We’re just one step away from Super Bowl LVI.
It’s conference championship weekend, and by Sunday’s end, this year’s two Super Bowl participants will be decided.
In the AFC championship game, several former BYU ties — and former Cougar assistant Andy Reid — will be trying to make a Super Bowl appearance with the Kansas City Chiefs.
There is more Utah intrigue in the NFC championship, where former Cougar (Fred Warner) and former Ute (Mitch Wishnowsky) could play a role for the San Francisco 49ers as they face the Los Angeles Rams and three former Utah players — safeties Eric Weddle and Terrell Burgess, and kicker Matt Gay.
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: 1 p.m. MST
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium
What to watch for: Cincinnati hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since the 1988 season, and second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and third-year coach Zac Taylor will be leading the charge to end that drought. The Bengals still, though, have yet to win a Super Bowl.
Kansas City, meanwhile, won the championship two years ago and is trying to make its third straight Super Bowl. Again, MVP caliber quarterback Patrick Mahomes and longtime coach Andy Reid lead the way.
Utah impact: Former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen is the only Utah tie likely to have much of an impact in this game. He tied for the team lead with nine tackles in Kansas City’s win last week, and he has made some big plays in the postseason in past seasons.
Utah ties on Bengals roster
- Jalen Davis, CB, Utah State.
- Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, Timpview High (practice squad).
Utah ties on Chiefs roster
- Zayne Anderson, S, BYU and Stansbury High.
- Matt Bushman, TE, BYU (practice squad).
- Marcus Kemp, WR, Layton High.
- Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU.
- Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State (practice squad).
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
- Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. MST
- Venue: SoFi Stadium
- TV: Fox
What to watch for: These NFC West rivals know each other well, though it’s San Francisco who’s had the edge in recent years.
The 49ers have won six straight over Los Angeles, and that includes a Week 18 victory when San Francisco rallied from down 17 to force overtime before winning 27-24. The 49ers needed that win just to make the playoffs, and now they are one win away from their second Super Bowl appearance in three years.
The Rams, meanwhile, are trying to make their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2018 season.
The quarterbacks — San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo and Los Angeles’ Matthew Stafford — will be in the spotlight and face heavy pressure against two stout defensive fronts.
Utah impact: Former Utah safety Eric Weddle, who’s been elevated from practice squad to active roster for Los Angeles the past two weeks after coming back from retirement, has his chance to make a Super Bowl for the first time in his career. So, too, do former Utes and Rams teammates Matt Gay and Terrell Burgess.
Former BYU linebacker Fred Warner and former Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky are trying to get back after losing in the Super Bowl two years ago.
Any one of these players could come up with a big play Sunday — last week, Gay hit the game-winner to beat Tampa Bay — though Warner and Weddle will likely have the most opportunities.
Utah ties on 49ers roster
- Fred Warner, LB, BYU.
- Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah.
Utah ties on Rams roster
- Terrell Burgess, S, Utah.
- Matt Gay, K, Utah and Orem High.
- Eric Weddle, S, Utah (practice squad).
- Jonah Williams, DE, Weber State (practice squad).