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49ers GM John Lynch, a Torrey Pines HS grad, sees his team again one win from the Super Bowl. Courtesy photo
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Best of the best: Road sweep in championship games?

The NFL playoffs are down to four teams vying to be crowned Super Bowl 57 champion on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. Let’s see how they match up:

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

• Cincinnati Bengals (14-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (15-3), 3:30 p.m., CBS. Line: Chiefs -1.5; Total 47.5

The Bengals are cagey. Not to mention hot. They’ve won 10 in a row and haven’t lost since Halloween in Cleveland.

The Bengals are the defending AFC champs and are a dangerous football team with a Heisman Trophy-winning QB in Joe Burrow.

The Bengals seemingly have it all. They’re deep at wide receiver, have speed, run the ball with power and back it up with a tight defense.

The only weakness is their offense line; Burrow has been sacked more than most QBs this season and line play might have cost Cincy last year’s Super Bowl versus the Rams.

Burrow is their leader and all have bought in. His comment, “Expect the Bengals to be here every year,” rings true.

As for the Chiefs, when you have a smart and talented QB the likes of Patrick Mahomes, you always have a chance and usually will win more than lose.

Mahomes is the front runner for MVP and hasn’t disappointed. The Chiefs got a scare Saturday versus Jacksonville when Mahomes injured his ankle in the first half. He returned to lead KC into Sunday’s AFC championship.

But the Chiefs to me are in and out; the Chargers had them beat twice this year until Brandon Staley forgot how to coach. The Chiefs’ defense is suspect and has big holes. More importantly, the Chiefs allow teams to stay close.

But when you have Superman behind center, it covers a lot of mistakes.

Analysis: I think this will be a great game. The edge goes to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals will win because they have more key players at key positions than the Chiefs.

Burrow has been incredible and spot on. The Bengals know what they have to do and will do it. Pick: CINCINNATI

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

• San Francisco 49ers (15-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (15-3), noon, Fox. Line: Eagles -2.5; Total 45.5

The Eagles started the season at 8-0 and coasted the rest of the way. The Eagles are hard hitting, balanced and have few weaknesses. QB Jalen Hurts has been sensational.

If the Eagles have a weak spot, few teams this season have found it.

No question these are the two best teams in the NFC and, you could argue, the NFL. They added WR AJ Brown with a trade from Tennessee before the season and haven’t missed a beat since.

The Eagles were dominant against the division rival Giants on Saturday, beating them quick and often in a 38-7 victory.

The 49ers are the hottest team in the NFL, winning their 12th in a row on Sunday; their most recent loss came at the hands of Chiefs on Oct. 23.

The 49ers lost QBs Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo this season and had to turn to Brock Purdy, the last player taken in the 2022 NFL draft. They call that pick Mr. Irrelevant, but Purdy has been anything but.

He stepped in and managed the explosive 49ers offense quite nicely. 49ers GM (and Torrey Pines High School grad) John Lynch traded for Christian McCaffrey midseason to add another dimension to Kyle Shanahan’s offense, joining explosive WR Deebo Samuel and one of the league’s best tight ends, George Kittle.

The 49ers defense is as good as I’ve seen in a long time. Reminds me of the great Steelers defense in the ’70s.

Analysis: This is a true toss-up. I favor the 49ers, however, for their defense.

This will be the 49ers’ third NFC Championship in the last four years, with no Super Bowl rings to show for it.

Lynch has put his best team on the field and should be rewarded for his tremendous work. Pick: SAN FRANCISCO

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