And then there were four.
The last week’s Divisional Round may go down in history as the wildest, most exciting weekend of football ever. It saw shootouts and comebacks, heartbreak and triumph. We’re left with the fallout of it all. Can either of these games match the entertainment level?
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On to the games!
The Cincinnati Bengals stunned many by merely making the playoffs. Now, after toppling the top seed in the AFC, Cincinnati is looking to take down one more juggernaut on their storybook playoff run. That juggernaut is no laughing matter, however. The Kansas City Chiefs are fresh off an absurd showdown with the Buffalo Bills, where Patrick Mahomes went blow for blow with Josh Allen in the final minutes. If the Chiefs want to advance to another Super Bowl, Mahomes and company will have to take down another rising star at quarterback.
Joe Burrow has been phenomenal in his sophomore season, and the LSU connection with Ja’Marr Chase has been electric. If Cincinnati wants to win today, they will need to protect burrow. The offensive line has had plenty of woes, evident by the nine sacks allowed versus Tennessee. They survived thanks to the defense coming up clutch, but against the Chiefs offense, it could easily turn into a shootout. This game may come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.
Will the Chiefs break through to yet another Super Bowl, or will the Bengals continue their improbable run?
The NFC side of last week’s slate of games surely brought a swing of emotions for Lions fans. On Saturday, the Green Bay Packers were defeated in embarrassing fashion by the San Francisco 49ers, a win in which the offense scored zero points. On Sunday, meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams nearly became another Tom Brady anecdote after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clawed their way back from a 27-3 deficit. Thankfully for Rams fans—and unthankfully for Lions fans cheering for a better draft pick—Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp saved the day on a game-winning drive.
Will we see that sort of fanfare tonight? The 49ers enter the evening as the underdogs, and for good reason. The Kyle Shanahan offense has been unstoppable at times, but they will need a better outing from Jimmy Garoppolo against a fierce Rams defense. Worse yet, Trent Williams has a lingering injury. Even if he plays, the All-Pro tackle may be limited. It may fall on the shoulders of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle to provide the explosive plays.
Speaking of explosive plays, it seems like no defense has an answer for Cooper Kupp. The leader in yards, catches, and touchdowns, his rapport with Matthew Stafford has produced one of the greatest receiving seasons in history. Despite a key fumble against the Buccaneers, Kupp and Stafford found their groove late in the game. The question for the Rams is if they can minimize their mistakes. Cam Akers had two killer fumbles last week, and that’s not even accounting for his mere 2.0 yards per carry. The Rams will need more production on the ground tonight.
Can Stafford and the Rams book their spot in the Super Bowl, or will the 49ers stun another favorite?
Date: Sunday, January 30, 2022
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews
Online streaming: FoxSports.com