We look ahead to the coming weekend’s matchups, potential storylines, and a whole lot more. Follow along this week on all Chiefs Focus social media platforms, the 1st and 10 Podcast, as well as the blog for coverage and insights.
Charles Robinson @CRob5769
And then there were 4. After a weekend of Divisional Round thrillers where each game ended in walk-off fashion, we have found ourselves staring down the second biggest Sunday of the NFL season. Three of the teams competing this weekend are familiar with the stakes, with the Rams having won the NFC Championship in 2019, the 49ers in 2020, and the Chiefs taking home the AFC’s crown in both 2020 and 2021 after losing the 2019 AFC Championship game. Cincinnati, however, will take part in Championship Weekend for the first time since 1989. We’ll see opposing forces at work in each game. The Rams will likely get off to a quick start against the 49ers, but can they hold on against the NFC’s most resilient team? Kansas City had no answer for the Bayou Bengal duo of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase in early January, what will they throw at the Bengals on Sunday to slow them down? How will Patrick Mahomes follow up his virtuoso performance against the Bills last weekend?
All these questions, and more that come up throughout the course of the week leading up to Sunday, will be answered by around 9 PM central time on Sunday night. Once the dust has settled and the battles have been fought, we will have two teams left standing. Two teams that will play for the right to hoist on of the most prestigious trophies in all professional sports – the Lomabardi Trophy. Will the Chiefs join the 70’s Dolphins, 90’s Bills, and 2010’s Patriots as the only teams to advance to 3 consecutive Super Bowls? Do the Bengals have enough magic left to get a crack at winning their first? Can the 49ers avenge the 2020 loss to Kansas City and bring it home this year? Can LA take advantage of the moment and play just the second Super Bowl home game in history? The beauty of it all is that we must wait and see, and we’ll all find out at the exact same time.
(4) Cincinnati Bengals at (2) Kansas City Chiefs – AFC Championship – Saturday 2:05 CST; CBS
On the Call : Jim Nance and Tony Romo
- Cincinnati now has more playoff wins in 2022 than it did in the previous 32 years combined after beating the number 1 seed Tennessee Titans in Nashville last weekend 19-16 on a walk off field goal by rookie kicker Evan McPherson.
- Kansas City and Buffalo played what is likely the greatest game in NFL history last weekend at Arrowhead Stadium – a 42-36 overtime win for the Chiefs that clinched their fourth consecutive home AFC Championship appearance. No other team in league history has hosted four consecutive conference championships.
- Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow looks to extend a legacy building season by one more game against the Chiefs, who Cincinnati beat at home in week 17 of the regular season 34-31.
- Patrick Mahomes enters the AFC Championship game with 782 yards passing and 8 touchdowns. The NFL record for passing yards in a postseason is 1,219 set by Eli Manning in 2011, and the record for most passing touchdowns in a single postseason is 11 (Joe Flacco, Joe Montana, Kurt Warner). With a win against Cincinnati and a Super Bowl appearance, Mahomes would need just 219 passing yards per game and 3 more touchdowns between the two games.
- Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce needs 93 yards receiving against Cincinnati to move into 5th all time on the post season receiving yards. He is currently 4th all time in postseason receiving touchdowns at 11.
- Bengals rookie receiver had a heyday against the Kansas City defense when the two met in week 17, catching 11 passes for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns. His rookie season was one of the best of all time, and he will look for lightning to strike twice on Sunday against a Chiefs secondary that had no answers for him the first time around.
- This will be the 30th meeting between the two franchises. Cincinnati holds a 16-14 all time lead in the series, but it will be their first trip to Arrowhead Stadium since 2018 when they lost 45-10. Kansas City is 9-7 all time at home against the Bengals. This will be the first time the two teams have faced each other in the playoffs.
- The Chiefs are currently 7 point favorites.
(6) San Francisco 49ers at (4) Los Angeles Rams – NFC – Saturday 5:40 CST; Fox
On the Call : Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
- The 49ers, coming off a last second 13-10 slugfest in the snow over the NFC’s top seeded Green Bay Packers will head to LA to take on their division rival Rams.
- The Rams, after dethroning Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27 on a game ending field goal of their own, will look to break a 6-game losing streak against the 49ers.
- This will be the first NFC Championship appearance for Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. As the quarterback of the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons, Stafford never won a playoff game (0-3).
- 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will look to silence critics saying that the team is winning in spite of him rather than because of him. The last time these two teams squared off, in week 18 of the regular season, Jimmy G engineered a 17 point second half comeback to clinch a playoff spot for the Niners. More of the same in this game would clinch a second Super Bowl appearance in 3 years for San Fran.
- The San Francisco defense should be very well prepared for this matchup – it is the third time this year that these two teams played, and the last time the Niners made it this far in the postseason it was behind a strong defensive effort throughout the NFC playoffs.
- Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr and cornerback Jalen Ramsey will make their Championship game debuts and look to continue making an impact on Los Angeles’ 2021-2022 playoff run.
- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Rams coach Sean McVay continue to add to their rivalry after a long stint as colleagues and friends. Both coached together in 2013 for the Washington Football Team under Kyle’s dad Mike Shanahan.
- This will be the 145th time these two teams have squared off as division rivals. The 49ers hold a 75-67-3 all time advantage, including the last 6 consecutive. Their only other postseason meeting was the 1989 NFC Championship, a game that the 49ers won 30-3.
- Los Angeles is currently a 3.5 point favorite.