Ranking the 4 Possible Super Bowl 56 Matchups That Could Come From Conference Championship Sunday

Perhaps the most riveting and exhilarating weekend in NFL postseason history left us with four teams alive in the 2021 playoffs. The Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers all won on the final play in the Divisional Round, keeping their Super Bowl 56 hopes alive and setting up what should hopefully be a thrilling Conference Championship Sunday.

Actually, given the law of averages, perhaps we should expect both games to end in blowouts.

There are only four potential Super Bowl matchups left, and now seems like the perfect time to rank those hypothetical games. For this list, we considered the history — past and modern — between the two involved teams and their current rosters.

Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, the best Super Bowl 56 matchups rank as follows:

4. San Francisco 49ers-Kansas City Chiefs

It feels like just yesterday when Patrick Mahomes led a brilliant fourth-quarter comeback over the 49ers in Super Bowl 54 on Feb. 2, 2020. Over two years later, these legendary franchises could meet again, this time in Los Angeles instead of Miami Gardens, Fla.

Although this isn’t necessarily a bad matchup, we’ve already seen these two teams face off in the Big Game fairly recently. As impressive as these 49ers are, it’s hard to see them stopping Mahomes and the Chiefs’ loaded offense, especially with how well Kansas City has played over the last three months. Then again, that felt like the consensus belief entering Super Bowl 54, and we know how things turned out there.

3. Los Angeles Rams-Kansas City Chiefs

The Rams were a trendy preseason Super Bowl pick, and a win on Sunday will make them the second straight team to compete for a Lombardi Trophy in their home stadium. Technically speaking, though, the AFC representative is the designated home team, meaning the Rams would be the road team at SoFi Stadium in a neutral-site game. Logistics can get confusing, we know.

In November 2018, Mahomes dueled then-Rams quarterback Jared Goff in a shootout on Monday Night Football. However, the Rams traded Goff to the Detroit Lions for Stafford following the 2020 season, meaning Mahomes and the Chiefs could, once again, spend the Super Bowl facing an NFC team playing on its home field with a veteran quarterback in his first season with the organization.

It feels like we’ve been here before. Have we been here before?

2. San Francisco 49ers-Cincinnati Bengals

This is the only potential Super Bowl 56 matchup involving a regular-season rematch. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw two touchdowns, including a game-winning 12-yard score to receiver Brandon Aiyuk in overtime, in a 26-23 victory on Sunday, Dec. 12.

Cincinnati and San Francisco previously faced off in Super Bowl 16 and Super Bowl 23, both of which went to Joe Montana’s 49ers. Older Bengals fans are likely looking for revenge. Younger Bengals fans hadn’t even seen their team win a playoff game before Joe Burrow took down the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Round less than two weeks ago.

There would also be a poetic element if Cincinnati and San Francisco faced off in the Super Bowl. Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, is in his second season as the Bengals’ starting quarterback. When Mahomes, the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2017, defeated the 49ers two years ago, he was in his second season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback.

1. Los Angeles Rams-Cincinnati Bengals

Nothing says an exciting Super Bowl matchup like two high-octane offenses squaring off for the Lombardi Trophy. Stafford, All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp, and the red-hot Odell Beckham would face Burrow, running back Joe Mixon, and the three-headed receiver trio of Ja’Mar Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd with a Lombardi Trophy on the line.

Of course, that likely means we’d be treated to one of those teams winning 14-6 and scoring their lone touchdown on a punt return, but let us dream. We deserve a Super Bowl where both teams would each put up over 30 points, and the game comes down to the final minute.

If that excites you, it’s time to prepare for the Chiefs’ 31-10 victory over the 49ers in two weeks. At least we’ll have a highly censored halftime show to keep us awake.

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