By BRIEN TRIMBACH & JACKSON RADER
Between Saturday 1/21 and Sunday 1/22, the NFL divisional games were played. The Philadelphia Eagles faced off against the New York Giants, resulting in a 31-point trounce by the Eagles, 38-7. The Buffalo Bills competed against the Cincinnati Bengals, ending with a 27-10 victory for the Bengals. The Jacksonville Jaguars looked to upset the AFC one-seed Kansas City Chiefs. The game played out to a 27-20 victory for KC. The last game on Sunday night was the San Francisco 49ers versus the Dallas Cowboys. A close game the whole way, the 49ers came out on top with a 19-12 final score.
This now sets the stage for the upcoming week of Conference Championship games where the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles play the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC. The winners of these two games will decide the competitors for Super Bowl 57.
After interviewing several students and staff, a clear favorite victor emerged for the Super Bowl matchup. A vast majority are predicting the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Cincinnati Bengals for the title match.
Although a fierce competitor in the NFL postseason in previous years, there was not a prediction that included the Kansas City Chiefs. This may be for good reason. Within the divisional game against the Jaguars, Pro Bowl quarterback Patrick Mahomes sustained a high ankle sprain. Masuk teacher Mr. Cercone believes, “The Bengals will upset the Chiefs because of Mahomes’ injury. A high ankle sprain is a lot to deal with.”
The Bengals are a clear favorite to win the AFC, due to the strength of the team offensively and defensively. While they struggle with a mediocre offensive line resulting in a lack of protection for quarterback Joe Burrow, they make up for it in their depth at receiver with names such as Jamarr Chase and Tyler Boyd as well as their ability to force incompletions on defense with corner Eli Apple and defensive end Sam Hubbard.
On the NFC side, the more pronounced favorite to win is the San Francisco 49ers. Although some still believe in the Philadelphia Eagles, the 49ers are the greater favorite due to their immensely deep and skilled team. They possess many weapons on the offensive side of the ball, including a deep receiving core in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, dual-threat running backs like Christian McCaffrey, and a young, mobile quarterback in rookie Brock Purdy. On the opposite side of the ball, they have powerful pass rushers and lockdown defensive backs which leaves little room to succeed for the opposing offense.
The lesser favorite of the two NFC teams is the Eagles. Even though they came into the playoffs as the No.1 seed, their stellar record is not enough to sway fan opinion. On top of their MVP-eligible quarterback, Jalen Hurts, one-two-punch receivers such as A.J Brown, and an adaptable defense, many still do not believe they have what it takes.
With the stage set for the championship round, teams make last-minute adjustments and fans make last-minute plans to spectate the games. Tune in on Sunday 1/29 at 3:00 PM on Fox to watch the 49ers take on the Eagles, and stick around until 6:30 PM on CBS to watch the Bengals and Chiefs face off. The outcome of these two games will decide the matchup for Superbowl 57.