We’re now down to the final four teams of the NFL season as the postseason continues on Sunday with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC in a rematch of last year’s title game as the Chiefs look to avenge their 0-3 record against Joe Burrow and the Bengals over the past year. On the NFC side, we have the Philadelphia Eagles, who had the best record all season steamrolling past the upstart New York Giants. The Eagles will be meeting the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game after they took care of business at home against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.
In what’s been a scintillating postseason for the most part, let’s recap some of the Divisional Round games and make my Championship game predictions.
Chiefs vs Jaguars:
The Chiefs are coming into this postseason as the No.1 seed in the AFC with a 13-4 record which resulted in a first-round bye for the AFC powerhouse. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs faced off against the fourth-seeded Jacksonville Jaguars led by their own young, budding star quarterback Trevor Lawrence whose production and efficiency improved dramatically from year one to year two.
The Jaguars were fresh off completing one of the greatest comebacks in NFL postseason history by coming back from a 27-0 deficit against the Justin Herbert-led Los Angeles Chargers just the week prior. Lawrence threw for four interceptions in that first half but turned it around to help his team rally past the Chargers.
The Chiefs ultimately won the game 27-20 after a crucial fumble late in the fourth quarter that squandered any chances for an upset against the Chiefs with a hobbled Mahomes who suffered a high right ankle sprain in the first quarter that kept it close throughout.
The Chiefs now move forward to their fifth consecutive AFC title game and look to make their third Super Bowl appearance in five years. Before they do that though they will have to get past a Bengals team that has had their number this last calendar year. With a Hobbled Mahomes, the Bengals are bow favored as -1.5 betting favorites as Burrow has proven time and time again that he can deliver in the clutch. With an improved offensive line and elite chemistry with wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Bengals vs Bills:
Both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills came into the season as the favorites in what is a loaded AFC. Many had the Bills as potential favorites in winning the game due to being accustomed to the brutal cold, snow conditions that were present in the game. However, “SnowBurrow” came through in the biggest of moments once again as he has many times throughout his career as he completed 23-of-36 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, outplaying Bills star quarterback Josh Allen in their 27-10 win.
It made for another thrilling victory by the Bengals who were fresh off a chaotic 24-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens off a 99-yard return from defensive end Sam Hubbard. The Bills struggled to get anything going offensively in the turbulent weather as they had a total of just 325 yards throughout the game despite being a top-five offense all season.
The Bengals will now face the Chiefs for the second consecutive season in the AFC Championship game as they look to seek revenge on their Super Bowl loss from the Los Angeles Rams last season. A hungry more experienced Bengals team this time around who is playing with brash confidence looks to beat the Chiefs for the fourth straight time in the last year to advance to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years.
With a hobbled Mahomes, an improved offensive line, and a quarterback in Burrow who is unphased no matter how bright the lights are, anything is possible with this Bengals team as they look to capture a Super Bowl.
Giants vs Eagles
The New York Giants were the Cinderella story this past season after shocking many by making the playoffs and even defeating the Minnesota Vikings on their home field in the Wild Card round in a game where their quarterback Daniel Jones aka “Danny Dimes” made history as the only quarterback to ever throw for 300+ yards, two touchdowns, and rush for 70+ yards in a game.
Despite a confidence-building victory against the Vikings, the Giants were thrown back into the reality of how much farther they have to go to be true Super Bowl contenders after losing 38-7 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Eagles star quarterback, Jalen Hurts was playing with an injured right shoulder but still managed to be effective by accumulating 154 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Eagles had the best pass-rushing defense all season and the second-best offense in the league according to https://www.lineups.com/nfl-team-rankings behind the unique dual threat of the dynamic Jalen Hurts and the weapons they have at wide receiver in guys like DeVonta Smith and Kenneth Gainwell.
The Eagles easily moved past the Giants but will have more of a test against the relentless, well-coached San Francisco 49ers that have been playing inspiring football under head coach Kyle Shanahan and rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.
Speaking of the 49ers, they took care of business on their home turf by defeating America’s team in the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 in what was a low offensive output on both sides compared to the other games played during the weekend due to both teams boasting top defenses all season.
Prescott threw two costly interceptions in the game that could’ve given the Cowboys a chance to defeat the 49ers, but the Niners proved too suffocating on defense for the Cowboys' offense, limiting them to just 282 total yards in the game.
The Niners will now have a tall task of playing the No.1 seeded Eagles in what should be a very competitive game between the best defensive team in the Niners, and the second-best ranked offense in the Eagles.
With rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, who seems unphased by the pressure of the postseason since being inserted as a starter for Jimmy Garropolo earlier in the season, and an elite running game, the NFC title game should be a heavyweight match for who should ultimately get their rightful spot to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
If the first two weekends of the playoffs were any indication of what’s to come in what should be two highly cutthroat title games, sports and football fans are in for a real treat.