The NFL’s Divisional Round games saw some of the best matchups in the NFL this season. At the end of it all, the Packers, Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Bills are left standing. As the dust settles, we take a moment to give a reaction to each game.
The Packers’ Offense Is On Another Level
Entering the first game of the Divisional Round, the narrative was that All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey would shutdown All Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. The opposite was true. Adams and the other Packers’ receivers put on a clinic for route running. Despite several off-target throws from Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ receiving core showed why the front office did not see a need to draft a receiver last offseason.
The Packers’ running backs, too, had a field day against the Rams’ number one ranked defense. All three running backs, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and AJ Dillon received touches. None of averaged less than 4.5 yards per carry.
Aaron Rodgers looked like he was shaking off some bye week rust. He missed some wide open throws that would have made this game a worse experience for the Rams than it was. However, while his throws were off, he read the defense perfectly. This offense hosts the NFC Championship Game next week and will be difficult to stop.
The Buccaneers Need Turnovers to Score Touchdowns
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading up north to Green Bay for said NFC Championship Game. While the cold weather clearly affected the warm-weather Rams, the same may not be true for the Bucs. After all, Tom Brady played in the elements for almost 20 years as a New England Patriot.
That being said, the Buccaneers’ offense showed that it desperately needs its defense to create turnovers in order for them to consistently reach the end zone. In their 30-20 victory over the Saints, the Bucs scored three touchdowns. All of them came off of turnovers. All of their other scoring came on field goals after stalled drives started in their own territory.
In their Week Six matchup, the Bucs intercepted Aaron Rodgers twice, including a pick six. They will need to do that again if they want to defeat the Packers’ top-scoring offense. Will they be able to do so? The Packers’ offense is much better than it was in Week Six, but the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Surly, this NFC Title Game will be one for the ages.
The Chiefs Will Always Be Tough to Beat
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cleveland Browns 22-17 in a game that never really seemed in doubt. The Cleveland Browns are a good, young team that achieved levels unreached in The Land in decades. Unfortunately, the Chiefs have the playoff experience that the Browns do not. That was a key in their victory.
Patrick Mahomes left the game early due to a concussion in a game that drew many questions over missed/called head-to-head penalties. Despite losing their star, the Chiefs were able to hold on and win the game. Chad Henne was adequate in relief, completing 6/8 passes, but throwing an interception that gave the Browns hope.
The Chiefs’ defense, though, rose to the challenge. This is the same exact formula that led the team to a Super Bowl victory last year. The defense, while not great in the regular season, clicked in the postseason, when it matters most. Next week they will face another team unaccustomed to playoff success in the Buffalo Bills. Even if Mahomes is unable to play, the Chiefs will be very hard to beat.
Buffalo Can Play Defense, Too
All season long, the Buffalo Bills have rode their offense to success. In fact, they finished the year with the second-highest scoring offense in the entire NFL. In their matchup with the Ravens, they found themselves pitted against the seventh best offense in terms of scoring. Many felt that this game would be a shootout.
The opposite was true. The Bills scored two touchdowns, and one of them was on a 101-yard interception that was returned for a touchdown. While it is true that Tyler Huntley is not the offensive threat that Lamar Jackson is, it was clear that this Bills defense was in control, no matter who the opposing quarterback was.
Their defense will certainly be put to the test next week against the sixth highest scoring offense in the NFL. Their ability to stop the Chiefs’ high-powered offense will surly determine whether or not they will reach their first Super Bowl in decades. If they get to that point, they will face either the first-ranked or third-ranked scoring offense.
The Bills proved they can win with defense. If they want to bring home a Lombardi, they will almost certainly have to.