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NFL’s Championship games have a lot to live up to after ‘best weekend ever seen’
Last weekend’s divisional games provided four classic matches and left four teams in the hunt for Super Bowl glory.
The Super Bowl line-up will be decided this weekend as the finely-poised NFL Championship games follow arguably the greatest weekend of playoff football.
All four divisional games ended in incredible walk-off wins, starting with the Tennessee Titans – number one seeds in the AFC – losing at home to the young, exciting Cincinnati Bengals.
The Green Bay Packers – top seed in the NFC – also fell as the San Francisco 49ers triumphed at a snowy Lambeau Field, before Sunday witnessed more thrilling encounters.
The Los Angeles Rams held off a a late Tom Brady-inspired surge to knock out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, last year’s Super Bowl champions, before the final divisional playoff went to overtime.
The Kansas City Chiefs eventually edged past the Buffalo Bills in a game for the ages, setting up a thrilling Sunday slate that starts with the Patrick Mahomes-led favourites hosting the Bengals in the AFC Championship game.
The 49ers then head to a Rams side looking to win the NFC Championship and book a return to their SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI, with New York Giants great Osi Umenyiora excited by what is in store.
“Well, there’s just no way it’s going to be as good (as last weekend), right?” the two-time Super Bowl champion told the PA news agency.
“I mean, the past weekend that we saw was literally the best weekend that we’ve ever seen in terms of a divisional round play-offs.
“I think you’re going to see two outstanding teams on each side play against each other. I think it’s going to be a battle.
“You look at San Francisco, you look at LA, these guys know each other very, very well. They’re in the same division.
“You look at Kansas City, you look at Cincinnati… I mean, Kansas City just got destroyed by Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, gave up 500, 600 yards in total offence.
“It was ridiculous, so they’re going to be looking for redemption there.
“You can expect some fantastic games. These are the four best teams in football right now.”
The bookmakers predict the Chiefs will take on the Rams for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, as does former NFL cornerback Jason Bell.
Bell added: “You had the quarterbacks last week that did it all. They were the highlights. I mean, they didn’t make a mistake.
“You know, if you protect (Bengals QB) Joe Burrow, you might be able to get a little bit of that because those two guys – Mahomes and Burrow – can go at it.
“But on the other side in the NFC, we get to see a match-up for the NFL purists, which is all about the schematics.
“These two coaches know each other. Let’s see what they do. Let’s see who’s got the better plan, so that’s going to be very interesting.
“Osi has been in the situation, it’s on the line, man.
“Players, they’re not leaving anything on the field. This is different and that’s what makes it so exciting.
“When it comes down to the final four, I mean, people elevate their game to another level because it’s over after this. You don’t have tomorrow.”