises fantasy players “be sure you consider at least one dart-throw lineup to differentiate yourself from the pool.” Piacenti offers her take on the viable starters for this weekend’s games and highlights a few value plays as well.

Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Michael Fabiano is here to point out the bargains and fades for championship weekend in his weekly piece. Joe Burrow? You bet. Jimmy Garoppolo? Not so much. See who else Fabiano is high or low on.

Gauging Adams and Rodgers’ Dynasty Stock: Matt De Lima discusses the future of Green Bay’s star tandem at quarterback and wide receiver and how to proceed through a murky future.

What Big Ben’s Retirement Means for Fantasy: Craig Ellenport weighs in on the value of Steelers weapons Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth in a post-Roethlisberger Pittsburgh.

Kamara and Thomas’ Payton-Less Future: De Lima analyzes the value of Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas in New Orleans moving forward with cap questions and recent departures of long-time head coach and quarterback fresh in the minds of Saints fans.

NBA Action

Eastern Conference Futures Picks

Lynne Sladky/AP © Provided by Sports Illustrated Lynne Sladky/AP

Brooklyn remains the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. So should you bet them at +140 given Kevin Durant’s injury and Kyrie Irving’s inability to play in home games? Some of our writers think so, others disagree and offer their picks to come out of the East.

NBA All-Star Starters Announced: LeBron James is making his 18th consecutive All-Star appearance while Ja Morant and Andrew Wiggins will play in their first. Kevin Durant, who is expected to not play in the Feb. 20 game, was named the Eastern Conference captain.

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