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OutKick 360 discussed the two championship games slated for Sunday as the AFC and NFC host the final playoff contest ahead of Feb. 13’s Super Bowl.
The panel covered both matchups between the Chiefs and Bengals in the AFC Championship and Rams versus the 49ers in the NFC.
“The first thing that comes to mind is how Cincinnati won the first matchup. Can they do it again?” asked Jonathan Hutton, recounting the Week 17 matchup where Cincy took the win, 34-31, in a tight contest.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow exhibited the requisite arm and offense to keep up with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes — throwing for 446 passing yards and relying on his chemistry with Ja’Marr Chase (11 receptions, 266 yards, three touchdowns).
“We certainly know what Playoff Mahomes is like, and that’s a bar that Burrow’s gonna have to reach.”
Cincinnati proved they can muster the points on offense; however, after Kansas City outlasted a shootout against the Buffalo Bills, the Bengals and head coach Zac Taylor will need to implement an improved attack to best the Chiefs in a rematch.
“They’ve got a coach that’s willing to gamble, gotta do that against Kansas City win or lose, and he’ll be crushed if he does something crazy in the red zone instead of taking points, but you just can’t take three points.”
“A field goal is a loss against the Chiefs,” added Hutton.
When you get down inside the 15, inside the 10, can’t settle for field goals,” said OK360’s Chad Withrow. “You gotta go for it.”
“You don’t get it, you pin them deep, you give them the length of the field to go offensively, but you’ve gotta go for fourth downs when you get in the red zone.”
Previewing the NFC’s championship matchup between the Rams and 49ers, Hutton stated that San Francisco’s winning recipe has been embedded in their confidence on gamedays, partnered with a formidable running attack that helped them overcome the Rams in Week 18.
“In practice, they run the same offense that the Rams are running. They’re running what [Sean] McVay does. [Kyle] Shanahan can script it out perfectly for his defense, and I think that’s a big reason why they’ve had so much success.”
Watch the panel’s full discussion on key takeaways and predictions for Sunday’s championship games.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela