NFC Championship Game: Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers – live

Key events

Touchdown! Lions 7-0 49ers, 13:18, 1st quarter

Jared Goff finds Sam LaPorta in tight end 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 gains four yards on his first carry and then fifteen on his next, putting the Lions at their own 44.

Opening kick-off

Lions 0-0 49ers, 3:00 PM, 1st quarter

49ers win the coin toss and rightly postpone. The kick goes into the end zone for a touchback, so the Lions start at their own 25.

National anthem

Luis Fonsi gives a mostly subdued view of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, where the high notes do not sound too high. Very smooth, not a lot of ‘American Idol’ nonsense. 8/10.

It’s 6:30 PM and, as usual with primetime games, we’re still waiting for the actual game to start. However, the national anthem should be released soon.

@HunterFelt 6th generation SF Bay Area native and lifelong Niners fan here-
the game won’t be that close, we really want a rematch with KC! I say 49ers 45, Lions 10 #BangBangNinerGang

— Jenifer Divine (@divine_jenifer) January 28, 2024

Meanwhile, 49ers fans are optimistic, as they should be. Last year’s 49ers team had a chance to make it to the Super Bowl, but Brock Purdy suffered an injury early on against the Philadelphia Eagles. Until their fourth string QB, they had no chance. This year is their repeat year and they should be as motivated as the Lions or more.

Detroit Lions

This is, as a FOX graphic shows us, the first Conference Championship appearance for Detroit since 1991. It’s notable because the word about this team in the preseason was that they would make the playoffs, but they had a year or two away from being real contenders. .

A shock win today would completely shatter all expectations. Yes, they would struggle against the Chiefs, but even making it to the Super Bowl is a sign of a truly great team. Only good teams don’t win three consecutive elimination games in the postseason.


Confession: I write about sports betting, but have never actually participated in the phenomenon. With a freelance salary, you have to pick your vices.

The closest I get is the fact that I’ve been making predictions here for the past twelve years. Because of this, I sometimes make predictions that I don’t necessarily want to happen. Yes, I believe in the Reverse Jinx, because the worst that can happen is that you’re proven right.

So I’m predicting a big win for the 49ers: 49ers 34-17 Lions, partly because I think this is the most likely outcome today and also because it’s the last thing I want to happen. Usually I want to liveblog an exciting, 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 you game the system.

Do you have another prediction? Or do you just want to back me up? As mentioned in the introduction, you can email them to or tweet them to @HunterFelt. We’ll include them here for posterity.

The Kansas City Chiefs return to the Super Bowl

It’s official: the Chiefs defeated the Ravens 17-10! Congratulations to Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the entire team. My condolences to anyone trying to make the Taylor Swift curse a reality.

NFL haunts my dreams

While it doesn’t feel like it with live updates, writing happens at any time of the day, not just when you’re typing on a keyboard. Sometimes I even write in my dreams, as if Coleridge were writing about Fenway Park instead of Xanadu.

Every now and then my subconscious even gives me something decent to write. So, thanks to my dream this morning, here’s a warning to gamblers. Many Lions fans certainly bet on their team despite them being 6.5 underdogs. The point is, you never want to bet on your own team in a potential elimination match.

Why? It’s just terrible self-care: You’ll be devastated if your team loses. Why compound that with a potential financial hit?

If you just have to bet while your team is playing, I always recommend putting a small amount of money (emphasis on small!) on the other team. When you’re emotionally devastated, you still have something to laugh about. If your team wins, you can tell yourself that it was your Reverse Jinx that sealed the victory.

San Francisco icon

As a Deadhead, I am obliged to pass on 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 overcome today’s upset, he will be worshiped like a god in Michigan for the rest of his life. Earned!

AFC Championship Game

If you’re here, welcome! However, you might want to read David Lengel, who is currently covering the end of the AFC Championship Game, where it looks like the Kansas City Chiefs are on the verge of sealing yet another Super Bowl appearance at the expense of a thorough confused 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 those two teams was expected to ever get that far.

The 49ers earned the top seed in the NFC via a tiebreaker and were quite clearly the most dominated team in their conference according to the eye test. Thanks to that, they got a bye week, which gave them an all-important week of rest, and they will play at home in 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 one point two weeks ago, the Lions had not won a playoff game in 32 years. They then decided to make it a winning streak by taking care of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 in their Divisional Round match. Now they face their toughest opponent on the road after having the advantage of two unprecedented home games in a row. It will be quite a task.

