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NFL Divisional Round Review


Updated:

Jan 25, 2023

We are now at the Divisional Round in this year’s NFL playoffs. After a Super Wildcard Weekend, 8 teams remain, including the number one seeds, who enter the playoffs at this stage. 

So, let’s review what happened and see who will make next week’s conference championships. 

AFC

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars started the season with completely different expectations. For the Chiefs, making the playoffs was the bare minimum requirement, while no one would have even thought that the Jaguars would make the playoffs, let alone the divisional round. But, here we are. These two teams faced each other on Saturday, a day on which Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has never lost a game of football. Could he continue this streak?

It would be the Chiefs who would have the opening score of the game. From their own 17-yard line, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes lead his team down the field and deep into Jaguars territory. Then, from the Jacksonville 8-yard line, Mahomes paired up with reliable target Travis Kelce for the touchdown. 

We then saw the Jaguars give Kansas City a taste of their own medicine. We have on many different occasions a Chiefs drive that very quickly ends in a score. This normally happens immediately after the Chiefs have conceded a touchdown. On the kickoff return, the Jags ran the ball from their endzone to the Kansas City 39-yard line. From them, the Jaguars (mostly running back Travis Etienne) moved the ball down into the Chiefs’ red zone. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence would end this drive by throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chrisitan Kirk, tying the scores 3 minutes after going behind. 

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The Chiefs could not quickly reply to this score. While they did move the ball into Jaguars territory, this drive stalled at the Jaguars’ 32-yard line, which resulted in a successful 50-yard field goal attempt by Chiefs’ quicker Harrison Butker.  

Then, the Chiefs’ dreams of another Super Bowl could have ended. During their next drive, Patrick Mahomes left the game with an ankle injury. Upon further inspection after the game, this was ruled as a High Ankle Sprain. With Mahomes out, backup quarterback Chad Henne took to the field. While he was not Patrick Mahomes, he still had the Chiefs’ offensive talent to help him. Henne was able to move the ball down to the Jaguars one yard line. Then, like Mahomes earlier in the game, he found Kelce for the touchdown pass to increase the lead. 

The absence of Mahomes would have given the Jaguars hope. If they kept the scores close, they could win this game. Just before halftime, their drive ended with a 41-yard field goal. This meant that when halftime came, the Kansas City Chiefs had a 17-10  lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Patrick Mahomes returned at the beginning of the second half. While he was still injured, he was able to play. For much of the third quarter, both offenses struggled to move the ball, with many drives ending in punts. These were probably seen as a victory for the Jaguars, who were kept in this game by the lack of scoring from Kansas City. 

The Chiefs did get the first score of the second half from a 50-yard field goal to give them a 10-point lead just as the fourth quarter began. If the Jags had to score, they would need to score now. On their next drive, the Jags quickly moved the ball down into the Chiefs’ red zone, mostly aided by penalties against the Chiefs’ defense. Then, at the Kansas City 4-yard line, Travis Etienne ran the ball in for a touchdown to keep the Jaguars’ hopes alive. 

Kansas City would quickly reply with a touchdown of their own. The injured Mahomes would throw a 6-yard touchdown to Valdes-Scantling to restore the 10-point advantage. With time running out, the Jaguars would not afford to make any mistakes.

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Unfortunately, that is what they did do. On a drive that took them down to the Chiefs’ 9-yard line, the Jaguars fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by the Chiefs’ defense. Then, on their next drive, Lawrence was intercepted. While they did score a 48-yard field goal near the end of the game, it was not enough. The Kansas City Chiefs had beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20. 

This victory puts Kansas City into their 5 consecutive AFC Championship Game. But, the injury to Patrick Mahomes would be concerning to them. If his ankle is not 100 recovered by next Sunday, he would not be his usual self. This may give their opponent an advantage. But, who would the opponent be?

Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills

These two teams faced each other during week 17 of the regular season. That game however would be remembered for the incident involving Damar Hamlin, who is slowly recovering from his cardiac incident. These two teams will forever be linked by that game. Last week, the Bengals defeated division rivals the Baltimore Ravens, while the Bills held on to defeat the Miami Dolphins. So, who would win in snowy Buffalo?

It was the Bengals who had the opening possession of the game. It would also be the Bengals who would have the opening score of the game from said possession. From the Bills’ 28-yard line, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw the touchdown pass, finding his reliable target, Ja’Marr Chase. 

The Bengals would double their lead soon after. In a drive that was similar to the first one, Burrow and company moved down the field. Then, at the 15-yard line, Burrows found Hayden Hurst for the touchdown. 

The Bills would get on the scoreboard in the middle of the second quarter. After a long and slow-moving drive, the Bills found themselves at the Bengals one yard line. It was then child’s play for Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who ran the ball in for a touchdown. 

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However, the Bengals would reply to this score with a slow-moving drive on their own. Then, from the Bills’ 10-yard line, Burrows found Chase for the touchdown. But, this was reviewed and then ruled out, with the pass being classed as incomplete due to Chase not having secured the ball. This was a third-down attempt, so the Bengals then settled with a 28-yard field goal from kicker Evan McPherson. 

The final Bills drive before halftime ended in a punt, meaning that at halftime, the Cincinnati Bengals had a 17-7 lead over the Buffalo Bills. 

The Bills would open the second half with a score. But not the score they would have wanted. Their drive stalled at the Bengals’ 7-yard line, resulting in a 25-yard field goal from Trevor Bass. 

In reply, Joe Burrow was moving the ball all around the field. The Bengals’ drive found the Bills one yard line. Then, Joe Mixon ran the ball in for the touchdown, to give the Bengals a large convincing lead. This lead would be added to shortly after via another field goal for Cincinnati.

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On the other hand, the Bills could not get anything going on offense. They were turned over on downs in the middle of the fourth quarter. Then, like he appears to be every game, Josh Allen was intercepted and that was that. The Cincinnati Bengals comfortably defeated the Buffalo Bills 27-10.

This sets up a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game, as The Bengals will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs. This game however raises more questions about Buffalo. It was a poor home performance for them, but this may be a long time coming, as even during games in which they won, they struggled. Could this be the beginning of the end of the Buffalo Bills’ period of dominance in the AFC East? 

NFC

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

The New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles have a bitter rivalry. To say that these two teams’ fan bases hate each other would be an understatement, There has even been a semi-famous film about these fans’ rivalry (2009’s Big Fan, starring Patton Oswald). This game has felt like it has been years in the making. The Eagles are the number one seed in the NFC, after having their best season since their Super Bowl victory season. The Giants have also had an amazing season, defying all expectations placed on this team at the beginning of the season. Last week, the Giants won their first playoff game since their last Super Bowl win, after defeating the Minnesota Vikings. But, the Eagles are a completely different, a far better team. Could this fairytale season continue for the Giants, or will it all end at their old enemy?

The game started in the worst possible way for the Giants or the best possible way for the Eagles. On their opening drive, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts demolished the Giants’ defense. For the last few weeks, Hurts has playing with a shoulder injury. From the way he was playing today, it seems that the injury is gone. The Eagles moved the ball down to the Giants’ 16-yard line. Then, Hurts threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Goedart. 

While the Eagles were strong in their offense, the Giants’ offense did not turn up. After last week’s performance in Minnesota, they struggled to move the ball at all against the Eagles. On their opening drive, the Giants went on 4th and 8th. This is nothing new for the Giants, they have been doing this all year. Quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked on that play, giving the Eagles a very strong field position.

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Philadelphia would successfully convert this into another score. Hurts would find DeVonta Smith for a 9-yard touchdown to double the lead. Things would then get even worse for Jones and the Giants. On their next drive, Jones (who has not been intercepted much this year), was intercepted on the edge of Eagles’ territory. Luckily for the Giants, Philadelphia could not convert this into points.

