The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is in the books. There were a lot of storylines this past weekend:
-The Browns kept it closer than many thought in Kansas City.
-Buffalo’s defense comes through in stopping Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
-The Bucs continue to get no respect get the upset win in New Orleans.
-Aaron Rodgers continues to have the best season of his career as he contributes three touchdowns in the win against the Rams.
Kansas City: 22 – Cleveland: 17
This game looked like it would be a blowout as the Chiefs took a 19-3 halftime lead. The Browns could not get much going on offense as they fell behind early.
The Browns did not run the ball much in the first half as they ran for just 18 yards. Kareem Hunt had zero touches in the first half.
In the second half, the Browns went back to establishing the run, which helped get them back in the game. Nick Chubb finished with 64 yards, and Kareem Hunt finished with 32 yards as the Browns ran for 94 yards in the second half.
Patrick Mahomes was sent to the sidelines in the third quarter on a hit by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson and missed the rest of the game.
No worries for Chiefs fans. Chad Henne came to the rescue, and he made the two biggest plays of the game. On a third and 14, Henne scrambled for 13 yards to set up a fourth and one. Henne then hit Tyreek Hill for five yards on the next play to close out the game and end the Browns 2020 season.
The Chiefs will be playing in their straight AFC championship game. This has only happened one other time in NFL history. The Philadelphia Eagles played in three straight NFC Championship games from 2002-04. The common denominator, head coach Andy Reid.
The Chiefs will play the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship game. This will be a rematch from week six when the Chiefs defeated the Bills 26-17 in Buffalo.
Buccaneers: 30 – Saints: 20
The Bucs went to the big easy as 2.5 point underdogs and pulled off the upset, beating the Saints 30-20. The Bucs will play in their first NFC Championship game since their Super Bowl season in 2003.
The big story was the Bucs defense as they picked Drew Brees off three times and forced a fumble. This was the best 60-minute performance we have seen from the Bucs defense all season. The Bucs held the Saints to 294 yards of total offense.
Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was held without a catch for the first time in his NFL career. That spans 77 career games.
Another big difference for the Bucs this game versus their two previous encounters with the Saints was the Bucs’ ability to run the ball. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones ran for 127 yards combined and averaged five yards per carry to keep the Saints defense off-balance and slow down the Saints pass rush.
This was possibly the last game for Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Brees said that he would take some time to reflect on the season, talk with his family, and then decide if he will return for the 2021 season.
The Bucs will play at Green Bay next Sunday for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Early forecast is a 60 percent chance of snow and temperatures in the 20’s.
Packers: 32 – Rams: 18
The Packers have gotten better every single game since their 38-10 loss in Tampa in October.
The Rams came to Green Bay with a top-ranked defense, and that defense was carved up by Aaron Rodger’s passing and the running of Aaron Jones.
Rodgers passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as he continues to make his case for MVP.
Rams defensive linemen Aaron Donald playing with a rib injury had one assist in the loss.
The Packers put up 484 yards of offense against a Rams defense that gave up 282 yards a game during the regular season. The Packers rushed for 188 yards against a defense giving up 91 yards a game on the ground. Aaron Jones led the way with 99 yards on the ground for the Packers.
This will be the fourth NFC championship in seven years for the Packers. It will take a total team effort to beat a Buccaneer team peaking at just the right time.
Bills: 17 – Ravens: 3
This was a 10-3 game until Buffalo defensive back Taron Johnson took a Lamar Jackson interception 101 yards with 41 seconds left in the third quarter for a touchdown to seal the victory and send the Bills to Kansas City with a 17-3 win.
Jackson, last season’s MVP, finished 14/27 for 162 yards. With one interception. The Bills’ defense took away Jackson’s ability to beat them with his legs as Jackson totaled 42 yards on nine carries.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen was 23/37 for 206 yards and a touchdown.
This was a defensive slugfest as both teams went to the locker room tied 3-3 at the half. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker missed two field goals in the first half.
Josh Allen hit Stefan Diggs with a three-yard touchdown pass on the second half’s opening drive, which was all the Bills would need as the Ravens could never get into the end zone.
Lamar Jackson continues to be an above average quarterback but will continue to struggle in big spots until he can consistently stand in the pocket and make big plays with his arm.
The Bills head to Kansas City playing in their first AFC Championship game since 1994. It is shaping up to be a grand championship Sunday.
NFC Championship game Tampa Bay at Green Bay. The Packers are early favorites at 3.5 points—3:05 PM kickoff in Green Bay.
AFC Championship game Buffalo at Kansas City. The Chiefs are early 3.0 point favorites—6:40 PM kickoff in Kansas City.