NFL Conference Championship Predictions

Predicting the matchup for Super Bowl LVI

The 2021 NFL Playoffs have been nothing short of spectacular. The four divisional round games were decided with the final plays of the games. A total margin of victory of 15 over four games. Last second wins, heartbreaking losses, and great games all around—football is beautiful. The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers won the NFC Divisionals while the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals won their AFC Divisionals. This week, as they face off against each other to punch their tickets to Super Bowl LVI, we’re giving our takes on who emerges victorious. 


Kevin’s Picks

Rams > 49ers

The Rams have the pieces to get past the 49ers. Despite Jimmy Garoppolo’s 6-0 record against the Rams, I’m choosing Los Angeles to win this week. They have all the weapons they need to win the NFC. The Rams have already been a strong team for the past few years, but one of their weakest links was at the helm of the offense. QB Jared Goff was simply not good enough to elevate his team to a Super Bowl. Enter Matthew Stafford. A player who has incredible arm talent and enough veteran experience to lead this team to the promised land. Unfortunately, the entirety of his career thus far has been played with the Lions. This season, he finally has a complete roster around him. With weapons like Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., Stafford finally has good receivers that can make players with the ball in their hands. The Rams also pride themselves on a strong defense. Aaron Donald is a yearly DPOY candidate, and Von Miller still has a good step for a 32-year-old edge rusher. Behind the line, The Rams have one of the strongest secondaries in the league, headlined by Jalen Ramsey. Their defense will clearly give the 49ers QB Garoppolo nightmares. Garoppolo has yet to throw a touchdown in the postseason and turned the ball over twice. Despite the weapons the 49ers have on offense, such as Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, the Rams defense will keep them contained by making Garoppolo’s job as hard as possible, through high pressing and lots of blitzes

Bengals > Chiefs

Joe Burrow: A man with many names. The Tiger King. Joe Shiesty. Joe Brrrr. The man leading the Bengals offense is cold—his cocky persona crossed with his pure skill creates one of the deadliest combinations a quarterback can have. He can take control of the game, and he has the confidence to do it. This game is slated to be a classic. There’s no question that the Chiefs have talent. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, are all under the lead of Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs even have the seniority record. In the past three seasons, they’ve punched a ticket to the AFC Championship, and here they are again. The Chiefs might have the upper hand in terms of experience and leadership, but that’s not stopping me from picking the underdog. The Bengals have the hot hand right now. Their matchup against the Chiefs earlier this year ended in a shootout asBoth offenses took Jabs at each other with the Bengals coming out on top. Joe Burrow threw for 446 yards and threw for four touchdowns, a seemingly flawless game by the sophomore QB. His inflated numbers were to no one’s surprise as the Chiefs’ biggest weakness is their secondary. Burrow will inevitably try to take advantage of this subpar defense. One of the Bengals’ best weapons is Burrow’s LSU teammate Ja’marr Chase. The receiver has had a historic rookie season and shows no signs of slowing down. Against the Chiefs earlier this season, he hauled in 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Expect both Chase and the Bengals to run numbers up against this lackluster Chiefs defense. 

The Lamar Hunt Trophy, awarded to the AFC Champion. (Au Kirk)

Dan’s Picks

49ers > Rams

The San Francisco 49ers were the underdogs throughout the postseason and have thus far put on a thrilling performance that reminds me of their past Super Bowl run in 2020. If this team can stay healthy, I do not see why they cannot complete the sweep of Los Angeles and go 3-0 against them on the season. Deebo Samuel will have to step up and be the man in this game. With his absurd athleticism and unique skill set, I don’t doubt it. The Rams have yet to find a solution to the studded receiver, as he has even thrown a touchdown over the heads of all Rams defenders nearby in week 18. If the Rams can stall Samuel’s production throughout the game, Los Angeles will go to the Super Bowl. It’s as simple as that. If you stop Samuel, you win the ball game. I don’t think they will. Despite having a star player with the potential to take over the game on offense, the 49ers get most of their work done on the other side of the ball.  Throughout the years, the San Francisco defense has made stops when they needed to, held teams to little points, and made game-changing plays that have resulted in wins. It was the 49ers’ defense that held the Packers to 10 points and secured their spot in the NFC Championship. As long as Jimmy G manages to not throw dimes to the defense, the 49ers will control the game and look forward to a potential redemption of their embarrassing Super Bowl loss two seasons ago.

Chiefs > Bengals

For me, the Chiefs are my lock to win it all, let alone the AFC championship. Mahomes and his Chiefs have been used to the postseason, going all the way to the conference championship four years in a row, winning three out of the four, with the one loss being to Tom Brady in overtime where Mahomes never touched the ball again. Mahomes has elevated Kansas City’s offense, especially in the playoffs where it matters most, leading in total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, and finally points. With this high leveled offense, it seems like the end result is inevitable. Many were skeptical about how the Chiefs offense would hold up against the number one defense in the league, the Buffalo Bills. Fast forward a couple days, and it is clear that no one stops Mahomes. The Bills shouldn’t have left 13 seconds on the board. Cincinnati was ranked 17th in the league when it comes to defending top tier quarterbacks, so I don’t expect things to change. This game is a rematch of week 17’s thriller, where the Bengals edged the Chiefs 34-31. Will Burrow and the Bengals be able to produce these plentiful numbers again, and at the same time stop Mahomes from being Mahomes in the playoffs? Very unlikely. I believed that whoever won between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round would win it all, so I must stand by that. And let me tell you, everytime Mahomes has lost to a team once before, he always bounces back the next meeting. So be careful Cincinnati—the grim reaper is coming.