These 2022 NFL Playoffs have been littered with upsets. Both No. 1 seeds went one-and-done last weekend, so we’re left with a No. 6 seed (49ers) and a No. 4 seed (Bengals) comprising half of the remaining field. Will the underdog rise up in the AFC Championship Game or NFC Championship Game? Here’s a quick ranking of the upset potential in this Sunday’s matchups.
1. San Francisco 49ers over Los Angeles Rams
Yeah, it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, but when you’ve done it six straight times since 2019, would No. 7 be all that shocking? The 49ers have won the past four games in this series as the underdog and they will be looking to do that again Sunday night. Their path is pretty simple and familiar: Physically dominate the Rams at the line of scrimmage, force Matthew Stafford to make mistakes and limit the big plays from the likes of Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. Jimmy Garoppolo’s thumb injury and left tackle Trent Williams’ balky ankle are two major impediments to an upset, but if the 49ers can get out to an early lead and really lean on their running game, they have a decent shot at extending their ownership of the Rams.
2. Cincinnati Bengals over Kansas City Chiefs
The Bengals have reached this point by getting past a couple of mediocre quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill. Now they will have to stop arguably the best QB in the world in his home stadium, where Patrick Mahomes has won six consecutive playoff games while averaging more than 30 points per. Cincinnati has the offensive skill players to keep up in the likely event this turns into a shootout, but it lacks the talent to really slow Mahomes. On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Chris Jones and company could really wreak havoc on a Bengals O-line that allowed nine sacks last week. Cincinnati’s inability to give Joe Burrow clean pockets consistently will play a huge role in deciding this game.