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  • Writer's pictureJosh Jenkins

Championship Weekend

Surely nothing can top last week's NFL mayhem?

Three road underdogs went into hostile environments and escaped with the W thanks to walk-off, game-winning field goals.

Then, as if those three games did not provide us with enough action, Kansas City and the Bills decided to play one of the great games in all-time NFL history.

IF Championship Weekend can live up to Divisional Weekend then we are in for some kinda treat!

The upstart, ultra-talented Cincinnati Bengals travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs for a place in the Super Bowl as the AFC representative.

Then, a few hours later on a Monday morning here in Oz, two NFC West rivals square off in Inglewood, California to be the NFC participant in the Super Bowl - which will also be held in Los Angeles.

Time to thrash out who's who in the zoo... and who will be surviving and advancing.

Joe Burrow

CINCINNATI @ KANSAS CITY - Monday 7am, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

It's a thrill to even see these Bengals in this position.

Eight years ago I named my dog AJ - after former Bengals wideout A.J. Green. He's my 2nd favourite player ever (Calvin Johnson #1) so I've always followed Green and, to a lesser extent, Cincinnati closely.

Then in late 2019, I snuck off for a day trip to Cincinnati and saw the then hapless Bengals live. I even met my guy AJ.

Then, two of my beloved - and National Champion - LSU Tigers ended up changing stripes but remaining Tigers when they both landed in the deep southwest of Ohio.

Joe Burrow became a Bengal at pick 1, then the following season Ja'Marr Chase joined him after being selected at pick 5. That was more than enough for me to officially climb aboard.

I'm a Bengal and I'm sticking with my guys. The Burrow-Chase connection is a thing of beauty and will be my go-to when seeking out NFL highlights.

But, for all the romance of the Bengals rapid rise to the top, a formidable nemesis awaits.

A team hosting its fourth consecutive AFC Championship game - the high-octane, high-powered, all-conquering Kansas City Chiefs.

Counted out on more than once occasion last week, KC found a way behind an all-time talented quarterback and some incredibly rare playmaking receiving threats.

Cincy will enter this with belief having defeated KC just a few weeks ago - albeit at Paul Brown Stadium, as opposed to this week's venue.

In that clash, KC went up 14-0, 21-7, and 28-14 before Burrow's Bengals rose from the dead.

The ball game saw the Bengals outscore KC 17-3 in the second half to sneak off with a 34-31 win.

I can see more high scoring in this one, even if the upstart Bengals may be tight to begin with. Burrow is Baby Brady - he oozes confidence, belief and an ability to make any play that needs to be made.

Chase torched KC for 266 yards and 3 scores on 11 receptions last time. He will need to re-produce more magic to help his squad cause another upset and sent them to Los Angeles on February 14.

Like last week, my head says pick the big dogs but my heart says stick with the underdogs.

So I'm sticking with my mighty Bengals.

Who Dey!


Deebo Samuel

SAN FRANCISCO @ LOS ANGELES RAMS - Monday 10:30am, SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California

How do we break this game down?

LA are at home, that obviously counts for something. However, San Fran rolled into SoFI inside three weeks ago and knocked off the Rams in overtime to clinch themselves a place in these playoffs.

Not only did the Niners win that clash with LA, they've won the past six - some emphatically.

In November the Niners handed out a 31-10 drubbing in Santa Clara.

Since October 2019, the six-game streak has the Niners scoring 159 points and the Rams well behind on 108. It's a damning collection of games, especially when you log onto Sportsbet and see that the Rams are heavily favoured to snap that streak.

The Rams have moved past champions Tampa and Arizona this post-season, displaying venom in all three phases of the game. Matthew Stafford has made some of the plays the Rams brought him to LA to make, including setting up the game-winning FG last week against the Bucs.

Aaron Donald and Von Miller were destructive last week and have combined for 37 pressures in the past fortnight. We know Jalen Ramsey is an elite corner despite him giving up a big day to Mike Evans.

He will likely cover Deebo Samuel whenever he's lined up wide as well as George Kittle on occasion.

Samuel and Kittle present opponents with the most unique challenges, perhaps across the entire NFL. Samuel is a weapon as a runner and receiver and when he combines the two, he's almost impossible to contain. His 3rd down carry last week broke the Packers backs and displayed exactly why this San Fran squad is in the position it is.

Defensively, Nick Bosa is a machine. He's healthy and he's ripping up D lines.

Contain Samuel and Kittle, slow the power run game and get to Jimmy G and the Rams can snap this skid. But, the Niners are rolling like few other teams - their momentum can carry them a long way, just as we saw in the 2020 season when these Niners were a few plays away from Super Bowl glory.

I rolled with them v Dallas, I thought they'd get ousted by Green Bay but all that game did was make me believe.

With Deebo, George, Bosa, Shanahan and the Niners I roll.



THIS SEASON: 173/282

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