NFL Playoffs Conference Championship Sunday Is Finally Here – Opinion

Here at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState, we have finally sufficiently recovered from last weekend’s quartet of NFL playoff insanity to compose some thoughts on the season’s penultimate weekend finally arriving. The AFC finds the Cincinnati Bengals — yes, really, the Bengals — traveling to Kansas City for a match with the Chiefs. The NFC also has the San Francisco 49ers heading down I-5 with the Los Angeles Rams.

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs — Chiefs fans have become almost blasé when it comes to Patrick Mahomes working his magic in-between State Farm commercial shoots. They’ve also become inured against having domestic violence specialists on the roster. Kansas City believes having everyone’s grandfather Andy Reid as coach somehow makes signing head cases such as Damon Arnette a sign of rehabilitative power and not willful blindness to a felonious character.

Cincinnatians are so used to being stuck in mediocrity, they didn’t realize that the NFL season continues for at least four to five weeks beyond December’s last weekend. The idea that there are football players with silly tiger stripes on their city’s flag is something they still struggle to grasp. TheyThe Super Bowl is only one game away for heads. The Bengals have disproved the notion that you can never go home again, as Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase have picked up right where they left off at LSU.

Kansas City does indeed have all of the experience needed for the playoffs. They will host the AFC championship for the fourth year in succession. They are clearly the favorites. But also, yes, they are facing a team whose inexperience along these lines has led it to forget it’s not even supposed to be here, let alone win anything. There’s no reason to believe Cincinnati is going to choke now.

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams — In recent years, the Rams are a far better team than any of the 49ers. The past several years have seen San Francisco win over Los Angeles. However, this NFC championship game is what really matters.

They beat teams such as Cowboys, Packers and Packers to reach this point. After dismissing the Cardinals in a stalemate, the Rams then jumped out to a significant lead over the Buccaneers. Then, after Tom Brady did what appears to be his last magic trick, they won the game.

San Francisco’s glory days of Joe Montana to Jerry Rice and pregame banquets featuring linen tablecloths in Candlestick Park’s parking lot are long gone. The team’s long slide into irrelevance before Jim Harbaugh revived the franchise and then skedaddled off to Michigan dramatically transformed its fan base from San Francisco upper crust old money to Bloods wannabes. 49ers fans now look like Raiders fan.

SoCal syndrome is what Rams fans have become. It was so far gone that two generations of potential fans were lost. The team has an active supporter base of baby boomers, who are able to recall the first time it played in Los Angeles. There is also a small group who rely on the geography of their home for sports affiliation. Also, given the team’s location, 70 percent or so of the local populace is blissfully unaware of what that funky futuristic big building is across the road from where the Lakers used to play.

Both teams have skilled performers who aren’t afraid of the pressure. Deebo Samuel in San Francisco and George Kittle in Los Angeles. Los Angeles boasts Cooper Kupp as well as Odell Beckham, who has been rejuvenated. Matthew Stafford is also with the Rams, who seems to have regained some of his pre-season enthusiasm. The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo, whose primary skill isn’t so much winning a game as not doing stupid stuff to lose one. The 49ers also have injury concerns on both the offensive and defensive lines, which isn’t a good thing, especially when you have the ball and the other team has Aaron Donald.

One personal note. A personal note. Yes, I would love for them to win. When you’ve gone through a month such as I have, things such as sports get firmly put into perspective. Still, I’d greatly prefer the team I root for winning. It’d make a nice diversion from everything, which is the reason we have sports even if professional sports have spent the past few years trying to be woker than woke.

Have fun with the games.

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