NFL Conference Championship Sunday has been long regarded as the most exciting weekend in sports and that should continue with these two phenomenal matchups 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 LVII. The AFC title matchup features the two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and explosive offenses, while the NFC title matchup features two of the NFL’s best defenses and most explosive fanbases. These games should be quite entertaining!
Last week I went 3-1
I told you so: Bengals over Bills!
What do I know: Giants over Eagles?
#2 San Francisco 49ers at #1 Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, January 29th - 2:00pm CST - FOX
The 49ers and Eagles represent two of the NFL’s most talented, most balanced, and most dangerous teams. Philly won 13 of their first 14 games to start the season, fading in the final stretch before rebounding last week in the Divisional round. San Francisco stumbled out of the gate, losing 4 of their first 7 games, as well as losing their first and second string quarterbacks, before rattling off an astounding twelve-consecutive victories, the past eight guided by the steady hand of rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, who is enjoying a Warner/Brady-esque run this season and playoffs.
The lights have not shined this bright for this Eagles team’s players and its coaching staff. San Francisco’s core has been here before, quite a few times in recent years, including a year ago, where they failed in the final quarter, due to questionable quarterback play. Although Brock Purdy lacks that aforementioned experience, his poise and talent may be exactly what they need to win in this spot, where they fell short a year ago. Kyle Shanahan has the experience advantage, and he will need to dig deep into his bag of tricks to pull out the victory in the hostile environment at “The Linc”.
Likely 2022 NFL MVP Jalen Hurts will need to be at his best against the incredible Niners defense, while Brock Purdy will need to play like a veteran against the dominant Philly front four. This game will come down to each offense’s weapons making the most of the few opportunities they are given. Ultimately, the Niners have more weapons at their disposal with more experience in these moments. Even with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle on offense, it will be the play of the San Francisco offensive line, holding back the tide, that makes the biggest impact in this title game, allowing Purdy to get the ball in the hands of his aforementioned weapons. The big plays on each side will be few and far between, but San Francisco will cash in on just enough opportunities, compared to Philly, to make the difference. The 49ers grind it out, winning a trip to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.
Final Score: 20-17
#3 Cincinnati Bengals at #1 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 29th - 5:30pm 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 fifth 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 leaning on an old school, smash mouth approach. In year three, they defeated a Buffalo team who honestly believed they were the next in line in the AFC. In year four, the Bengals stunned the Arrowhead crowd to wrestle away the AFC title from the perennial champs.
A year ago, the Bengals seemed to have arrived as a Super Bowl contender ahead of schedule, but it has become quite clear they are right on schedule, and every bit the equal (if not ahead of) the standard-bearers in Kansas City. 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 a better defense than KC has fielded. Cincy even has three-consecutive victories over the Chiefs since 2022. They have proven they belong on the biggest stage, a place Patrick Mahomes has comfortably settled into, and Joe Burrow stands alongside him as an equal. They are the NFL’s new Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in many ways.
The biggest question coming into this title game is the health of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle. It’s certainly not a question of if he will play, as he most certainly will, but rather how much like his usual self he will play. With everything at stake in this game, expect Mahomes to give everything he has, even if it is 75% of his usual output. To be fair, 75% of Mahomes is still better than just about any other quarterback’s best, outside of Joe Burrow. As phenomenal as these quarterbacks are, the Cincy defense, much like a year ago, will come through in a big way, helping lead the Bengals to back-to-back AFC titles. For the second-consecutive season, the Cincinnati Bengals win the AFC Championship in Kansas City, by the same score even. Joe Burrow gets another shot to win the Super Bowl.
Final Score: 27-24
Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, your potential conference champions. Even without the New Orleans 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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Bengals vs. 49ers
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