After recapping the amazing Divisional Round we were able to witness, I had to follow it up with some thoughts on the final four. The stage is set for Championship Sunday. I will talk about each team, what I like and what I don’t like. You know, all the typical bullshit.
I am a fanboy for the Bengals for one reason and one reason only, Joe Fucking Burrow. I only watched 4 games of him at LSU because I hate college sports. It was enough for me to know how much I enjoyed him. He was the reason I tuned in. I would see his highlights and I would hear his one liners. The dude is the perfect blend of confidence and arrogance. I love it. He was asked after the win against the Titans about being a Cinderella team…
“No, I’m tired of the underdog narrative,” Burrow responded. “We’re a really, really good team. We’re here to make noise and teams are going to have to pay attention to us. We’re, like I said, a really good team with really good players and coaches and we’re coming for it all.”
Prior to this season, I was one of the many screaming it would be foolish to draft Ja’marr Chase when Cinci’s star QB got demolished last year, cutting his rookie season short. Here they are in the conference championship with Chase having arguably the best rookie season ever for a receiver, catching 81 balls for 1,455 yards and 13 TDs.
Burrow led the league in completion percentage while leading the league in air yards per attempt. Clearly, he and Chase aren’t missing a beat. This offense is one of the most fun and dynamic across the league thanks to a bevy of weapons including Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon.
Going back to the offensive line, Burrow led the regular season in sacks taken with 51. He was sacked 9 more times against the Titans last week. Most of it comes down to a poor offensive line. Another part of that comes down to Burrow just giving absolutely no fucks about getting hit. There are times he holds the ball too long or scrambles trying to go for the home run. Again, the definition of moxie. Some things never change. Ironically, this is what I wrote after the Natty for LSU…
“I watched four LSU games this season – Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson. Last night was the only game where Burrow looked tested. Every game that I watched, he had his way with opposing defenses from start to finish. You saw Clemson make him stress and think in the beginning of that game. They were pressuring him with blitzes from every angle imaginable and once he had a few drives to get a feel for the defense, he exploded with another massive game.
Last night we found out about his ability to take a punch off the chin and respond. We found out more about his mental toughness, not that we questioned it before. Not only did LSU find themselves in a hole on the scoreboard, Burrow took hits including one before half that left him injured.
He came out in the second half and his first throw was awful and of course first instinct is “oh shit, that’s not good.” After that bad throw, he dialed in again and the onslaught continued. He is probably in some pain today, but it doesn’t matter because he knows that size 10.5 ring is coming his way. That is the exclamation point on the best season of any player in college football history.”
Consider this a love affair for me with Joe Burrow. The second Tom Brady went out, I knew who I would be cheering for next.
4 for 4 on Conference Championships for Patrick Mahomes. To say they have the experience advantage this weekend would be an understatement.
All the noise in the beginning of the season for the struggling Chiefs was all bullshit. I called then and I am here to say that I told you so. When you have a QB like Mahomes, it eventually clicks. The defense of course stopped looking like an absolute dumpster fire and the Chiefs started winning.
Mahomes has been on fire with his best playoff run to date from an individual standpoint. He is averaging 391 yards with 8 TDs to 1 INT while completing 75% of his passes.
It’s a new year, but the same story. This team is a well oiled machine. Good luck stopping them.
The one thing I love about the Chiefs is the creativity that Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy constantly pull with Mahomes as the quarterback. Then you have Mahomes himself who is creative in his own right. Before Travis Kelce caught the pass to eventually set up the game tying FG, you can hear Mahomes yelling to his TE during the cadence to “do it.” Prior to the play, Kelce came up to him and said if the Bills came out in the same look, he would go up the middle to split the defenders. Sure enough, they did and so did Kelce.
Again, just a well oiled machine that you can never count out. After all, we are talking about the same Super Bowl Champion Chiefs who came back from large deficits in all three of their playoff games during the run.
Unlocked is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Rams. The offense was unlocked. Cooper Kupp was unlocked. Matthew Stafford was unlocked.
Sean McVay’s offense has been so damn limited because of Jared Goff. Getting Matthew Stafford was the right call for the vet and the Rams. They gave up the farm to get him, but that is no surprise. The Rams have been trying to go all in to finally capture the Lombardi for multiple seasons now. In addition to Stafford, they also made splashes for Odell Beckham and Von Miller. We will see if this is the year the gamble finally pays off.
You have a passing offense that is potent as they come and a defensive front that will bury you. Putting Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd on a defense with Aaron Donald is just filthy.
I hope you all realize this could be Jimmy G’s second Super Bowl appearance in 3 years.
Once they move on to Trey Lance, I think this roster goes from scrappy underdog to heavy favorite. The 49ers are fun to watch because they have chess pieces on both sides of the ball. Deebo Samuel is arguably the best offensive player in football that is not a QB. George Kittle is top tier at TE. Then on defense, that front line just dominates people. They know how to get after the QB led by Nick Bosa. The pass rusher that NEVER gets enough love. Of course, all year it was TJ Watt and Myles Garrett. Those were the two pass rushers getting mentioned. Meanwhile, Bosa had 15.5 sacks and 49 pressures. He added 2.5 more this playoff run thus far.
Kyle Shanahan’s conservative play calling has buried him before, but it also keeps him in games too. His teams are disciplined and limit their mistakes because of it. Quite honestly, it is fun to watch. I genuinely love watching the 49ers because of it. If you don’t want opponents offenses to score, keep them off the field and control the clock. When you’re limited at QB, that’s exactly what they should do. Play the game by leaning into defense and special teams.
Matchup Ranks – Closest to Potential Blowout
- Rams v Chiefs
Do we remember the 54-51 contest these two had a few seasons back? I keep coming back to that thinking how great would a potential barn burner of that magnitude be for a Super Bowl. I would absolutely love watching those two just air it out.
- Bengals v 49ers
Joe Burrow getting in would be glorious. Granted, Burrow would be running for his life. However, I think being limited at QB will ultimately keep the Bengals in the game.
- Chiefs v 49ers
I feel like round 2 could potentially get ugly, but maybe not. Last time we saw this matchup, Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan had a field day displaying their creativity. I remember texting one of my buddies first drive of the game nearly orgasming about it.
- Rams v Bengals
This is honestly the one and only matchup I want absolutely zero part of. I think it could end horribly for the Bengals. Joe Burrow would be running for his life more so than the 49ers. That plus being against a high powered offense just feels like a concoction of disaster.
Chiefs def. Bengals
As much as I want to see Burrow in the SB, I think it all comes crashing down here. My gut is telling me this ends up being a somewhat close but controlled 2 score affair.
49ers def. Rams
Shanahan completes the sweep of the Rams. The run beats the pass. We ultimately get the 49ers / Chiefs rematch.
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