Conference championship preview

Conference championship preview

What a weekend the divisional games were – wow! I went with my head, when I should have gone with my heart in those games, so the teams I wanted (minus the Bills) are through – so I’m even more excited for the weekend ahead. Let’s see what is in store…!

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Cincinnati Bengals showed the world what they can do last week. This isn’t a fluke playoff run, they have now beaten the Las Vegas Raiders and the number one seeded Tennessee Titans in the postseason. They are going to have to hit the road in this AFC Championship game, but that shouldn’t be an issue because they were on the road last week as well.

Joe Burrow really is just cruising through his opponents. He doesn’t look like a rookie at all back there. Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins make his job a lot easier though, with each of them consistently getting open deep down the field for big chunks. However, the offensive line has to get better. They allowed nine sacks last week, a new playoff record. It’s a miracle that through all of that this group still won the game. Their defense was where they really started to clamp down. They forced numerous turnovers including a huge one with a minute left in the game, the Titans never touched the field again after that either. Everything is clicking for the Bengals, and their confidence behind Burrow is helping them play without fear.

That is something you have to do when going against the Kansas City Chiefs nowadays. The Buffalo Bills defense played with fear, and you could tell when you watched them get consistently torched down the field. Sadly, Josh Allen and this offense completely deserved to win this game yet the number one defense in the league failed them on the other end. At the two-minute warning, the Chiefs got the ball and scored a touchdown a minute later. Buffalo got it back and scored with 13 seconds left in regulation, taking a three-point lead. Somehow, Patrick Mahomes got his team down about 60 yards in two plays to kick a tying field goal and won the game on the first drive of overtime. You can’t write this stuff.

Everybody is going to be planning to take the Chiefs here and who can blame them. I am going to take the underdog here; the Bengals don’t seem to be a team that plays with fear, and they beat them late in the regular season.

San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams

The San Francisco 49ers proved that their season isn’t a fluke either. Despite narrowly making the playoffs, they were able to upset the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round. They followed that showing up by upsetting the number one seeded Green Bay Packers as well! Nobody was thinking that Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams would go down like that, yet it happened. San Francisco was trailing 10-3 for what felt like an eternity. Then, they were able to block a Green Bay punt and return it for a touchdown. They also blocked a Packers field goal attempt a little bit earlier in the game, so it happened to be 10-10 after Green Bay was basically dominating the whole game. On the last few seconds, Robbie Gould kicked a field goal that gave the 49ers their first lead of the night, as time expired. This team isn’t to be overlooked even though they don’t seem like Super Bowl contenders.

The Los Angeles Rams have to be careful here. We heard earlier that San Francisco has beaten them six straight times now. That isn’t good news for a team that just fumbled four times and crumbled from a 20 plus point lead against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Rams may have dominated the Arizona Cardinals, but their performance against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay was horrendous. Luckily, they squeaked out a win anyways and get home field advantage in the NFC Championship, but still. The Rams have so much superstar talent on this roster, but we have seen them crumble in big moments a few times this season, plus their track record clearly isn’t that strong against the 49ers.

Maybe this will just be an upset filled weekend, I just have a feeling that the 49ers are going to be able to somehow find a way to win this game. Though I will admit it is wildly difficult for teams to beat the same opponent three times in one season. 

Photo copyright: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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