By: Lucas Kochevar
The NFL showed why its the super power of all American sports by having the most exciting, dramatic divisional round we've ever seen. The games were full of action from start to finish. It was a thrilling time for certain fans and agonizing for others. With every game, there were highs and lows. I truly don't think we'll see anything like this weekend for football. These games all set up for a highly anticipated conference championship round.
The AFC is in store for a ton of points in its championship game. The Cincinnati Bengals, the most surprising team of the year, keeps winning their playoff games with Joe Burrow carrying the team on his back. The Bengals went into Nashville and stunned the number one seed Titans with a last second victory as K Evan McPherson nailed the game-winning kick. The Chiefs were on the brink of elimination with 13 seconds left, but Patrick Mahomes, once again, performed miracles and lead KC down the field in two plays to kick the game-tying field goal. This was with some help from the Bills playing prevent defense, but this was still an unbelievable feat for a team that has accomplished so much. This game will be Mahomes' 4th straight AFC championship. The Chiefs have made the AFC championship game every year he has started.
These two teams do go into this game with some familiarity of each other. The two teams matched up in week 17 in Cincinnati, where the Bengals won 34-31 in a thrilling game. This game won the AFC North for the Bengals and likely secured Jamarr Chase the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as he had more receiving yards than Mahomes had passing. It truly was an unbelievable performance and put the Bengals on the map. The Bengals head into this game as a massive underdog as the Chiefs still look unstoppable and the Bengals are still so young, but there is still optimism that the Bengals could make something happen. The only way Cincy can win this game is by keeping points on the board. This team has been an offensive powerhouse all year with flashes of defense. They need that offense to show up again in this game, big time. The Chiefs are gonna have their hands full with all these weapons and they just did a good job trying to stop Buffalo, for majority of the game. The difference now is that Cincy has a game-changing RB in Joe Mixon compared to the Bills running game. Kansas City should keep humming on offense, but the Bengals have an opportunistic defense, so beware. I think this is a high-scoring game with the Chiefs clinching their third straight Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs def. Cincinnati Bengals
The NFC championship is a division match-up between two teams from the NFC West. This game never seemed like a possibility given the path they would have to travel. The 49ers had to go on the road for two games against two of the hottest teams in the league. The Rams had to beat the Cardinals, who dominated the Rams earlier in the year, and the defending champs, Tampa Bay. These teams have gone through the gauntlet all season and now meetup to see who will clinch the Super Bowl berth. The Rams had to survive a Tom Brady comeback attempt and the Niners stumped Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Both teams won on game-winning field goals. These two teams also met up in week 18, where the 49ers stunned the Rams by coming back from double digits. The 49ers had to win the game in order to clinch and they did with Jimmy Garappolo playing his best half of the season in that second half.
This game is hard to get a read on. One thing is for certain, I don't think this game will be close. The Rams got dominated when they travelled to San Francisco on Monday Night football. The Rams were cruising in the first half of the last game and then the 49ers dominated the Rams in order to comeback. We also have been spoiled with insane games this past weekend and we have to realize that playoff football doesn't always have game-winning field goals. I think the Rams present interesting challenges to the 49ers with a great, well-rounded passing attack. The 49ers defense played their best game and will have to deliver another stellar performance to stop Matthew Stafford and this offense. I think the 49ers pass rush will be able to provide issues for the interior offensive line. On the flip side, the 49ers desperately need Jimmy G to play average. If he plays bad, then it can go south really quickly. The 49ers will also have to deal with some injuries as Deebo Samuel and George Kittle both appeared to be limping somewhat in their win against the Packers. The 49ers offense is likely better than what the Buccaneers showed the Rams last Sunday, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to the challenge. I expect Jalen Ramsey to get an interception after he was embarrassed by Mike Evans on a long touchdown. In the end, I think the Rams will live up to their preseason hype and clinch the Super Bowl with a convincing win.
Los Angeles Rams def. San Francisco 49ers