Completely crazy weekend in the NFL, with two huge surprises during these playoffs and four games whose outcome was decided with less than one possession difference. After a Divisional Round to the dantesque scenarios, place next week at the conference finals, to find out who will represent the AFC and the NFC during the fifty-sixth Super Bowl.
American Conference (AFC)
#4 Cincinnati Bengals [10-7] @#2 Kansas City Chiefs [12-5]
Sunday, January 30, 9:00 p.m.
The beautiful story of these NFL playoffs against the ogre of the American Conference. On paper, the looming conference final between the Bengals and the Chiefs seems unbalanced, as the Missouri franchise has asserted its dominance over the AFC in recent years (three conference finals in three years, with two consecutive Super Bowl qualifiers). However, devaluing the campaign carried out by Cincinnati would be unfair to a group that has surprised and continues to surprise in the current financial year.
Absent from the playoffs since 2015 and without a single victory in postseason since 1990, the Bengals have thwarted the odds for two games. First winner of the Raiders during the Wild Card Weekend To put an end to a black series of more than thirty-one years, the Ohio franchise struck even harder on Saturday evening by defeating the Titans, yet the number 1 seed in the conference. Despite the return of Derrick Henry on the lawns, Tennessee was scuttled by throwing three interceptions and ended up being eliminated on a walk off field goal of 52 yards from Evan McPherson for the Bengals. Sacked nine times, Joe Burrow still managed to give rhythm to his attack, thanks in particular to a good connection with Ja’Marr Chase, and Cincinnati will thus find next Sunday the AFC Championship Gamea first since the 1988 season.
In front of them, the orange and black will have Chiefs passed very close to elimination against the Bills in a historically tight meeting with a breathtaking final which saw Patrick Mahomes and his teammates win after extra time. After a healthy ride against the Steelers last week, Andy Reid’s players were more than hooked by the New York State franchise, which led twice with less than two minutes on the clock. Kansas City finally got away with it thanks to a sparkling Mahomes able to place his kicker for the equalizing field goal (49 yards) with only fourteen seconds to play, then lead a drive into the end zone on the first possession of overtime. From now on, it will be necessary to repeat this performance to go and play a third Super Bowl in a row.
As said before, the Chiefs will start as favorites in this meeting, having proven against Buffalo that their attack was more than ever unstoppable. Despite an elite defense and an offense that has long been able to keep pace, Buffalo suffered from the overtime rule that prevented it from being able to respond to the Chiefs, and it shows the level that the Bengals will have to display to hope to shake the game. two-time American Conference title holder. Still young, the Cincinnati group is already living a season beyond expectations, and seeing them play the third Super Bowl in their history would almost be a feat. Nevertheless, grounds for hope exist, such as the victory of the Bengals in Week 17 (34-31 victory on January 2) at Paul Brown Stadium, the Chiefs’ only loss since early November. If the meeting will this time take place at Arrowhead, Cincinnati can believe it, but will have to rely on a great game from Joe Burrow combined with a slowdown in the Kansas City attack. See you in a week to get to the bottom of it.
— NFL (@NFL) January 24, 2022
National Conference (NFC)
#6 San Francisco 49ers [10-7] @#4 Los Angeles Rams [12-5]
Night from Sunday 30 to Monday 31 January, 12:30 a.m.
A rather unexpected rematch between two franchises who faced each other during the last week of the regular season, a meeting which had allowed San Francisco to snatch its qualification in the playoffs and which had not prevented the Rams from validating the division title in the NFC West. However, can we expect a similar scenario two weeks later, in the conference final? Nothing is less certain, even if the two teams have been full of confidence since their entry into the running in the postseason.
For the 49ers, their recent results confirm the return to grace of a team that had been plagued by injuries last year, preventing the Bay franchise from confirming after a 2020 campaign that took Kyle Shanahan’s men so far. in Super Bowl LIV (31-20 loss against the Chiefs). After disposing of the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild CardsSan Francisco achieved the largest upset of the weekend by bringing down the Packers of – presumably – MVP Aaron Rodgers, favorites of many bookmakers for the title, on a field goal from 45 yards at the end of the clock from Robbie Gould. Thanks to an excellent defense that stifled the offensive squad of Green Bay and a blocked punt, the 49ers thus overcame the best team in the National Conference, despite a more than average performance from their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (11 / 19, 131 yards, 1 INT – 57.1 QB Rating). A sign that the defense can carry the team, and that it is capable of doing much better offensively.
For their part, the Rams played to be scared against the Buccaneers. After a controlled victory against the Cardinals in the previous round, Los Angeles largely dominated the defending champion on its own ground, counting up to twenty-four points in advance with only a quarter and a half to play. Nevertheless, Tom Brady, of which it was perhaps the last game in the NFL, and his partners will succeed in an unexpected comeback by equalizing only forty-six seconds from the end of regulation time. Back to the wall after being well ahead, the Rams will end up succeeding in offering a very advantageous position to Matt Gay to hit the field goal of victory, field goal of 30 yards that the kicker will convert to send his own to the NFC Championship Game.
So the wins for the 49ers and the Rams will give us a remake of the Week 18 between two division rivals who know each other by heart. If the last direct confrontation resulted in a success for San Francisco (27-24 after extra time) which played its qualification on this match, difficult to place them favorites, even if the residents of the Levi’s Stadium had also won their other match against Los Angeles in Week 10 with a much more comfortable lead (31-10 victory on November 15). In a different context, the conference final, the playmakers the Rams, already decisive against the Buccaneers, will have plenty of time to make the powder talk, and will absolutely have to find solutions against the San Francisco defense. If the Rams manage to pack the game, it’s hard to see Jimmy Garoppolo succeed in keeping up with the pace, especially against a defense also very rich in talented players. Still, the last game storyline has already proven that observation wrong, and it’s entirely plausible that the 49ers will repeat that performance. See you overnight from Sunday to Monday to find out who will succeed in qualifying for a second Super Bowl in four seasons and will have the opportunity to take their revenge*.
* Fallen finalists of Super Bowl LIV, lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers had succeeded in the role of the representative of the NFC to the Rams, beaten by the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
— NFL (@NFL) January 23, 2022
See you this Sunday for the conference finals, to find out who will succeed the Chiefs and the Buccaneers in the biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl, which will take place on the night of Sunday February 13 to Monday February 14 from 12:30 a.m. at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Feature image credit: Kareem Elgazzar/THE ENQUIRER
The words “Minnesota Miracle” and “No-Call” are scratched from my vocabulary. My heart mourns the retirement of Drew Brees as my eyes finally widen watching the Knicks.