Will the Bengals and 49ers spring a surprise in the Conference Championship games? We take a look at the NFL betting ahead of the two huge Sunday night games.
Bengals @ Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs and their head coach, Andy Reid, are both on an historic run. The former is playing in a championship final for the fourth time in a row at home, while the latter has helped two teams to four consecutive championship finals.
The Chiefs have won two of the previous three games, including last year and the year before, meaning they could reach the Super Bowl for the third time in a row. This season’s surprise team, the Cincinnati Bengals, may be blocking it, but they face an uphill task as only one team has beaten Kansas since October 24th. However, that team is the Bengals themselves.
At the end of the expected shootout on January 2nd, Cincinnati took the final shot, winning 34-31. It makes a big difference that the Arrowhead Stadium is hosting this time. It’s also worth noting that the previous meeting just weeks ago was influenced by some controversial refereeing decisions in favour of the Bengals.
But the biggest problem is that although the Bengals can lean on an amazing number of young talents, the offensive line is likely to struggle against such fierce opposition. The best example of this was last week when the sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow, already among the best in the league, swallowed nine sacks.
Joe Burrow has 1,654 Pass yards to Ja’Marr Chase, including playoffs, the most by a QB-receiver duo, both 25 or younger, entering a Conference Championship.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2022
After a difficult start, when the defense was just an ornament on the field and the attacks were countless, they secured themselves on both sides of the ball. There’s no lack of confidence, as you can see in tricky games, and that was only enhanced by last week’s victory over the Bills, one of their biggest victories of all time.
Despite such a memorable win, it would still be unexpected if they could stop the Chiefs. The only issue for the Chiefs could be the possible absence of safety Tyrann Mathieu because of a concussion, which would be a huge miss and open the door to rookie catcher Ja’Marr Chase to make his mark on the game.
49ers @ Rams
The San Francisco 49ers’ performance in the Divisional Round was even bigger than the Cincinnati Bengals. They shocked the Packers and will need a similar upset here, but before everyone thinks the Los Angeles Rams will have it all their own way, let’s note that the 49ers have won the last six meetings between the pair.
Still, it would be a huge surprise if this series continued, at least if the team’s offensive play and, in particular, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance doesn’t improve significantly. The 49ers’ march is almost entirely due to wide-back Deebo Samuel and his one-man arsenal – and the Packers’ scandalously weak special teams unit.
Garoppolo has passed for 303 yards and no TDs in his two playoff games this season, while giving up two Touchdowns. If he produces a similar performance on Sunday, he’s guaranteed his team won’t be able to continue its run against the Rams.
Jimmy Garoppolo has seven interceptions when pressured this season.
That is tied with Derek Carr, Patrick Mahomes and Trevor Lawrence for most in the NFL.
Four of those seven picks have come in Garoppolo's last 3 games. pic.twitter.com/iEhCuNuFpL
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2022
However, quarterback Matthew Safford, who is assisted by the league’s top receiver Cooper Kupp, and Odell Backham Jr, who is in his second year of recovery since leaving Cleveland, have shown certain limitations since their electrifying start to the season.
With the Rams’ offense and 49ers defenders at odds with two excellent teams, this will be the more interesting matchup, but the game-deciding factor could be a good Rams defense and a weak 49ers offensive line, because it’s hard to imagine Garoppolo improving against a team that includes Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey.