The Los Angeles Rams are in the Super Bowl thanks to stunning seasons from the likes of Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald, but it turns out Dr Dre might have had something to do with it too. 

Sunday's Halftime Show will be a parade of hip hop royalty, with Dre set to be joined on stage by Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige. 

A cultural icon in Los Angeles, Dre is delighted to be sharing the spotlight with the hometown team, claiming to have spoken their success into existence. 

"Who else could do this show here in LA, who else could perform the Halftime Show other than these amazing artists that we put together for this thing?" Dre said during the Halftime Show media conference on Thursday. 

"Not only that, I've been manifesting the Rams, since the beginning of the season, I'm just thinking about it every day, I'm meditating on it and I'm like: 'Okay, it would be perfect if we are in the Super Bowl performing and the Rams are in the game as well.'" 

Dre promised surprises in the show, though he would not go into any further detail. 

He and Snoop vowed there would be no wardrobe malfunctions. Dre joked he had dissuaded him and Eminem from any provocative displays during the performance. 

Snoop, though, expects to have the greatest impact during the show. 

Asked what he wants the audience to take from the concert, Snoop replied: "[That] I'm the greatest to ever do it. 

"Somebody gotta say it, Tom Brady wouldn't say it, I'm the GOAT." 

And although Snoop is a fully fledged Pittsburgh Steelers fan, he is backing the Rams to keep the Lombardi Trophy at SoFi Stadium. "I gotta go with LA," he said. 

In a moderated conversation, Dre, Snoop and Mary J all emphasised how much work has gone into the show. 

Asked what will be on her mind once the performance is done, Mary J said: "A drink. A really nice tall drink because I've just been so focused on me and the Super Bowl." 

With Dre describing their act as "f*****g incredible" and Snoop labelling it "magnifico", one of the most anticipated Halftime Shows in Super Bowl history appears set to be one not to forget. 

The Los Angeles Rams' preparations for the Super Bowl have been efficient, but they haven't been without issues, albeit relatively minor ones.

Southern California is in the grip of unusual heat for February and the Rams' matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium could be the hottest Super Bowl ever.

Yet the Rams did not feel the full effect of the heatwave at their base in Thousand Oaks, which was hit by winds of around 22 miles per hour during Wednesday's practice.

With those winds expected to increase in strength, the Rams are moving practice for Thursday, by which time head coach Sean McVay will hope to have his voice back.

"I feel great, I just sound like s***," McVay said in Wednesday's media conference after it became evident he had lost his voice.

"Hopefully, we'll get this voice to come back, but it was like yesterday I was in my office for a minute then I went to talk to some of the coaches and then my voice sounded like this, I'm like 'what the hell happened?' I've got the honey, I've got all the remedies. We'll get this voice back."

Undeterred by his vocal cords failing him, McVay also has little qualms about switching practice to Pasadena to escape the difficult conditions.

"We're going to go practice at the Rose Bowl tomorrow, kind of anticipating the winds," he added. 

"If that's the biggest inconvenience of playing the Super Bowl playing at home that we have to get on a bus, we do that pretty regularly anyways going down to SoFi."

An outwardly optimistic person, McVay's swiftness in brushing off such inconveniences is no surprise, and the speed with which the Rams have installed their Super Bowl gameplan can only have helped his mood.

McVay, according to the pool report, said after practice: "Today kind of represented the finality of it. We can tweak and adjust as we go, but they [the players] did a good job of getting ahead of stuff.

"Guys felt really good. We ran through all the different situations that can come up…and then the next couple of days we'll just be tightening up."

McVay will be able to make any tweaks knowing that he will likely have all three of his top running backs available, with Darrell Henderson Jr. appearing poised to return from a knee ligament injury.

"I think Darrell’s going to go," said McVay. "So, you'll have Cam [Akers], Darrell and Sony [Michel]. You'll be able to see a good, three-back rotation, based on how the game unfolds.

"The situations that arise will dictate which one you're seeing. Like anything else, if we're able to get into a rhythm running it, we're going to go with the hot hand."

McVay might be straining to communicate but, with his running back room returning to full health and the gameplan ready, there's every reason for him to be confident of a career-defining victory that would taste as sweet as his honey remedy.

It can at best be considered a bold move to go into a Super Bowl matchup against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams without a settled group of starters on your offensive line.

But that is the reality the Cincinnati Bengals face, with head coach Zac Taylor still unsure of who his starter at right guard will be when they attempt to claim a first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

The right guard spot has been an issue throughout a season in which the Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow have improbably overcome significant pass protection woes to reach the cusp of an historic triumph.

Rookie Jackson Carman and Hakeem Adeniji rotated at right guard in the Bengals' AFC Championship Game comeback win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Second-round pick Carman has been dealing with a back injury but remains in the mix to line up against the Rams' star defensive lineman Donald in a potentially decisive mismatch in Super Bowl LVI.

"Jackson's progressing well, he's better than he was last week," Taylor said in Wednesday's media conference of Carman's injury. 

"He and Hakeem have really gone back and forth at that guard spot, they've both given us some really good things, they're young players, their best days are ahead of them, we think both those guys have been progressing as we had hoped, so we'll continue to let them play out, see how it shapes out on Sunday."

The Bengals landing on the right player to attempt to slow down Donald, as well as Von Miller and Leonard Floyd, is essential.

Donald's stunt-adjusted pass rush win rate of 63.83 per cent was not only the highest for all defenders with at least 100 one on one matchups, according to Stats Perform data, it was over 10 percentage points higher than that of his nearest challenger, Myles Garrett (53.56).

With the Bengals allowing 51 pressures across their three playoff games, all signs point to a game-wrecking display for Donald.

However, the Bengals may have the ideal quarterback to deal with having Donald in his face. Of quarterbacks with 100 pass attempts under pressure, Burrow's percentage of well-thrown balls delivered of 80.1 was the best in the NFL and over 10 percentage points above the average (70.1).

And Burrow certainly will not get discouraged by any success Donald enjoys against the Bengals, Taylor pointing to his mental toughness as one of his greatest qualities.

"You're going to face a lot of adversity, a lot of difficult moments, it's easy when you're at practice, throwing seven on seven, preseason games, stuff like that," said Taylor.

"But when the season really matters, your mental toughness is going to be challenged, you've got to be thorough with your process, consistent with your process and those are areas where Joe really excels."

Burrow could yet have one of his more underappreciated offensive weapons available on Sunday, with tight end C.J. Uzomah expected to practice on Thursday as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in the AFC Championship Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Considering where he was when he fell on the turf last Sunday to where he is now, [I'm] really optimistic about how it's going," Taylor added. "We'll continue to see him in action these next two days, but optimistic."

There was no shortage of stars on show on Tuesday as the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks overcame the Lakers on the road. A clash of such magnitude, pitting Giannis Antetokounmpo against LeBron James and Anthony Davis would normally be the highlight of a Los Angeles sports week, but this is no ordinary Los Angeles sports week.

Indeed, Giannis, LeBron and Co. were in the position of warm-up act as Los Angeles plays host to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. In a city they and the Los Angeles Dodgers have long since dominated, the Lakers must reconcile themselves with playing second fiddle as the Rams attempt to win their first Super Bowl for the city of Los Angeles.

That the Rams are part of the headline act is not especially surprising given their level of elite talent and the blockbuster trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford made with this end goal in mind. What is more eyebrow-raising is that any fallout from the latest Lakers defeat will quickly be buried for hype surrounding a title game involving the team that arrived at LAX prior to tip-off at Arena.

Cincinnati's is a true tale of the underdog. From 4-11 last year with their number one overall pick Joe Burrow tearing his knee ligaments in 2020, to a 10-7 campaign and consistent Houdini acts under pressure from Burrow in postseason wins over the Las Vegas Raiders, top-seeded Tennessee Titans and three-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals are the team nobody saw coming.

And, going into Sunday's meeting with the Rams, they are the team few expect to pull off a shock again despite their evident proclivity for upsetting the odds.

Antetokounmpo's sublime 44-point effort, in which he silenced a Lakers crowd trying to will a largely uninspiring team to a comeback that only briefly seemed possible, was almost routine. If Burrow and this team from the Midwest thwart a stacked Rams squad built to deliver immediate Super Bowl glory, the response will be anything but.

There is no expectation on the shoulders of the Bengals, whose young quarterback appears completely undaunted by the prospect of playing on the grandest stage in American sport for a team that prior to this season had not won a playoff game this century.

"At the end of the day, your mindset stays the same. When I played in the state championship in high school, it feels the same as playing in the Super Bowl does now," Burrow said in Tuesday's media conference. "At that moment in my life that was the biggest game I had ever played in, so everything kind of feels the same, I've just had more reps in those situations so I'm probably even a little calmer.

"Honestly we've never even spoken about the playoff drought once this whole season. We have a really young team that doesn't really understand the historical significance of what we're doing. We're just out there playing football and getting better while we're doing it."

Burrow is not feeling the weight of history, but he is appreciative of the significance of getting a Bengals franchise that has too often been a laughingstock to the cusp of a first Lombardi Trophy.

He added: "Being from Ohio and being the quarterback of the Bengals is something that I'm really proud of. Growing up there really weren't a lot of Bengals fans in high school and in the middle school, it was all Steelers and Browns and there were a few Bengals fans here and there that kind of got made fun of a little bit, so I think as a team we're excited to put a product on the field that the fans are proud of and kind of gives them bragging rights they haven't had that in a little while, so I'm excited to give that to them."

Free of expectation and free of pressure, the Bengals' position as underdogs could well be to their advantage. Regardless of whether they complete a remarkable run with the ultimate triumph on Sunday, with Burrow under center the Bengals look destined to compete for headline billing for years to come.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr has lavished praise on teammate Cooper Kupp ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, and believes his fellow receiver "deserves" to win at SoFi Stadium.

Beckham Jr joined the Rams in November on a one-year contract after being released by the Cleveland Browns, and is now just one game away from winning his first Super Bowl after the Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

Kupp led the NFL this season in the key receiver statistics with 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns, and has 386 receiving yards so far in the postseason, which is the third all-time most in playoffs history before the Super Bowl.

During media duties for the NFL ahead of the Super Bowl, Beckham Jr laid out how impressed he has been with the 28-year-old, stating his belief that Kupp deserves to win on Sunday.

"Coming here and being with Coop has just been really amazing for me," he said, "You come in somewhere where they have their guy and you watch and you witness greatness between him and [Matthew] Stafford as far as the attention to detail, the relationship that they have.

"That's everything you want from a QB and a receiver, details, the way he actually runs routes, the football knowledge.

"I've learned so much from him, he's a great guy, obviously an incredible talent and I'm just happy that I made the right choice [to join the Rams]. Now I just feel like he deserves this trophy and he deserves a ring and I just want to help them finish the job."

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford also gave his thoughts on the game, insisting that despite having stars such as himself, Von Miller, Kupp and Beckham Jr, they have reached the Super Bowl because of the efforts of the entire team.

"As far as a superstar heavy team, I think that's what the outside world probably thinks of us, but for us we just come in to work every single day and we've got nothing but guys who want to work hard."

Stafford also reserved praise for Kupp and Beckham Jr, adding: "Getting to work with Cooper and Odell has been a blast. Obviously I've gotten a full year with Cooper and his greatness and his ability to affect the game both with the football [and] without the football... such a great teammate, such a great friend and football player.

"Then with Odell he's come in since day one, his ability to grasp what we're asking him to do mid-season with no OTAs, no training camp, it was really impressive from my standpoint what he's been able to grasp, go out there and execute and play. He's been huge for us in the playoffs.

"It's been a blast working with those guys, really everybody on this team. I pinch myself sometimes thinking about the opportunity I'm getting to do, getting to play this game, the Super Bowl, with a bunch of great teammates and a bunch of great coaches, just happy for the opportunity." 

Zac Taylor believes Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is "built for this stage" ahead of Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

The Bengals face the Los Angeles Rams in their first Super Bowl in 33 years following a dramatic AFC Championship Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Burrow completed 23 of 38 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns in that game as the Bengals rallied from 21-3 down to win 27-24 in overtime, equalling the biggest comeback win in a Championship Game.

Sunday's game at SoFi Stadium will be Burrow's first taste of the Super Bowl, yet Taylor thinks the 25-year-old will take it in his stride.

"He is built for this stage. He's played for state championships, he's played for national championships, now he's playing for the Super Bowl," the Bengals' head coach told a media conference.

"I think that's been his expectation all along. He's not surprised by it. He rises to these occasions, and we're certainly happy to have him.

"When you believe that your quarterback can take it the distance, it allows everybody just to play that one per cent better because they know on the other side that the trigger man's capable of doing some really special things.

"So I think he's helped us take us to these heights. We have a lot of confidence in him. He's got a lot of confidence in himself. It's fun to be a part of."

Burrow agreed with Taylor's assessment of his confident nature and does not think he will be overawed by the magnitude of Sunday's game.

"I have always been a confident player," Burrow said.

"More so now than I have ever been before, because I feel like I've proven to myself that I can play at a high level at this level of football.

"I think as a quarterback, it's really important to exude that confidence, not only in yourself but all of your team-mates.

"The quarterback sets the tone for the culture in the locker room, and so I try to be that kind of player and person for everybody here."

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. The old adage rang true for the victorious defenses on Conference Championship weekend.

A stunning upset pulled off by the Cincinnati Bengals appeared extremely unlikely when they fell 21-3 behind to the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the Chiefs scored just three points across the second half and overtime, with Patrick Mahomes intercepted twice as the Bengals fought back to claim an improbable 27-24 win.

Similarly, the Los Angeles Rams looked to be on the ropes at 17-7 down to the San Francisco 49ers when Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle for a 16-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

Yet the Rams outscored the Niners 13-0 in the fourth, Garoppolo and the San Francisco attack collapsing when the pressure was at its highest.

So how did both the Bengals and the Rams stymie their opponents when it mattered most and punch their tickets to Super Bowl LVI?

The name's Hubbard, Sam Hubbard

Arguably as important to stopping Mahomes through the air was the move the Bengals made to prevent him from doing damage with his legs.

The Bengals deployed defensive end Sam Hubbard as a de-facto spy of Mahomes, protecting against him rolling out and making throws on the move, as he did twice for touchdowns in the first half, or picking up yardage on the ground.

That meant relying on their coverage to hold up while sending only three-man rushes up front. The Bengals rushed three on 23.9 per cent of their defensive snaps, and the results speak for themselves.

Mahomes attempted just six passes on the move and had five scrambles for an average of just one yard per carry. In other words, when there was not a clear option for Mahomes when operating from the pocket, the possibility to escape and extend the play was taken away.

Travis Kelce had 10 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown while Tyreek Hill registered seven catches for 78 yards and a score. However, Hill did not have a catch after the first half and Kelce only had one across that second half and overtime that went for double-digit yardage, the Bengals' ploy of sporadically bracketing both working perfectly.

The combination of Hubbard's deployment in an unfamiliar role and the attention paid to both Kelce and Hill led to the sight of a quarterback who was unstoppable in the Divisional Round running backwards as the pocket collapsed in a vain effort to produce explosive plays that were not there.

Mahomes had done an excellent job down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs of being patient and taking what the defense gave him. In the second half against Cincinnati, the Bengals afforded him no options, and that patience ran out.

Rams give no room to run

The Rams did not need to lure Garoppolo into the bad decision, as Los Angeles knew that, with enough pressure on the much-maligned 49ers quarterback, a mistake is always on the horizon.

Los Angeles only pressured Garoppolo 12 times, but the pass rush came at the ideal time in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter as Aaron Donald and Co. took advantage of a banged-up offensive line when it mattered most.

The level of joy the Rams enjoyed late on was in part a result of their success in defending the run.

With the scoreboard turning rapidly in Los Angeles' favour, San Francisco became one-dimensional having been consistently stymied by the Rams' run defense.

The often dominant 49ers running game was held to 2.5 yards per carry, putting the emphasis on Garoppolo and his O-Line to deliver.

Niners tight end Kittle explained San Francisco's struggles running the ball were down to the Rams employing a new wrinkle in blitzing the A and B gaps when the 49ers went in motion, leading to stacked boxes.

As Kittle put it: "It's hard to run the ball when there are nine guys in the box."

After erasing the Niners' 10-point lead, the Rams' defense could go in attack mode with the ground game shut down and no reason to fear the opposing quarterback.

Given the struggles of the Bengals' offensive line, a similar approach could well be used in the Super Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes accepted responsibility after the Kansas City Chiefs suffered a dramatic 27-24 overtime defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs were heavy favourites coming into Sunday's game at Arrowhead Stadium and quickly built up a 21-3 advantage.

Despite a Bengals response, Kansas City were still 11 points clear when they had the ball on the Cincinnati one-yard line just before half-time.

But they misjudged the clock and failed to add to their advantage, as time expiring after a completed pass to Tyreek Hill meant they could not even kick a field goal.

The Bengals then rallied in the second half to move ahead 24-21 and while the Chiefs were able to get the game to overtime, it was Cincinnati who came out on top.

Just 34 yards, two first downs and an interception from Mahomes came from the first five Kansas City drives in the second half as the offense went completely flat, costing the hosts victory.

"When you're up 21-3 in a game, you can't lose it, and I put that on myself," Mahomes said.

"I was supposed to throw the ball away [in the play before halftime]. I got a little greedy there and tried to give it to Tyreek and get a touchdown, they had two people out there. 

"In the long run of things, it looks bad, but if we had another chance, I'd go for another play again.

"There was a few misreads here and there. There was guys that were open and I didn't hit at the right time or I passed up on something shorter that I wanted to get something deeper down the field. 

"When you're playing a good team and you don't hit what's there and you try to get a little bit more than what's necessary it kind of bites you in the butt, I guess you would say. 

"We were playing so well in the first half and in the second half, we were just off a tick and that's all it takes to lose a football game."

The Chiefs have been to four straight championship games with Mahomes as starter. Their two defeats, in this game and to the New England Patriots in 2018, both came in overtime.

Mahomes added: "A few plays here and there we could have four chances at the Super Bowl.

"You can't let this end what we have here, you have to make sure you continue to battle, continue to get better and try to find ways to win Super Bowls.''

Defeat cost the Chiefs a chance to reach a third straight Super Bowl.

Head coach Andy Reid was reluctant to blame star quarterback Mahomes, who was intercepted by B.J. Hill in the third quarter before throwing another pick to Vonn Bell in OT.

"Patrick's a great player, he was trying to make a play," he said when asked if Mahomes had pressed too much as the Chiefs started to lose their lead.

"I have got to do a better job at giving him things that he can make plays with. I can do a lot better in that area. 

"I could've given him other things to work with, better things, better plays to work with."

Of the Chiefs' mistake at the end of the first half, Reid added: "I was hoping we could get the ball in the end zone.

"I probably gave him the wrong play first of all. To start with, I could've given him something better than that, where the play was open in the end zone, and then we wouldn't have had to go through that. 

"I'll take responsibility for that one."

Mahomes completed 26 of 39 attempts and threw three touchdowns as well as his two picks.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes says that bowing out of the postseason with an overtime loss in the AFC Championship Game cannot be seen as a success.

