The Chiefs and the Rams start as slight favorites against the Bengals and the 49ers to seal their ticket to the Super Bowl on Sunday, in the penultimate stop of a fast-paced NFL playoffs that have left famous victims along the way.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals, who will meet in the AFC final, and the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, who will meet for the National Championship, are the last four teams standing in a postseason marked by surprises and comebacks at the last second.
The American Football League (NFL) has barely been able to catch its breath after the vibrant divisional round, which for many was the best weekend in the sport in recent decades.
Three of the four games were decided by field goals in the last breath and meant the farewell, perhaps definitive, of two legends like Tom Brady (Buccaneers) and Aaron Rodgers (Packers).
In the fourth and final game, star Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs survived an epic overtime sudden-death battle against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.
Overcome the scare, the Chiefs, champions in 2020 and runners-up in 2021, now aspire to end the extraordinary season of the young Bengals on Sunday from 2:00 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. GMT), in the fourth conference final they host in a row. at Arrowhead Stadium.
A win on Sunday would make Mahomes the fourth quarterback in history to appear in three Super Bowls in a row.
This feat would add to the already sensational track record of the Texan at just 26 years old, who also has an MVP (Most Valuable Player) award for the season in 2018 and another for the Super Bowl in 2020.
The Chiefs were able to readjust their schemes after a dismal start to the season and now Mahomes is in excellent form and has reestablished his connections with the other Chiefs figures, the powerful ‘tight end’ Travis Kelce and the speedy receiver Tyreek Hill.
Despite his talent and his stripes, Kansas City knows he can’t be confident against the Bengals, the only team to beat him in the last 12 games.
In that 34-31 win earlier this month, up-and-coming quarterback Joe Burrow tipped off Mahomes by throwing for four touchdowns and 446 yards.
The young quarterback, number one in the 2020 Draft, began building his playoff run by leading the Bengals to victory over the conference-seeded Tennessee Titans on Sunday, despite receiving a record nine sacks. ‘.
At his disposal he will have a luxury offensive line in which receiver Ja’Marr Chase, only 21 years old, stands out.
– Rams one step away from ‘their’ Super Bowl –
In the second conference final, which will start at 3:30 p.m. local time (23:30 GMT) in Los Angeles, the Rams will receive the 49ers in their brand new SoFi Stadium, the same venue as the Super Bowl on February 13.
In recent months, the Rams have made a gigantic investment, with signings such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller, to play the Super Bowl on their court, a feat that no one had achieved in the NFL until Brady’s Buccanneers on last year.
To do this, the Rams have a fierce defense led by Jalen Ramsey and an attack led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and star receiver Cooper Kupp.
His last obstacle will be the 49ers, an unexpected guest at this point in the playoffs, who are still alive and aspiring to their second Super Bowl in three years despite lacking figures like those of yesteryear.
San Francisco relies on the toughness of a block that was able to eliminate Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers on Sunday at frigid Lambeau Field.
Coach Kyle Shanahan, who shared a coaching staff in Washington with Rams colleague Sean McVay, has to lean on the least reliable quarterback in these Finals, Jimmy Garoppolo, but he can hold on to the stats.
The 49ers have emerged victorious in the last six meetings between the two franchises, most recently with a 27-24 victory earlier this month at SoFi Stadium.
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Chiefs and Rams, favorites for the last battle before the Super Bowl