The divisional round produced a Sunday conference championship with undoubtedly the four best teams in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers all rank above the rest of the NFL and may or may not be entrenched.
The Chiefs, Bengals and 49ers repeated as participants in the conference championship. Since 1990, after the 1993 and 2012 seasons, three of the final four teams have returned from the previous year only twice. The Chiefs have played in his fifth consecutive AFC Championship game, and the 49ers have reached his second weekend from the last three in his four years. The Bengals are one week away from a possible Super Bowl title. A relative rookie, the Eagles have his 24-year-old MVP candidate at quarterback and his 5-year-old Lombardi in his trophy case.
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The quartet boasts several arguments to stay strong. Their quarterbacks are 27 (Patrick Mahomes), 26 (Joe Burrow), 24 (Jaylen Hurts) and 23 (Brock Purdy). The Bengals and Eagles will soon face the ramifications of a costly contract extension, but the Chiefs have already solved that problem with a well-structured deal with Mahomes, and the 49ers are no strangers to Purdy’s rookie out of nowhere. years away. They can afford to give presumed Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa a massive payday ahead.
The Bengals are at the beginning of their competitive cycle, even though they are the defending AFC champions, and have yet to face the attrition challenges inherent in NFL success. , has proven adept at managing inevitable change. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman retooled around a new coach (Nick Sirianni) and a new quarterback after winning the Super Bowl in February 2018. Chiefs trade Tyreek Hill more Efficient on offense, young on defense. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan has lost his top assistants on both sides of the ball for several years in a row and hasn’t lost a single step this season despite two serious injuries to his quarterbacks.
Of course, the four franchises face challengers. In the AFC, Buffalo his Bills, injured after a limp exit on Sunday, will start the challenge behind Josh his Allen. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a strong base centered around Trevor Lawrence and could easily find their way to the playoffs in the AFC South. Los Angeles If his Chargers’ new offensive coordinator can capitalize on Justin Herbert’s talents, they’ll be legit.
But any AFC contender has to surpass Mahomes and Barrow, the evolution of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. They outperform all other quarterbacks — including Allen, Hurts and all others.
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It will be easier for the Eagles and 49ers to keep control of NFC. Micah Parsons gives the Dallas Cowboys a chance to ruin their opponent’s day every time they step onto the field. But the Green Bay Packers are fading in the twilight of Aaron Rodgers (or perhaps Jordan Love’s announcement), and the New York Giants are underperforming even after coach Brian Daball’s surprising turnaround .
The Eagles and 49ers are separated by infrastructure. Siriani was a talented young coach and Roseman showed a special ability to build strength and talent. Purdy may or may not be the long-term answer for San Francisco. If not, Shanahan still produces quarterbacks like MacGyver built the bomb. Give him a fridge magnet, some twine, a 7th round pick, and expect fireworks.
Whatever the future holds, this weekend will present the best matchup possible at each conference.The Eagles will be Purdy’s biggest challenge yet. On Sunday, the Cowboys pass rush swallowed Purdy and was exhausted late. Likewise, the Hearts have never seen a defense quite like the highly offensive unit of 49ers coordinator Demeko Ryans, who threatened to take over the game against San Francisco cornerback CeeDee Lamb. Will Hearts take advantage of his matchup against AJ Brown and Devonta Smith?
The AFC Championship Game features two great quarterbacks that no one wants to bet on. Anyone who supports Barrow can surely answer this question in the affirmative. Will Mahomes lose to the same team in his fourth straight streak, with a sore ankle or not?Anyone who favors Mahomes is one of the most memorable college postseason runs of recent times. He must be willing to go against a 5-1 quarterback in the NFL playoffs following .
These questions will be resolved this weekend. They could surface again next year, and they could surface again and again in the years to come.