It is hard to see how either of this year’s explosive AFC Championship hopefuls can be beaten in the Super Bowl by their NFC counterparts – mind you, we felt that way last season.
Rising star and 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and Super Bowl LIV champion and MVP Patrick Mahomes lead their sides into battle to fill the AFC’s Super Bowl slot on Sunday night and many will be disappointed if it is not a high-scoring, nail-biting cracker.
Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals beat the Raiders by a touchdown and the top-seeded Titans by a field goal to get this far, breaking the NFL’s longest drought without a playoff win along the way.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are coming off a classic encounter that rounded off an epic week of playoff action, defeating the Bills 42-36 in overtime last week. Their fans believe they’re going to make their third straight Super Bowl appearance.
Kansas City has won 11 of its last 12 games. The only team to beat them in that period? The Bengals.
Cincinnati won the Week 17 regular-season meeting with Kansas City 34-31 despite trailing 28-17 at halftime, which reinforces the point that neither offence can ever be counted out.
It’s true that Cincinnati has won its two playoff games with defence more than anything, but the Chiefs’ defence, which had a dominant stretch during the second half of the regular season, showed its flaws again against Buffalo.
Burrow and his terrible trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd can pick up big chunk plays against the Kansas City secondary, especially Chase, who racked up 266 yards and three touchdowns in the earlier meeting.
Meanwhile, a civil war ensues in California as the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams face off in the NFC Championship game.
Both sides have surprised many to get this far, particularly the 49ers who dethroned the top-seeded Green Bay Packers last week.
They are on the road for the third week in a row against a Rams side who are backed by the on-fire Matthew Stafford who held off a near-inevitable Tom Brady comeback last week, and LA will likely do anything necessary to reach what will be a home Super Bowl.
Will the 49ers make it a third underdog win in a row? The answer lies not in how dynamic quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be in comparison with his Rams counterpart. This will instead be a tactical battle where wits and bottle will be necessary to secure victory.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has a 7-3 record against Rams coach Sean McVay, and what will give San Francisco confidence is how in Week 18 they beat the Rams on the road to earn a spot in the playoffs.
In that game the 49ers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to win the game, 27-24 and the 49ers defensive line dominated the Rams offensive line.
So, even if the Rams get an early lead, they will need to find a way to hold onto it, which they didn’t do against Tampa Bay last week (despite their late salvation) and didn’t do against San Francisco either.
Verdict: It will be a Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl.