Well the NFL Final Four is set with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC slot in the Super Bowl while the AFC Championship features the surprising Cincinnati Bengals facing the Kansas City chiefs hosting their fourth straight title game.
Let’s take a look at how these teams made to the Championship Weekend
Though the NFL odds were tilting in their favor, for Kansas City it was a hold-your-breath 42-36 win over Buffalo capped a divisional round in which the other three games were decided on final-play field goals giving the visitors wins. The Chiefs and Bills scored three touchdowns and a last-second field goal in the final two minutes Sunday night before two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City won on Travis Kelce’s 8-yard TD catch on the first series of the extra period.
Patrick Mahomes found 13 seconds, enough time to engineer a drive to Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal as regulation ended in Kansas City. The Chiefs won the coin toss, marched downfield against an exhausted Buffalo defense, and found Kelce in the corner of the end zone.
“We’re going to play that team a lot of times, and games like this,” Mahomes said of the Bills. “With that quarterback, with that coaching staff and the players they have, it’s going to be a lot of battles. I’m glad we got this one. We’re going to try to keep it rolling, we’ve got a good team coming in next week, but we get to be at Arrowhead for the AFC championship.”
Their 6-point margin on a classic weekend NFL fans will long remember was twice that of each of the other three divisional-round contests.
Rookie Evan McPherson won it 19-16 at Tennessee with a 52-yard field goal for Cincinnati, which emerged from the postseason desert last week by winning for the first time since 1991 — yes, ’91 — with a 26-19 home victory against Las Vegas. The Bengals (12-7), champions of the AFC North, followed that with their first playoff victory away from home.
They will bring their increasing momentum and confidence to Arrowhead Stadium.
The Bengals, who lost twice in the Super Bowl to San Francisco in the 1980s, had perhaps their signature win in 2021 in Week 17, taking down the visiting Chiefs 34-31 in Cincinnati as Joe Burrow went 30 for 39 for 446 yards and four touchdowns. With the way this weekend’s games went, another such barnburner seems likely.
Meanwhile in the NFC
The Rams won in spectacular fashion 30-27 after a mammoth flop in which they blew a 27-3 second-half lead. Matthew Stafford hit unanimous All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp with a 44-yard pass in the final minute, then Matt Gay made a 30-yard field goal to win it.
If this was the final game of Tom Brady’s illustrious, title-filled career, it was a tough way to go out. The 44-year-old quarterback, helped by Rams giveaways, nearly replicated the comeback from 25 points down against Atlanta in the second half of the 2017 Super Bowl. But soon after Leonard Fournette’s 9-yard run tied it, the Rams turned around and won it.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I mean, we sure let ’em back in the game with a bunch of mistakes on offense,” Stafford said. “Our defense played outstanding. We’ve got to clean some stuff up, do a little better job in the turnover department. This is a tough team, man, this is what we’re all about. Just happy to get a win and keep on moving.”
For the second time in three seasons, the 49ers are heading to the NFC championship game. They defeated the top-seeded Packers 13-10 at a snowy Lambeau Field in the divisional round Saturday night.
Robbie Gould kicked a 45-yard field goal as time expired to win the game. He remained perfect (20 for 20) on field goal attempts in the postseason. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, is now a perfect 0-4 all time against San Francisco in the playoffs.
Green Bay totaled just 263 yards, including just 67 on the ground. It averaged just 4.9 yards per play. Rodgers was sacked four times. After scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the Packers went six drives before scoring again, on a field goal by Mason Crosby at the 9:01 mark of the third quarter.
The 49ers had their own offensive woes. The Packers registered five sacks on 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, including four on third down. San Francisco totaled just 212 yards (4.1 yards per play) and went 5 for 11 on third down.
In the end it was just the kind of game San Francisco loves to play a messy, defensive battle. The Packers continue to have problems in the playoffs and the future in Green Bay is uncertain so it is like the end of the season last year.