Previewing the NFL’s conference title games

What can the NFL do for an encore?

After all four divisional round games ended on the final play last week, it will be difficult for the conference title games to top them, but they figure to be close.

The Rams host the 49ers and the Chiefs host the Bengals Sunday, and both home teams are slight favorites.

The interesting thing is that both games are rematches of games at the end of the season. The curious thing is that both underdogs won.

The 49ers beat the Rams for the sixth straight time in the final regular season game and the Bengals beat the Chiefs in the second-to-last game.

Three of the four coaches in the game —Andy Reid of the Chiefs, Sean McVay of the Rams and Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers — have lost Super Bowls. Reid has lost two but won one. McVay and Shanahan have yet to win one. Zac Taylor of the Bengals hasn’t been in a Super Bowl.

Shanahan was also the offensive coordinator of the Falcons when they infamously lost to the Patriots despite having a 28-3 lead in the second half.

The Chiefs are aiming for their third trip in a row to the Super Bowl and are playing in their fourth consecutive conference title game.

The Chiefs-Bengals game figures to be a shootout between Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Joe Burrow of the Bengals although Joe Mixon also gives the Bengals a running threat.

The 49ers-Rams game features two quarterbacks in different situations. Jimmy Garoppolo could be playing his last game for the 49ers if they lose because the 49ers may be ready to move on to Trey Lance next year.

Matthew Stafford is in his first year with the Rams after failing to win a playoff game in 12 years in Detroit. Now he is trying to make his first Super Bowl.

The scores in their recent meetings were 27-24 49ers and 34-31 Bengals.

The NFL will be happy to have those scores again.

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