We now have four teams left standing in the NFL Playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals will face off to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles will compete for the NFC title. In light of this weekend’s big games, we take a look at the history of the four teams in the conference championships.
San Francisco 49ers (7-10 in Conference Championships)
The 49ers are looked at as one of the most historic franchises in the NFL. As such, they have been to the NFC Championship 17 times in the history of the franchise, the most of the four teams by a considerable margin.
Over the past decade alone, the 49ers have been to five NFC Championships, including a year ago when they faced the Los Angeles Rams but lost a nail-biter. During that span, they made two Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and 2020, losing them both.
Most of the team’s appearances outside of the modern era have come during the 1980s-90s. The 49ers are looking for their first Super Bowl win since 1995 when they beat the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
The Chiefs have been one of the elite teams in the 2010s and 2020s, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. As such, four of their seven appearances have been since Mahomes became the full-time starter in 2018. Before that, they had not made the AFC championship game since 1993. Even despite five playoff berths in the 2010s, they struggled outside of the past five seasons to make it through the wild card and divisional rounds.
Similar to San Francisco, the Chiefs lost a heartbreaker in the conference championship last season. Coincidentally, the loss was to their opponent on Sunday in Cincinnati. They had lost 27-24 on a game-winning field goal in overtime despite entering the game as a seven-point favorite.
Out of the four, the Chiefs are the most recent team to win a Super Bowl, when they won Super Bowl LIV over San Francisco in 2020.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Until their Super Bowl victory in 2018, the Eagles were long known as a team that could not finish the job in the playoffs. Part of the reason was due to a losing streak that the Eagles had in the NFC Championship in the early 2000s. From 2001-2003, the Eagles made three straight conference championships but lost all three, including one to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl in 2003.
The last time they made the conference championship was in 2018 when they thrashed the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7. They went on to win their first Super Bowl this postseason over New England. Ever since then, they had not made it back until Sunday’s meeting with the 49ers.
Although they are one of the more recent teams to win a Super Bowl, their four-year drought is the longest among the four title-contending franchises.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
The Cincinnati Bengals provide an interesting trend in their postseason success. In their 55-year history, they have only made three conference championship appearances. However, they won all three of them but lost all their Super Bowl games afterward. Just last year, they shocked the world with an upset win over the Chiefs in 2022’s AFC Championship. However, they lost the Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Rams.
Before last year, the Bengals had been notorious for their lack of playoff success. They had been carrying a streak of 30 years without a playoff win, including losing five straight wild card games from 2011-15.