Divisional Playoff Recap: The End of the Road?
Divisional Playoff weekend ended with an instant classic, while it could also mark the end for a pair of legendary QBs
I do enjoy the Divisional Playoff round for three reasons. One, it's the last taste of Saturday football in the NFL season. Two, the bye week teams began their playoff road, and three, it's the final step before the home stretch in this destination. The NFL's Elite Eight kicked off in Nashville, as the top-ranked Tennessee Titans hosted the Cincinnati Bengals, but it started of badly for the Titans, as Ryan Tannehill threw an interception seven seconds into the game! The Bengals ended up with a field goal off that turnover, and a second field goal made it 6-0, however, Derrick Henry (who was playing his first game since Halloween) ran it in to the end zone to tie the game, but his two-point attempt fell short. I swear, Mike Vrabel is the only coach who is more obsessed with two-pointers than John Harbaugh is.
The messiness continued from the Titans, with more questionable play calls, and two more bad INTs from Tannehill. The last one ended up being fatal, as it was thrown with 20 seconds left and the game tied at 16. Evan McPherson kicked the game-winning field goal, and in a huge shocker, the Cincinnati Bengals advanced to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1988. The Titans cannot handle being the #1 seed, they have never won a playoff game as the top seed. As for the Bengals, wow! They had been a punchline in the AFC Central/North for decades. Now this team is one win away from reaching the Super Bowl. Let that sink in.
Speaking of things sinking in, a harsh and gritty reality is doing just that in the minds of Green Bay Packers fans (myself included): this could be it. To say that this was a disaster for the Packers would be an understatement. The first drive ended with Aaron Rodgers handing it off to AJ Dillon for a touchdown. That, sadly, is where the positives ended. What followed was questionable play calls, Rodgers making questionable passes, and the special teams being a bigger hot mess than Antonio Brown and Evander Kane put together! As for the defense, the thing that had been the team's biggest flaw for years? It was perfect! But the special teams resulted in a blocked Mason Crosby field goal, a blocked punt for a touchdown that tied the game, and after even more bad play calling, the San Francisco 49ers made it into field goal range, and Robbie Gould's kick ended it--with ten Packers lined up.
The Niners won 13-10 and are off to the NFC Championship, but as for the Packers, again, this could be it. Many believe Rodgers will be gone after this year, and the team has a lot of potential free agents, with Davante Adams being one of them. This could be a devastating offseason for the Packers and their fans, but regarding the Niners, this is their third trip to the Final Four in three years, and both under Jimmy Garoppolo as QB.
As I watched the Packers' season end, I had the same thought that a lot of Packers fans had: it would hurt a lot less if Tom Brady gets eliminated as well. But as Lance Storm once said, "I have to be serious for a moment," as this game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams was potentially disastrous for Brady, as he ended up behind 27-3. Of course, we remember the last time Brady was behind like this in the postseason, and the Bucs started finding the end zone after the Rams began tripping all over themselves, we all said it: "Oh no, not again." Four lost fumbles from the Rams--all resulting in points. The game ended up tied at 27, but Cooper Kupp bailed out his bumbling teammates in the final drive with a clutch reception that put the Rams deep in FG range, where Matt Gay sealed it.
The Rams won 30-27, avoided massive embarrassment, and will host the NFC Championship Game against their division rivals in the 49ers. Now, one has to ask, is this it for Tom Brady? Brady signed a two year deal with the Buccaneers, and I haven't heard any rumblings about him returning for another year. As for the Rams, they actually have a chance to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium, which would mark the second straight year that a team has done that.
Divisional Playoff weekend was main evented by an absolute slugfest, or as Jim Ross would call it, "a slobberknocker." The AFC Championship rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was back and forth; nothing but offense, defense became spectators in this battle. Josh Allen threw for four TDs, all to Gabriel Davis, who had 201 receiving yards. Davis' 4th TD gave the Bills a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds left in regulation, but even that was enough for Patrick Mahomes to drive KC into FG range, where Harrison Butker's 49-yarder forced overtime. KC won the toss and went all the way, with Travis Kelce's touchdown sending the Chiefs to the AFC Championship.
The Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals for the right to head to Super Bowl LVI, but once again, this was a playoff overtime that saw only one possession. Mahomes knows a bit about this; it was in the 2018 AFC Championship that Mahomes lost because he didn't have the ball in overtime, and it does have many football fans wanting a change to the OT rules. Even so, this game was absolutely amazing--clearly the best of this year's playoffs.
The Final Four is all set, and the AFC Championship will kick off the doubleheader on January 30. This is a rematch from Week 17, which actually saw the Bengals defeat the Chiefs with a last second field goal--the only loss for KC in the last three months. The NFC Championship is a divisional battle--the Rams and 49ers are definitely familiar with each other. Historically, the teams only had one prior playoff meeting: the 1989 NFC Championship, which the Niners won, 30-3, during their run to winning Super Bowl XXIV. The Rams have had bad luck with the Niners; they have lost six straight to San Francisco, with their most recent loss taking place on January 9--the final week of this regular season. This will be the last stop before the big game, and it's going to be epic!
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About the author
Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy
Very well written. Keep up the good work!