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AFC, NFC championship game predictions: Looks like a Super shootout

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) escapes the pocket against the Rams in 2018.
Could quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) lead the Chiefs to their third consecutive Super Bowl? Last time the Chiefs and Rams played, in 2018, L.A. won 54-51.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)
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Los Angeles Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines the NFL conference championship games Sunday. Lines are according to FanDuel. Last week’s record: 1-3 (Playoffs overall: 7-3). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer had predicted, the record against the spread last week also was 1-3 (Overall: 7-3).

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AFC: No. 4 Cincinnati at No. 2 Kansas City

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill runs through the secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs could use the blazing speed of wide receiver Tyreek Hill against the Cincinnati Bengals.
(Associated Press)

When: Sunday, noon PT, CBS. Line: Chiefs by 7.

How the Bengals can win: Get more productivity out of Joe Mixon. The Chiefs aren’t great at stopping the run, and there’s going to be so much emphasis on slowing Bengals receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Force turnovers by whatever means necessary.

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How the Chiefs can win: Get up early and get that Sea of Red crowd into the game. Take advantage of Cincinnati’s subpar offensive line. Let Patrick Mahomes go to work, and use that team speed — especially Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman — to keep the Bengals on their heels.

Farmer’s pick: The Chiefs have a chance to reach the Super Bowl for the third year in a row, and they have the quarterback to do it. Good as the Bengals are, they still feel a year away. CHIEFS 31, BENGALS 24

With the AFC and NFC championship games set for Sunday, let’s take a look at the four potential Super Bowl LVI matchups that could be heading to SoFi Stadium.

Jan. 26, 2022

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NFC: No. 6 San Francisco at No. 4 Rams

Rams running back Sony Michel runs in open field.
The Rams need to get more work for running back Sony Michel, who had just one carry in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs last week.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Fox. Line: Rams by 3½.

How the 49ers can win: Pound the ball on the ground to play keep-away from the Rams’ offense. Play that physical brand of hit-them-in-the-mouth football. Whether it’s out of the backfield or lining him up at receiver, get Deebo Samuel the ball.

How the Rams can win: Exploit the fact that 49ers left tackle Trent Williams is hurt. Get to Jimmy Garoppolo and force him into mistakes. Get Cam Akers in space, and do a better job of mixing Sony Michel into the running game. Matthew Stafford needs to play loose but not careless.

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Farmer’s pick: Take the better quarterback, especially when he’s at home. That’s Stafford. The Rams will get to Garoppolo and that will pave their path to the Super Bowl. RAMS 28, 49ERS 21

The pressure is on coach Sean McVay, the “Wonder Boy” who hasn’t lifted many eyebrows since his Super Bowl loss to Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

Jan. 27, 2022

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