Championship Picks: A New Dynasty Invades L.A.

This may again be a familiar sight for Bengals fans on Sunday after Joe Burrow was sacked nine times against Tennessee on Saturday. Nine sacks or 19 points of offense again on Sunday would mean the Bengals might be wiped out by halftime against the Chiefs.

It was an exciting divisional weekend, but it’s fair to ask how much of that drama was necessary. Did the Titans need to go for two points in a 6-6 game in the second quarter? That cost them a win. Did the Packers have to completely melt down on special teams? That cost them a win. Did the Rams have to let Tom Brady tie the game after being up 24 points (!) in the third quarter with a bevy of fumbles? That nearly cost them a win. And did the Bills have to kick it through the end zone to give Patrick Mahomes an extra play, or did they have to guard the sidelines as if the Chiefs had no timeouts when in fact they had two? That unfathomably cost them a win.

As I said, it’s too late now — the Chiefs are the new Patriots. They appear on their way to a third straight Super Bowl and second win in three years after somehow, some kind of sickening way, the Bills handed Kansas City an overtime win Sunday. Now because the Titans conveniently lost, the Chiefs are home for the fourth year in a row in the AFC Championship Game, and it’s fair to wonder if this might be their easiest game yet.

On the NFC side, the Rams look like the team to beat, but there’s one problem — they have been beaten, six straight times in fact, by the 49ers. But now they have a chance to win and stay home for the Super Bowl.

Let’s look at a championship weekend that figures to be good, but won’t top divisional weekend.

Last week: 3-1

Postseason: 5-5

Overall: 28-26 (51.9%)

Cincinnati at Kansas City (-7)

This pick is all about determining whether the Bengals will slip in the back door for a last-second cover. The result of this game is inevitable, no matter how much your little hearts want the little-engine-that-could Bengals — the BENGALS, for crying out loud, because this is the sad state of affairs in the AFC — to win.

On one hand, you could theoretically make the argument that the Chiefs are a bit spent emotionally from that overtime win over the Bills, and that could let the Bengals maybe even get a lead and hang around for a while. But this Chiefs team is a video game, and can turn on the after-burners at any moment. It’s weird that the Chiefs basically stopped playing in the first meeting, letting the Bengals rally for a 34-31 win that seems to have sparked this run. But Kansas City would not make the same mistake this time around.

This is the fourth straight year that the Chiefs’ AFC championship game foe is a team it faced in the regular season, and third time in four years that it’s actually a team they lost to by exactly three points in the road in the regular season. My hunch is that this game lands somewhere between the Chiefs’ 2019 and 2020 wins — not a complete embarrassment like last year, but maybe not as tight (at least in the first half) as their win over the Titans. My feeling is that the time to knock the Chiefs out was last week, and as is their pattern, Buffalo completely choked and blew it. Pick: Chiefs.

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-buying to -3 at -125)

Now the only question is whether the Chiefs will play as a virtual “visitor” in a second straight Super Bowl. It didn’t work out last year for them (thank you, Tom Brady!) and the hope is the Rams could similarly benefit from homefield advantage on football’s biggest stage. Of course, LA is as phony a town as it gets, and the crowd would be at least half Chiefs fans anyway (plus all the KC-loving celebrities that live in LA). Hence, does it even matter who comes out of this game?

The 49ers have won six straight against LA dating back to 2018, the last time the Rams got to the Super Bowl (where they ultimately rolled over to Brady and the Pats). San Francisco, with Jimmy Garoppolo again putting up modest numbers and barely avoiding enough mistakes to win games, is one step away from a rematch with the Chiefs. The Rams still have to feel like they can take some good away from that previous meeting in the final week of the regular season, when they built a 17-0 lead before the Niners stormed back and won in OT. Eventually, a team figures the other out, and the thinking is the Rams, with a veteran quarterback hungry to finally play in a Super Bowl after years of toiling in misery with the woebegone Lions, have the veteran presence and star power to find a way to get it done. Pick: Rams.

Be the first to comment on "Championship Picks: A New Dynasty Invades L.A."

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.