The Eagles would score again however a few drives later. The drive from Hurts took them to the Giants’ 3-yard line. Then, so-called “Giant Killer” Boston Scott scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown. There is a player called Boston and a player called Dallas on the Philadelphia Eagles team. Almost like they really want Giants fans to suffer. Before halftime, the Giants’ suffering would continue, as Hurts ran the ball in for a 5-yard rushing touchdown. 

This meant that at halftime, the Philadelphia Eagles had a 28-0 lead over the New York Giants. This was getting ugly. 

That being said, it would be the Giants who would score the first points in the second half, and their first points of the game. Daniel Jones drove and company drove the ball down to the Eagles’ 8-yard line. Then, running back Matt Brieda scored the 8-yard rushing touchdown. Could a comeback happen?

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No. It would not. 

The Eagles would then score a 30 yard field goal, followed by a 35-yard rushing touchdown by Kenneth Gainwell to put this game to bed.  As the final whistle went, the Philadelphia Eagles had beaten the New York Giants 38-7.

This is the third time this season in which the Eagles had beaten the Giants. In truth, the Giants did not even turn up. They were all still in Minnesota, living off that amazing game they played last week. The offense went nowhere and the defense could not stop the Eagles. However, while this season did not end in the best of ways, as a Giants fan, I am proud of what this team has accomplished. Many questions will be asked in the postseason, including that of the futures of both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, but the team can hold their head high from what this season has brought. 

The Eagles make the NFC Championship game. But who will they face?

Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers

This year’s San Francisco 49ers side has been improved by two players. In the middle of the season, they brought Christian McCaffrey over from Carolina. Then, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was injured and then ruled out for the rest of the season. In came Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy and the rest is history. Purdy has still not lost a game. Could he continue his streak of winning by beating the Dallas Cowboys, thus increasing their streak of not winning a super bowl?

The game did not start great for either side. The first three drives of the game ended in punts. When we finally did see some action, it was not great for the Cowboys. On 3rd and 9 in their own territory, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was intercepted by the 49ers’ defense, giving them an excellent field position to get the opening score of the game. San Francisco did end this drive with points, but not the amount they would have wanted. Purdy drove the ball down to the 8-yard line. But the drive stalled there and ended with a 26-yard field goal. 

After their last drive ended with an early interception, the Cowboys wanted to get something from their next drive. They did, as Prescott drove the ball down to the 49ers’ 4-yard line. Then, he paired up with Dalton Schultz for the 4-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick was missed, however. 

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The next San Francisco drive stalled and resulted in another field goal, this time from 47 yards. This tied the scores. The Cowboys’ offense used the momentum gained from their previous scoring drive to move the ball down to the 49ers’ Redzone. but then, Prescott was intercepted again. 

The subsequent drive ended in another 49ers field goal, which meant that at halftime, the San Francisco 49ers had a 9-6 lead over the Dallas Cowboys. 

The Cowboys would have the first score of the second half. This came from another drive that found the 49ers’ red zone. However, this drive stalled at the 7-yard line, resulting in a 25-yard field goal to again tie the scores. 

The San Francisco offense would then wake up. Brock Purdy and the company would drive the ball deep into the Cowboys’ red zone. It would then be Christian McCaffrey who would score the 2-yard rushing touchdown to give the 49ers the lead. 

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Dallas tried to reply to this, but their following drive stalled and resulted in a 43-yard field goal. The same thing happened with the next San Francisco drive. Another stalled drive, another field goal. It turns out, this field goal was the last points of the game.

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 19-12. With this, they advance to the NFC Championship game, with the hopes of returning to the Super bowl. For the Dallas Cowboys, it is another season without a title. The unwanted streak goes on.

The Playoff Picture

Next week is the Conference Championships.

In the AFC, The Cincinnati Bengals visit the Kansas City Chiefs.

In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles host the San Francisco 49ers.

The winners of those games will face each other in the Super Bowl. 

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