NFL PLAYOFFS: THREE UP
MONEY MAC: The Vikings drafted a kicker, Daniel Carlson, in the fifth round in 2018. He lasted two games and was cut. The Bengals drafted a kicker, Evan McPherson, in the fifth round last year. He's heading to the AFC Championship Game with one of the league's cooler nicknames: Money Mac. How does a team overcome a playoff-record-tying nine sacks? One way is to have a kicker who can shrug off a 12-yard sack on third down by kicking a 54-yarder, as McPherson did in the second quarter of Saturday's win over the top-seeded Titans. He also made the walk-off 52-yard game-winner, making him 11 for 13 on field goals of 50 or more yards this season.
LES SNEAD'S 'ALL-IN' RAMS: The Rams and their general manager are a couple of wins at SoFi Stadium from turning one of the gutsiest, "all-in," future-be-darned runs of player acquisitions into one of the most memorable high-stakes gambles in league history. Matthew Stafford, the 33-year-old who cost two first-round picks, a third-rounder and younger former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, is the headliner, of course. But look at what Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. did in Sunday's win. OBJ had 69 yards on six catches, while Miller generated nine pressures, a sack and two forced turnovers in 40 pass rushes against Tom Brady.
ARROWHEAD STADIUM: Patrick Mahomes doesn't get many frequent flyer miles this time of year. The Chiefs quarterback is 8-2 in the postseason. The only time he leaves Arrowhead Stadium is to play in Super Bowls. He's 1-1 in Super Bowls and 7-1 in playoff games at Arrowhead, where he will play yet another AFC Championship Game on Sunday against Cincinnati. Arrowhead, built in 1972, becomes the first stadium to play host to four consecutive conference title games.
NFL PLAYOFFS: THREE DOWN
STEFON DIGGS: Knowing the Bills' enigmatic receiver, this will not be a joyous offseason for him or his relationship with the Bills. Yes, the former Viking has the great fortune of playing alongside QB Josh Allen, who officially stamped his superstar standing in Sunday's 42-36 overtime loss to Mahomes. But Allen essentially ignored Diggs in favor of 22-year-old Gabriel Davis. Davis caught eight balls for 201 yards and a playoff-record four touchdowns. Diggs caught three balls for seven yards and grabbed a two-point conversion.
RYAN TANNEHILL: It's hard to part with a quarterback who just helped you clinch a No. 1 seed, but there's no sense going forward with Tannehill when it's obvious the Titans don't trust him with a playoff game on the line. Tennessee kept the reins on Tannehill when it had the ball and was tied 16-16 in the closing minutes. Tannehill, who missed big throws all game, eventually threw his third pick of the game, handing the Bengals the game.
LAMBEAU FIELD: So much for that pre-game stat about 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo having never started a playoff game in freezing weather before Saturday night's game at Lambeau Field. The 49ers won the game, and a little more of the Lambeau mystique withered away. Going back to the NFC title game loss to the Giants in January 2008, the Packers are 5-5 in their last 10 playoff games at home. In 2010, the season Rodgers won his Super Bowl, the Packers won three road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl.
OVERTIME RULE NEEDS ANOTHER REBOOT
Sunday night's thrilling Bills-Chiefs game had a playoff-record three go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. So, basically, everyone watching — and probably playing and coaching — knew the game would be decided by the coin toss to start overtime. Poor Josh Allen called tails and lost the game. The overtime rules, tweaked a decade ago to eliminate sudden-death field goals on opening drives, needs to be changed again. Allen and the Bills should have been able to answer in OT.
STAT OF THE WEEK: LOOKING BACK
2: Seasons it took for Cincinnati's Joe Burrow to reach a conference title game. He is the first quarterback drafted No. 1 overall to make it this far in his first two seasons.
STAT OF THE WEEK: LOOKING AHEAD
Six: The 49ers' current winning streak against the Rams, who they'll face for a third time this season in Sunday's NFC title game. The streak includes four one-score games, including a 27-24 win at SoFi Stadium in Week 18, and two blowouts, including a 31-10 win at San Francisco earlier this season. The Rams have failed to reach 280 yards of offense in three of the losses, including both losses this season.