Chiefs receive Bengals, Rams take on 49ers; Super Bowl trip at stake

February 7, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is pressured by Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Jan 28 (Reuters) – The Kansas City Chiefs face the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend in a clash of elite quarterbacks, while the Los Angeles Rams hope to turn their fortunes against the San Francisco 49ers in two games that will determine the Super Bowl matchup.

The Chiefs’ attack, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, looked virtually unstoppable on reaching a fourth straight AFC Championship Game and they could have another high-scoring affair on Sunday.

The Bengals, who appear in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1989 and are two wins away from a first Super Bowl triumph, know all too well the challenge ahead.

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“Obviously it’s a really good team and if you want to do the things we want to do, that’s the team you have to beat every year,” said Bengal quarterback Joe Burrow. “The AFC has gone through them four years in a row.”

Sunday’s game will be played a month after their regular season game, where Burrows defeated Mahomes and the Bengals overcame three 14-point deficits en route to a 34-31 win that was won with a last second field goal.

After the loss, which ended Kansas City’s eight-game winning streak, Mahomes shared a brief on-field exchange with Burrows in which he said, “See you in the playoffs.”

Mahomes, who led his team to a Super Bowl win in February 2020 before losing last year’s NFL Championship game, struggled early in the season as defenses adapted to his style. He has long since recovered, thanks in large part to his teammates.

“I saw the persistence – and the championship swagger, you might say – of the team we have,” said Mahomes.

“Guys didn’t hang their heads. They just wanted to get better. Every day they came out to practice, and we learned how to perform against the looks we got.”

In Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, the Rams have a chance to become only the second team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did last year.

But first, the Rams must beat the visiting 49ers, who have beaten them six times in a row, including a thrilling comeback win to beat their ticket to the playoffs in the regular season finale three weeks ago.

Sean McVay, 3-7 against the 49ers since he took over as Rams head coach, blasted every suggestion the division rival got into his head.

“What I do have is respect for these guys. They’ve done a great job,” said McVay.

“Both teams are very well known. There are good schedules, there are great players. That’s why we’re in this position. Let’s roll it out and see who plays the best in that three-and-a-half hour window and give themselves the chance to continue.”

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Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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