The Chiefs, competing in their third consecutive AFC Championship Game, went down 30-27 in overtime to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Mahomes was dominant early with three touchdown passes in the first half as they opened up a 21-3 second-quarter lead, finishing the game completing 26 of 39 attempts for 275 yards.

But the Chiefs, champions two years ago and runners-up last season, let slip their lead with Mahomes' overtime pass intercepted by Vonn Bell before Evan McPherson's game-winning field goal.

"The leaders on this team know this isn't our standard," Mahomes said at the post-game news conference. "We want to win the Super Bowl.

"Whenever you taste winning the Super Bowl, anything less than that is not success. It's definitely disappointing.

"Here, with this group of guys that we have, we expect to be in that game and win that game, and anything less than that is not success.

"We'll go back and look at all the things we did well, the adversity we battled through, the team we became at the end of the season and try to learn from the mistakes we made and try to be better next year.''

Mahomes threw 11 touchdown passes in the postseason but the Chiefs were undone in defense against the Bengals, conceding 55 points in their two losses to the AFC champions across the season.

"Unfortunately this is final and that's where we sit now," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said at the post-game news conference.

"Our players are disappointed obviously. They've put a lot of time and effort into this, putting themselves into this position for a Championship Game, I'm proud of that."

The Cincinnati Bengals reached their first Super Bowl since 1989 after a pulsating 27-24 overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

Patrick Mahomes had started in inspired form at Arrowhead Stadium, delivering three touchdown passes to put the Chiefs 21-3 ahead, but the Bengals roared back in stunning fashion to move 24-21 in front.

A Harrison Butker field goal with three seconds left took the game to overtime, yet Evan McPherson ensured a memorable win for the Bengals with a field goal of his own.  

They will face either the Los Angeles Rams or the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVI in a fortnight.

Mahomes wasted little time in stamping his authority on the game, picking out Tyreek Hill in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown within the opening three minutes.

McPherson got the Bengals on the board with a field kick soon after, yet the Chiefs extended their advantage when Mahomes danced his way out of trouble to find Travis Kelce in the corner of the end zone.

The irrepressible Mahomes then found Mercole Hardman wide open for another touchdown, taking his total of pass touchdowns in this postseason to a record-equalling 11.

The Bengals, however, clawed their way back into the game when running back Samaje Perine raced 41 yards into the end zone.

McPherson reduced the deficit with another field goal, before B.J. Hill intercepted an uncharacteristically poor throw from Mahomes to give the Bengals an opportunity to draw level. They duly did courtesy of Ja'Marr Chase from Joe Burrow's lofted throw, with Trent Taylor grabbing the subsequent two-point conversion reception.

After McPherson and Butker exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, the former sent another kick between the sticks following Vonn Bell's interception of Mahomes to seal one of the most remarkable comebacks in Championship Game history.

Joe Burrow heaped praise on the Cincinnati Bengals defense after Vonn Bell's interception set up their dramatic 27-24 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

The Bengals completed the equal biggest comeback win in Championship Game history, rallying from a 21-3 down in the second quarter after Patrick Mahomes' three touchdown passes.

But Cincinnati would not concede again to roar ahead 24-21 until Harrison Butker's field goal with three seconds left to send the game to overtime, as Burrow led the rally offensively, completing 23 of 38 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chiefs won the vital coin flip for overtime, yet Bell's pick on a Mahomes' throw allowed the Bengals to gain possession, with Burrow driving them forward with Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon to set up McPherson's decisive kick.

As a result, the Bengals reached their first Super Bowl since 1989 with Burrow heaping praise on their defense.

"Our defense was unbelievable in the second half," Burrow told CBS after the game. "They had a great plan on defensive side against us. We struggled a little bit. I'm a little speechless right now."

The victory continues Cincinnati's dream postseason run, having overcome the top-seeded Tennessee Titans 19-16 and Las Vegas Raiders 26-19.

