One more round of games and then it’ll be down to two final teams vying to win a Super Bowl. This year’s crop features three familiar squads—the Bengals, Chiefs, and 49ers were all in the Conference Championship round a year ago—and one team that hasn’t gotten this far since the 2017 season.
If you’re watching the games today—and why wouldn’t you be, really?—please do use this as your open thread for the game. Here’s a quick capsule of each of the matchups.
49ers vs. Eagles, 3 p.m. EST
San Francisco has become a fixture here, having appeared in three of the past four NFC Conference Championship Games. They’re worked around a shaky playoff Jimmy Garoppolo and now Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy with Kyle Shanahan’s wizardry, a terrific supporting cast, and one of the best defenses in football. After losing in lopsided fashion to the Falcons earlier this season, they’ve been on a massive tear and will be a tough out against the Eagles.
The Cowboys had a tough defense to bring to bear against the 49ers, but they didn’t have an explosive offense. The Eagles might not be quite as good at putting the breaks on San Francisco, but they are a far more dangerous group to defend against, with Jalen Hurts emerging as a stellar player and plenty of weapons for him to utilize. Philadelphia also has a tough pass rush they can use to rattle Purdy. I do think the Eagles will win this one, but it’ll likely be extremely close.
Bengals vs. Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST
A rematch of last year’s AFC Conference Championship. The Bengals won this one last year, and it’s quite possible they’ll do so again. Their defense bamboozled Buffalo in the snow, while Joe Burrow and one of the league’s elite casts of pass catching options took care of the rest. When this team is firing on all cylinders, they are extremely difficult to beat, as the Falcons found out earlier this year.
Of course, so are the Chiefs. The question is whether Patrick Mahomes is going to be healthy enough to be Patrick Mahomes or if he’ll be a bit of a shadow of himself with a leg injury. Andy Reid is a brilliant coach, the defense is solid, and Mahomes and a terrific crew are awfully difficult to defend against, and I like their chances of making the Super Bowl yet again. It really will likely come down to what Mahomes is capable of in this one.