Art by Leah Bae
The 2021-22 NFL Divisional Round wrapped up Sunday night in show-stopping, heart-racing fashion, as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills 42-36 in an overtime thriller.
The earlier three games all came down to walk-off field goals. On Saturday, the Cincinnati Bengals strolled into Nashville and came out with a 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans. A few hours later, the Green Bay Packers saw their postseason hopes wither away in a 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
In Sunday morning’s contest, the Los Angeles Rams cruised to a 27-3 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the middle of the third quarter. What followed was an all-too-familiar sight for football fans nationwide, as seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady pulled his team level at 27-27 with 42 seconds remaining. The Rams responded to the comeback, however, and mustered up a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Conference Championships will take place Sunday, Jan. 30. The Bengals and Chiefs will square off at Arrowhead in the day’s earlier game, while the 49ers travel to Sofi Stadium in the afternoon.
Digital Editor Karl Winter clinched first place in this season’s NFL Picks standings, despite an abysmal 1-3 performance over the weekend. Karl is now a back-to-back NFL Picks champion, having hoisted the imaginary trophy alongside former Sports Editor Paxton Ritchey during the 2020-21 season. The two of them tied at 181-87.
Staff writer Alec Matulka leapt into second place and staff writer Austin LeDe’ closed the gap at the bottom of the table, as both of them went 3-1. Creative Director Ali Levens and staff writer Joe Doonan languished with 1-3 showings.
Cincinnati Bengals (12-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-5) (Sunday, Jan. 30 at 12 p.m., PST)
“The Chiefs D-Line got after Josh Allen last week, which doesn’t bode well for the Bengals, who have a worse O-Line and a less mobile QB than the Bills. I love Joe-Sheisty and the Bengals, but I think their story ends here. The Chiefs look like the Chiefs of old after last week’s performance, where the Bills took them to their limit.” — Joe
“Very good game here, but I still think the Bengals are one year away, and [Patrick] Mahomes is used to the pressure of this game. I think the experience of the Chiefs will prevail against Joe Burrow and their high powered offense.” — Austin
“The scoreboard may read ‘Bengals versus Chiefs,’ but don’t let that fool you. There are bigger things at stake here than the fate of these two teams. This is dreamers versus realists. Waffles for breakfast every morning versus ‘eating healthy.’ Aspiring screenwriter versus corporate job. This is Joe Burrow versus Goliath. ‘Grow up,’ they’ll tell you, ‘Live in the real world. You know who should win this game.’ Hogwash. I pity those people. Never grow up, folks. Keep living the dream. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” — Alec
“My heart wants the Bengals to win, but logistically, the Chiefs are more Super Bowl worthy. I am fine taking this L if it means cute little tigers get to go to the Super Bowl for the first time.” — Ali
“I expect this to be a dogfight, much like the Divisional Round games were. I’d love the Bengals to win, and I think most of America is behind them, and their defense is revamped and underrated. However, I think they’re a year or two away from beating this Chiefs team. If Josh Allen and the depth of the Bills can’t get over the hump and beat Kansas City, there’s no way Cincinnati can.” — Karl
Infographic by Ali Levens
San Francisco 49ers (12-7) at Los Angeles Rams (14-5) (Sunday, Jan. 30 at 12 p.m., PST)
“I should learn my lesson, as I took the Rams over the Niners both times this year and got burned by it. However, if I know one thing about football, it’s that it’s really hard to beat a team three times in one season. For this reason — and my bias for LA teams — I’m taking the Rams.” — Joe
“I have been mocked throughout the whole year for saying the Rams would be in this game, and look where we are now. Unfortunately, this is the last team I wanted to see in this position, as the Niners have owned us the last couple years. But being part of the Ram family, I have to believe we will win this game, as it is pretty hard to beat a team three times in a season. Go Rams!” — Austin
“I don’t really like either of these teams, being a Seahawks fan and all. I hope both teams have a horrible, no good, very bad game and everyone goes home unhappy. And then whoever wins loses to the Bengals in the Super Bowl. That’s my dream.”— Alec
“I am already pretty indecisive and this doesn’t make my job any easier. I get paid to make the big decisions, so ultimately, my pick goes to LA. I will probably lay awake at night in agony if this goes awry. The Rams need to win for my mental health and my mental health only; screw the ring and SoFi.” — Ali
“The Rams will not forget the careless mistakes that cost them in Week 18 against San Francisco, nor the ones that nearly cost them the game against Tampa Bay. The 49ers are scrappy, but inconsistency on offense will hold them back from keeping up with LA.” — Karl
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email Alec Matulka: email@example.com