Burrow added: "We've been a second-half team all year. You don’t really want to be that way but that's how it's worked out.

"Our defense has really stepped up in the second half and on offense we made plays when we had to. I thought the offensive line was great. We started running the ball, it was a great overall team effort.

"Usually when you lose a coin flip to those guys, you're going home."

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor called his side a "special team" and reiterated that they were not done yet, ahead of the Super Bowl against either the Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers.

"We've got a special team and we've overcome a lot of deficits this year," Taylor said. "We always believe in all three phases. Everyone stepped up and we're not done yet.

"[It's] special, nothing we'll ever forget. We're not done yet. Our fans say 'who dey?', we dem."

The Cincinnati Bengals reached their first Super Bowl since 1989 after a pulsating 27-24 overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

Patrick Mahomes had started in inspired form at Arrowhead Stadium, delivering three touchdown passes to put the Chiefs 21-3 ahead, but the Bengals roared back in stunning fashion to move 24-21 in front.

A Harrison Butker field goal with three seconds left took the game to overtime, yet Evan McPherson ensured a memorable win for the Bengals with a field goal of his own.  

They will face either the Los Angeles Rams or the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVI in a fortnight.

Tyrann Mathieu is expected to play for the Kansas City Chiefs as they look to clinch a place in the Super Bowl for the third successive season.

Mathieu suffered a concussion in the Chiefs' thrilling 42-36 win over the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last Sunday.

But multiple reports suggest the safety will feature for the Chiefs when they host the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

Mathieu led the Chiefs with three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, during the regular season.

His tally of 13 interceptions since joining the Chiefs in 2019 is tied for the second-most among safeties, trailing only Justin Simmons (14) of the Denver Broncos.

With Joe Burrow sacked nine times in the Bengals' win over the Tennessee Titans last week, the Chiefs will hope pressure on the quarterback can lead to turnover opportunities for the likes of Mathieu.

Though he has been accurate under pressure with a well-thrown ball percentage of 81.1, which is the best in the NFL (min. 100 attempts) in those circumstances, Burrow has produced nine pickable passes for his 143 attempts under duress.

His pickable pass percentage of 6.29 under pressure is inferior to the average of 5.53 per cent for quarterbacks with at least 100 such throws.

The Cincinnati Bengals will hope the NFL has no reason to fine Tyreek Hill for celebrating once Sunday's AFC Championship Game with the Kansas City Chiefs is in the books.

Hill was not flagged for flashing the peace sign at a collection of Buffalo Bills defenders as he left them for dead while scoring a 64-yard touchdown in the Chiefs' remarkable 42-36 victory in the Divisional Round last Sunday.

That score marked one of the five lead changes after the two-minute warning in a contest viewed as one of the greatest in the history of the NFL playoffs.

While the officials on the field at the time did not see fit to penalise Hill for taunting, it was revealed on Saturday he was fined over $10,000 by the league for his actions in the act of scoring.

Hill and the Chiefs are heavy favourites to see off the Bengals and progress to a third successive Super Bowl.

However, after holding the Tennessee Titans to 16 points in their Divisional Round triumph, Cincinnati will look to keep Hill in check.

The Bengals did just that in their Week 17 win over the Chiefs, holding him to six catches for 40 yards.

And Cincinnati safety Vonn Bell made it clear earlier this week that the Bengals are ready for the test posed by Kansas City's speed on offense.

"They've got speed. They've got [Mecole] Hardman and they've got [Byron] Pringle, they've got [Hill]," Bell said. "It brings a lot of problems because it stretches you vertically. [Because] you want to take away these vertical threats and everything underneath.

"You've got [Jerick] McKinnon, you got [Clyde Edwards-Helaire] back, you got Travis [Kelce] sitting underneath in the soft of the zone. It was just like, 'Man, everybody's back deep and he's just by himself.' You've got to respect the speed, because it's like a roadrunner, we call them, and they just keep on rolling.

