If you're like us, you've been chain-smoking cigarettes without pause since Saturday afternoon as the NFL conspired to create the perfect football weekend. Underdogs roared on the road and Patrick Mahomes out-dueled Josh Allen in a game for the ages. We managed to post a 3-1 record in the divisional round and would have been perfect if we didn't foolishly trust Ryan Freaking Tannehill — a mistake we will not be making again, thank you very much. This brings us to 6-4 during the postseason and a stellar 132-118 (.528) overall.
CHIEFS (-7) over BENGALS
What we saw on Sunday night was as fine a display as quarterbacking as ever produced. Mahomes' godlike ability to travel great distances in precious little time is abjectly terrifying. We all understand we're watching the most physically gifted thrower to ever fire a spiral and yet there are times when the magnitude of the majesty becomes visceral and newly shocking. That's all a very weighty way to say this: if the Bengals hope to continue to be a team of destiny, they'll face a slightly more difficult challenge than presented by Ryan Tannehill.
Cincinnati has been a great story but there's simply no way to rely on field goals against this Kansas City team. And even then, Harrison Butker is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Evan McPherson. Yes, these two sides played just a few weeks ago and it was Joe Burrow left standing at the end. But I would gently suggest that this line is not a show of disrespect and could be higher, if anything.
It's simply difficult to imagine the visitors delivering a serious scare. It would require a lopsided turnover story or a Mahomes injury or Ja'Marr Chase going for 240 yards and three scores. All of those things could happen. We just wouldn't bank on it. More realistic is the Big Red Machine continuing to roll and a celebratory atmosphere over the final half at Arrowhead. Chiefs 38, Bengals 21
49ERS (+3.5) over RAMS
This postseason has been an exercise in facing demons for the Los Angeles Rams. Matthew Stafford, once again given an opportunity to break his playoff drought, delivered with two excellent performances and was rewarded with his first two playoff wins. The Rams, faced with the possibility of bowing out early yet again after going "all-in" for the fourth season in a row, easily dispatched the Cardinals and bent but did not break against Tom Brady's Buccaneers. Sean McVay, nearly the victim of his own conservative play-calling and horrendous luck once again after going up 27-3 against Tampa Bay, called the perfect play at the perfect time when it all mattered most and was rewarded with his second trip to the NFC Championship Game.
Now it is time to face the biggest demon of them all-- the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners have won their last six games over Los Angeles. They have defied the odds time and time again this postseason. With everything we know about how to succeed in the NFL playoffs, they should not have made it this far. Yet here they are.
This will be San Francisco's third straight postseason game as the underdogs. We've trusted them before and we'll do it again. Kyle Shanahan knows how to attack this Rams defense and the Niners' defense is more than talented enough to make life difficult for Stafford. This feels like the Rams' year and they very well might overcome this final obstacle to return to the Super Bowl, but three and a half points is too much. Four of the last six Niners' wins over Los Angeles came by one score. This game will be a typical NFC West affair: feisty, just a bit crazy, and it will all come down to the final play. Rams 33, Niners 30