NFL Conference Championship Sunday has been long regarded as the most exciting weekend in sports, but after last weekend’s Divisional Round, this Sunday has the unenviable task of living up to those heights. These games may not be able to live up to they heights set last weekend, but the stakes are even higher, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line in both games. As the road to the Super Bowl comes near its end, let’s take a look at the matchups ahead.
The NFL’s final four take the stage to determine who moves on to Super Bowl LVI. The AFC title matchup features the two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and explosive offenses, while the NFC title matchup features two bitter division rivals where one has dominated the other for five-consecutive seasons. These games should be quite entertaining!
Last week I went 4-0
I told you so: Everything apparently!
What do I know: Everything apparently?
#4 Cincinnati Bengals at #2 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 30th - 2:00pm CST - CBS
From 2011-2018, the New England Patriots played in eight consecutive AFC Championship Games, an unprecedented run that many believed couldn’t be duplicated, but here we are with the Kansas City Chiefs entering their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game with no end in sight as long as Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are in KC. In year one, the Chiefs faced defeat in OT to the Pats in the end of the Brady/Belichick Super Bowl dynasty. In year two, they defeated a Tennessee squad learning to become the team they are today. In year three, they defeated a Buffalo team who used that motivation to nearly topple KC just last week. In year four, we see a new contender emerge, the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals seem to have arrived as a Super Bowl contender ahead of schedule, but it wouldn't be surprising in the least to see them win this game, and the big one after that for that matter. They have key components that the Chiefs have used to get where they are today, a dynamic franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow, a brilliant receiving corps, led by Ja’Marr Chase, and perhaps an even better defense than KC has fielded. Cincy even has a huge win over the Chiefs just this past New Year’s Day. The only thing they truly lack is experience on a stage this big, a stage Patrick Mahomes was made for.
Patrick Mahomes and company have been nearly unbeatable since midseason. The Chiefs are simply as good as it gets in football, but these Bengals will give them a great challenge. Cincy won a “Game of the Year” candidate at home against KC in the regular season and that will give them a lot of confidence in this one. Joe Burrow and the Bengals will make big plays and this one will be close throughout, but the Chiefs will find a way to pull it out in the end, again. This game should be great, but Andy Reid will get back to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive year with the most dynamic team in football.
Final Score: 33-30
#6 San Francisco 49ers “at” #4 Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, January 30th - 5:30pm CST - FOX
Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are 6-0 in the last six meetings against Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams, including a 21-point win in the Bay and an overtime victory thanks to a rally from trailing 17-0 in the first half in Los Angeles. Since joining the franchise in 2017, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has never lost a game he has started against the Los Angeles Rams. To say the Niners have the mental, emotional, and physical edge against the Rams would be a severe understatement. Simply put, Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy G should have to claim Sean McVay and the Rams on their income taxes. Not only do these Niners own these Rams, but the 49ers fans own the “Rams House” in Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, where the winner will play for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVI in two weeks.
What you are about to witness is the most embarrassing “homefield advantage” in NFC Championship history. It’s not just that thousands of 49ers fans will make the 6-hour drive south or the short 75-minute flight to Los Angeles fo take over the stadium, that’s bad enough, it’s that there are already thousands of 49ers fans already entrenched as residents of the greater Los Angeles area. The Rams have tried every ploy imaginable to make sure tickets land in the hands of Rams fans instead of the Niners faithful, but how do you ensure tickets to a fan base that is hopelessly outnumbered, even in their own city. They simply can’t.
Every Rams season ticket holder I know here in Los Angeles is ecstatic about this Sunday, not because they are Rams fans excited about the prospect of playing a home Super Bowl, in fact, not a single one of them support the Rams, they are, like a vast number of Rams season ticket holders, fans of other teams that have made an investment that is paying off gloriously to the legion of San Francisco fans, both local and from the Bay. The 49ers had a massive showing of fans at SoFi Stadium in the regular season finale but all signs are pointing to this crowd being far more Niner heavy. Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense may wish they were back in Tampa where they could actually hear their snap count and audibles. Expect the home stadium to be treacherous for the home team here.
The Rams have shown to have a very strong gag reflex. They showed this on full display the last time they hosted the Niners in the regular season finale, and they warmed it up in the second half against Tampa last week, saved only by the clock and a Gregg Williams-esque blitz that baffled the mind by Tampa. They will fulfill their destiny of throwing it all away here. The chance to try to connect with a town that couldn't care less, the chance to honestly earn a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time since returning to Los Angeles, the chance to be the second-consecutive team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, the chance to finally get the best of their rival that has them in the palm of their hand, it will all once again turn to ash for the Rams. The 49ers defense will again lift the team across the finish line. Star playmakers Deebo Samuel and George Kittle will make up for the injuries and deficiencies of Kyle Shanahan’s good luck charm, Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers do it again, winning a surprising trip to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons, and it won't really be close, as the Niners celebrate in front of their home crowd.
Final Score: 28-17
Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, your potential conference champions. Even without the Saints in the playoffs, we definitely have some players and story lines to root for and against this weekend. Leave us your picks, insight, and comments below!
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