"That's why this team is so dynamic. You got guys like Hardman and [Hill] that can line up anywhere, backfield, anywhere they could do punt returns and they can create explosives everywhere. It's a unique group that they have, and it's a challenge for sure. We rise up to it and we're ready to take it on for sure."


There wasn't much value in being the favourite in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

Three of the four underdogs, the Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, prevailed to progress to Conference Championship weekend.

An incredible overtime win over the Buffalo Bills saw the Kansas City Chiefs, the sole favourite to prevail, join them in moving one game away from the Super Bowl.

Despite a victory in a game many have already labelled as the best playoff game of all time, the Chiefs' position in the Super Bowl odds by Stats Perform's rest-of-season projection has gone down, with the Rams leapfrogging them and taking their spot as the team most likely to lift the Lombardi Trophy on February 13.

So how has a week of action in which the Chiefs were victorious flipped the odds against Kansas City?

Hollywood ending in store for LA?

Rest-of-season or, in this case, postseason projection, projects every future game to give a predicted win percentage for each team across its remaining games. Rather than being a simulator of future games, the projections are calculated by looking at each team's quarterback and QB efficiency versus expected – performance in terms of yards added in expected passing situations – as well as team values for pass protection/pass rush, skill position players/coverage defenders and run blocking/run defense.

For the playoffs, the projection has been used to calculate each team's odds of winning a home game against every postseason team, with those predictions then used to forecast each franchise's chances of reaching and winning the Super Bowl.

Last week, prior to the Divisional games, the Chiefs were given a 27 per cent shot to win the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons, just ahead of the Rams on 26.3 per cent.

Following their respective victories, the Chiefs are viewed as having a 37.84 per cent chance of taking the silverware back to Missouri. The more likely outcome, at least according to ROS, is that the trophy stays at SoFi Stadium with the Rams, whose odds of winning it for only the second time in franchise history have ballooned to 38.21.

It is not a huge margin between the two, but the change at the top is enough to raise eyebrows given how devastating the Chiefs were on offense in defeating the Bills.

But the Rams' position as the new Super Bowl favourite is more a reflection of the potential opponents, rather than a commentary on the merits of the respective teams.

Another nail-biter for the Chiefs

Kansas City already has experience of one nerve-shredding Super Bowl with an NFC West opponent, coming back from 20-10 down in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers two years ago in Super Bowl LIV.

And ROS expects either a meeting with the Rams or a rematch with the Niners to be similarly tense.

The Chiefs would not be considered favourites in a home game with the Rams, Kansas City given just a 45.2 per cent chance to triumph.

That number improves significantly in a matchup with the 49ers, against whom the Chiefs have 58.2 per cent odds of winning a home game.

It is still not an overly decisive margin, however, and pales in comparison to the Rams' prospects of beating the alternative AFC representative, the Bengals.

Cincinnati would have just a 16.8 per cent shot of winning a road game with Los Angeles, and those odds improve to just 19.8 per cent in a home game.

In other words, while a close game likely beckons for the Chiefs regardless of who wins the NFC Championship Game, an upset win for the Bengals in Kansas City would make the Rams or the Niners (72.1 per cent home game, 67.2 per cent away game) clear favourites to win the Super Bowl on the neutral field site at SoFi Stadium.

The Bengals' status as rank outsiders even after making it this far is in part based on the struggles of an offensive line that ranked 25th in Stats Perform's pass protection win rate and allowed nine sacks in the Divisional Round win over the Tennessee Titans.

San Francisco (first), Los Angeles (second) and the Chiefs (15th) each ranked in the top half of the NFL in pass-rush win rate, meaning Cincinnati will be at a clear disadvantage in the trenches in the AFC Championship Game and in a potential Super Bowl matchup.

The 2021 NFL season has been full of surprises, but the numbers clearly point to the Rams playing in a home Super Bowl against the Chiefs. 

So, is everybody ready for Niners-Bengals?

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