The key to this matchup? It could all be on quarterback Brock Purdy, San Francisco’s biggest question mark. While presiding over a high-powered offense, highlighted by all-rounder Christian McCaffrey and all-rounder Deebo Samuel, who’s going to playis he still capable of making throws that show why he was the last overall pick in his draft class.

Purdy has undoubtedly proven himself to be a starting quarterback in this league, but this will be his ultimate test. If he’s good, the 49ers should be able to end the Lions’ fairytale streak, but if he’s not, and he had a few questionable throws against the Packers, then Detroit might… and I can Can’t believe I’m writing this… Detroit might make it to the Super Bowl.

In essence: the Lions versus the 49ers could go a lot of different ways. The 49ers were able to take an early lead and make it a joke before halftime. The Lions were able to keep it exciting and tense throughout, but ultimately lost. The 49ers could choke and Detroit could take advantage. The only thing that seems unlikely is a Lions blowout, barring a major injury to the 49ers (and no one wants to see that). We will see: Strange things happen every day.

As usual, we’d love to hear your views here at The Guardian. If you have any opinions, questions or criticisms, please send them here as usual. We’ll be posting them throughout today’s game. You can email them to or tweet them @HunterFelt.

It’s the Detroit Lions vs. the San Fransisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium for the NFC Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM EST, but we’ll be back early with several updates. We promise.

Hunter will be here soon. In the meantime, here’s Graham Searles’ preview of today’s match:

Story of the season: Dan Campbell took over the Lions with a fiery speech centered around biting kneecaps. It was a mantra that seemed somewhat ridiculous at the time, but it led to a total culture change, a first NFC North title and Detroit’s first back-to-back home playoff wins. Now they are one game away from their first Super Bowl. The Lions are this season’s vibe champions, a tantalizing combination with the cool, calm and ultra-calculating San Francisco 49ers. A historically destructive offense sent the Niners right back to this stage, their fourth visit in five seasons, as the No. 1 seed. Kyle Shanahan will feel like his team has long deserved a spot 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 get out of the blocks. Detroit’s defense — which has given up more than 400 yards in both postseason victories this year — isn’t good enough to stare San Francisco down. The Lions shouldn’t be too proud to be from Green Bay. The Packers destroyed Dallas by scoring on the opening drive after opting to nearly beat the 49ers in similar fashion. What helps most is that the Lions have already done it – in Week 4 against the Packers at Lambeau Field – with a win built on a 17-3 lead in the first half of the second quarter. Detroit should take the initiative and then exploit the 49ers’ tendency to get tight when under scoreboard pressure. Shanahan finally winning a game last week when he was down five or more points (to post a 1-30 overall record when he needed a comeback) might be the exception that proves Detroit’s path to success .

What the 49ers need to do to win: Detroit’s leading pass rusher needs to be stopped. Green Bay pressured Brock Purdy five times through right tackle Colton McKivitz and another five times past right guard Aaron Banks. The 49ers need to help their guys given the significant assignment of stopping game-wrecking defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Soft fouls also need to be eradicated: San Francisco has given up the second-most penalties this season.

Key player for the Lions: Frank Ragnow, center. The cornerstone of Detroit. Ragnow embodies Campbell’s last-man-standing mentality. A sprained knee against the Bucs, he continued to block. A sprained ankle on top of that, no problem. Jared Goff and Jahmyr Gibbs star in this ironman.

Key player for the 49ers: Deebo Samuel, wide receiver. San Francisco is said to be “cautiously optimistic” about it Samuel’s availability for Detroit. If he approves, they should be cautiously confident of making it to the Super Bowl. The 49ers are 12-2 this season – and average 31.4 points – when Samuel plays a full game, compared to a 1-3 record with an average of 18.8 without him. Shanahan needs his Swiss Army knife back.

Prediction: 49ers over Lions. Detroit’s shortcomings on defense are too great to overcome, especially against the pass. Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Christian McCaffery and Samuel are too strong when he takes the field. The forecast dry weather should also support Purdy’s accuracy.