2022 NFL conference championship game previews

Chiefs host AFC title game for fourth time; Rams look to stay home
2022 AFC and NFC Championship Game Previews: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Posted at 12:36 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 12:37:35-05

The two teams representing their respective conferences in Super Bowl LVI will be determined by the conclusion of this weekend.

Will it be the Kansas City Chiefs for a third consecutive season in a Super Bowl LIV rematch against the San Francisco 49ers? Or will it be the Los Angeles Rams playing at their home stadium? Are the Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl-bound for the first time since the 1988 season? What about the 49ers, who beat them in their two previous Super Bowl appearances?

Here's what to expect during the AFC and NFC championship games Sunday.

AFC Championship Game

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium | Kansas City, Mo.
3 p.m., CBS

Kansas City is hosting the AFC title game for the fourth straight year.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow runs with football vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Jan. 2, 2022
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow runs the ball during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Cincinnati. The Bengals won 34-31.

The Chiefs have won 11 of their last 12 games after a 3-4 start to the season. Their lone loss during that span was a 34-31 slugfest with the Bengals in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft — threw for 446 yards and four touchdowns in that game. His former college teammate, 2021 first-round pick JaMarr Chase, had 11 receptions for 266 yards and three scores.

Burrow led the Bengals to their first playoff victory in 31 years and then helped Cincinnati knock off the AFC's top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round.

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes throws vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Jan. 2, 2022
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Cincinnati.

But the Chiefs are equally efficient on offense and can score in quick bursts, as last weekend's thrilling finish in the divisional-round playoff win against the Buffalo Bills showcased. So long as quarterback Patrick Mahomes is in the lineup, Kansas City is no easy out, despite a somewhat pedestrian Chiefs defense.

NFC Championship Game

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
SoFi Stadium | Inglewood, Calif.
6:30 p.m., WFLX

San Francisco swept the Rams in the regular season, but Los Angeles is hosting the conference championship game for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president by virtue of laying claim to the NFC West Division crown.

San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuels celebrates after TD at Los Angeles Rams, Jan. 9, 2022
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) celebrates after his touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

The Rams traveled cross-country and knocked off Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last weekend's divisional playoff game. The Bucs became the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf. But the Rams could very well do it again.

SoFi Stadium is the home of Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13. The game can be seen on WPTV.

If the Rams intend to stay home in February, they'll have to figure out the 49ers, who shellacked Los Angeles 31-10 in November and then survived a 27-24 overtime scare at SoFi Stadium in the final weekend of the regular season.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is 4-1 as a starter in the postseason (his lone loss coming to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV), but he has yet to throw for a touchdown through two playoff games thus far. Can the 49ers ground game withstand the NFL's sixth-ranked rushing defense?

Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp makes catch against San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward, Jan. 9, 2022
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp catches a pass against San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward during the second half of a game Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

The Rams are in win-now mode, making some splashy late-season acquisitions (linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.) and playing their best football down the stretch (7-1 since December), despite nearly blowing a large lead at Tampa Bay.

After spending his first 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, former No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford seems to have gotten his wish. If he can lead Los Angeles back to the Super Bowl for the second time in four years, Stafford will have quickly endeared himself to Rams fans hoping to finish the job at home.