The divisional round of the playoffs certainly settled a few narratives on who the best teams in the NFL were after an exciting weekend of games. Ultimately, the league has its four best teams playing on conference championship weekend.
The Philadelphia Eagles rolled to victory over the New York Giants, showing they are still one of the best teams in the league and the Super Bowl contender they’ve been all season. Philadelphia will host the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, who won a showdown against the Dallas Cowboys to set the conference up with a matchup of its top two seeds.
The AFC Championship Game has a highly anticipated rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals in what is sure to be one of the best games of the season. Patrick Mahomes had a gutty performance on a high ankle sprain for the Chiefs to get past the Jacksonville Jaguars while Joe Burrow led the Bengals to a dominant victory over the Buffalo Bills — in snowy Buffalo.
Conference championship weekend has the makings of an all timer. Here’s an early primer of what’s coming up next week.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
NFC Championship Game
(2) San Francisco 49ers at (1) Philadelphia Eagles
When: Sunday, January 29, 3 pm ET
TV: Fox | Stream: fuboTV
Line: Eagles -2, O/U 45.5
The 49ers and Eagles don’t have a rich playoff history, with Philadelphia and San Francisco meeting only one time in the postseason (49ers won 14-0 in 1996 NFC Wild Card round). Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy — both of the starting quarterbacks in the game — weren’t even born yet. Hurts (24 years, 175 days) vs. Purdy (23 years, 33 days) will be the youngest matchup in NFC Championship Game history.
Purdy is the fourth quarterback drafted in the sixth round or later (or undrafted) to reach a conference championship in his first season as a starter. The 49ers are playing in their 18th conference championship game, the most in NFL history (and third in the last four years). They are the only NFC team never to play in Philadelphia in a playoff game on the road.
Hurts is the youngest quarterback in Eagles history to reach the conference championship game, breaking Donovan McNabb’s record from 2001. This is the Eagles’ seventh conference championship game appearance since 2000, the most in the NFC and trailing only the New England Patriots for the most in the NFL. The Eagles are searching for their fourth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history and second in the last six seasons.
The Eagles finished with the top offensive in the NFC in points and yards per game. The 49ers finished with the top defense in the NFC in points and yards per game. This game will certainly pin the age-old offense vs. defense debate, setting the stage for a thriller in Philadelphia.
AFC Championship Game
(4) Cincinnati Bengals at (1) Kansas City Chiefs
When: Sunday, January 29, 6:30 pm ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+
Line: Chiefs -1.5, O/U 47.5
A rematch of last year’s AFC title game against the Chiefs and Bengals is already worth the hype. Add Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow to the mix and NFL fans could be set to embrace another classic, especially with Mahomes playing through a high-ankle sprain.
Mahomes has never beaten the Bengals since Burrow has become the starting quarterback, going 0-3 against him over the last two seasons — including last year’s AFC Championship Game which Kansas City blew a 21-10 second quarter lead and lost 27-24 in overtime. Each of those meetings have been decided by exactly three points, with Cincinnati outscoring Kansas City 26-6 in the fourth quarter and overtime in those games.
Mahomes will join Tom Brady (eight straight) and Ken Stabler (five straight) as the only quarterbacks to start five straight conference championship games as the Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to play five consecutive conference championship games at home. He’s also the only quarterback to lead a team to five conference championship games before turning 30. The Chiefs are looking to become just the ninth team to reach the Super Bowl three times in a four-year span.
The Bengals are seeking to reach the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons, trying to become the first team since seeding began in 1975 to reach back-to-back Super Bowls without having a top-two seed in either season. Joe Burrow can join Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to start two Super Bowls in their first three seasons. Burrow is 5-1 in his playoff career and 3-0 on the road (the Bengals never won a postseason road game prior to Burrow). Cincinnati has never lost an AFC Championship Game, going 3-0 in franchise history.
Mahomes vs. Burrow IV should be a classic, regardless of how the Chiefs quarterback plays with his high ankle sprain.