Chiefs and Rams play-off favorites with required wariness
Almost miraculous winners in the previous round, which culminated in one of the greatest play-off weekends in NFL history, the Chiefs and Rams will start as slightly favorites on Sunday against the Bengals and 49ers, to try to get to the Super Bowl.
If the national and American conference finals offer as much twists, spectacle and suspense as the semi-finals, that promises! In the meantime, after the emotions experienced by these four teams, which in their own way created the feat, they must quickly not dwell on it because there are two games left to win to succeed Tom Brady’s Buccaneers on the list.
An opportunity that was created by Los Angeles precisely eliminating Tampa Bay (30-27), last Sunday. Take out the defending champion, resisting the pressure, moreover in the face of the « goat(Greatest of All Time), the greatest player of all time arguably retired at 44, makes the Rams favorites against the 49ers. Especially since they will play at home at SoFi Stadium where the Super Bowl will take place on February 13.
Six wins in a row
But the 49ers also managed a resounding performance to reach the last four by eliminating the Green Bay Packers (13-10). Aaron Rodgers and his family fell high against the iron defense of the Californians.
If this duel marks a new chapter in the sporting rivalry between Los Angeles and San Francisco, three months after the Dodgers’ victory against the Giants in baseball (MLB), it will be the second time that the two franchises meet in the play-offs. .
In the regular season, advantage to the 49ers who remain on six victories, the most recent dating back to early January when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo guided his team to a victory (27-24) after overtime at SoFi Stadium. Enough to feed the hope of reaching the grand final for the second time in three years.
In 2020, SF had suffered the law of the Chiefs who had been crowned (31-20) after a last quarter of fire (21-0).
Patrick Mahomes was decisive with two passing touchdowns. And he was again last Sunday against Buffalo with a winning shot in the last seconds of regulation time and another in overtime (42-36).
With their playmaker regaining confidence after a sluggish start to the season, Kansas City will start as favorites against Cincinnati in front of their home crowd, who will attend an American Conference final for the fourth season in a row. A record.
Especially since Mahomes, on the way to leading his team to a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, which only four other quarterbacks have managed, has restored his telepathic agreement with his receivers Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.
« They all trust each other. They have this ability to know where to be, no matter the defenders in front“said their coach Andy Reid this week.
The Chiefs should not forget, however, that the only defeat conceded in their last 12 matches came against these same Bengals (34-31), at the beginning of January. Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow had shone with four passing touchdowns.
The latter, decisive last week against the Tennessee Titans, wants to be confident despite the hostile environment of Arrowhead Stadium. « We expect it to be very noisy, so we will have to take care of our non-verbal communication“, he warned.