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NFL Divisional Round Review: Kickers star in crazy weekend

Chiefs QB Pat Mahomes

The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs was much better than the Wildcard Round, as this was the weekend of the kickers! Here’s a recap of the crazy weekend in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

Correct pick: Cincinnati Bengals +3.5
Final score: Cincinnati Bengals 19-16 Tennessee Titans

In a game that was back and forth, Joe Burrow and the Bengals found a way to win. Burrow passed for 348 total yards against a tough Titans defense that did manage to intercept one pass and totaled nine sacks against a terrible Cincinnati offensive line. Jamarr Chase became the first rookie to have 100+ receiving yards in each of his first two playoff games. The Burrow and Chase connection should be noted as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs next week.

The storyline heading into the game was the return of Derrick Henry, who did not look like himself. After saying Henry was all systems go, he looked exactly like a player that hasn’t played since October. Henry rushed for 62 yards on 20 carries, highlighted by a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. With Henry not his normal self, the game was put in the hands of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which didn’t bode well for the no.1 seed in the AFC.


The Titans, however, still found themselves with a chance to win the game despite the struggles of Tannehill and Henry. With the Titans driving at the end of the game, Tannehill threw his third interception of the day, giving the Bengals great field position with less than a minute to go. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson walked the game off on a 52-yard field goal to send Cincinnati to the AFC Championship Game.

The storybook season for the Bengals continues, led by the former no.1 overall pick and his favorite target from LSU. They look to be significant underdogs going into the AFC Championship Game, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.

San Fransisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Correct pick: San Fransisco 49ers +5.5
Final score: San Fransisco 49ers 13-10 Green Bay Packers

Imagine being a Green Bay Packers fan; they have perhaps the best coach-quarterback duo in the NFL and still can’t seem to figure out the NFL Playoffs. Matt LaFleur has led the Packers to a 39-10 record over the course of three seasons, losing in the NFC Championship Game twice and now the Divisional Round. Two of the three times the Packers lost, they were favorites at home.

The NFC’s no.1 seed got off to a hot start by scoring on the first drive of the game, but that was about it. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn’t muster any offense, but neither could the 49ers. This game had an over/under of 47 points with most football betting sites, but it only totaled 23.

The Packers were leading 10-3 with four minutes left when they were forced to punt for the fifth time in the game. The Packers’ special teams unit has been dubbed as their Achilles heal, which proved to be true as the 49ers broke through to block the punt and score. Rodgers and company were then tasked with putting together a game-winning drive with four minutes left and two timeouts, but they couldn’t do it.

The Packers got their sixth punt of the game away just fine, but the defense was unable to stop Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners as they drove down the field to put themselves in a situation to win the game on the second walk-off field goal of Saturday’s NFL slate. Veteran kicker Robbie Gould drilled a 45-yard field goal to send the 49ers to their second NFC Championship Game in three years.

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Correct pick: Los Angeles Rams +2.5
Final score: Los Angeles Rams 30-27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There was sudden speculation before the game that this could in fact be the end of the Tom Brady era. Brady mentioned in an interview that he was going to take the offseason to contemplate retirement and enjoy some time with his family. This was odd timing – especially for Brady, who has said on multiple occasions that he’d like to play into his 50s.

It was the Rams that got off to a scorching start, scoring on their first three drives of the game and silencing the Tampa Bay crowd. In fact, Brady and the Buccaneers were down 27-6 all the way into the third quarter. This game looked to be out of hand, but if there is one thing that we have learned over the last 22 years, it’s never count out Tom Brady. He led the Buccaneers all the way back from being down over three scores to tie it at 27 with 40 seconds left in the game.

The Buccaneers’ miracle comeback was put to a halt as Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp connected for over 60 yards on two plays to put the Rams in a position to win the game with four seconds left, which saw kicker Matt Gay take the field to attempt the third walk-off field goal of the weekend. Gay connected on the 30-yard attempt to send the Los Angeles Rams to the NFC Championship Game, where they will take on the San Fransisco 49ers.

Both Brady and Stafford passed for over 300 yards, while Kupp finished the game with 183 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ biggest win of the season. The insane walk-off weekend continued to benefit the underdogs as the Rams upset the defending Super Bowl champions in a thriller.

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Correct pick: Chiefs -1.5
Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 42-36 Buffalo Bills

Wow, what a way to end the weekend! Two of the league’s best quarterbacks faced off in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship, and this game did not disappoint. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes went toe-to-toe from crazy arm angles to perfectly placed deep balls. Mahomes finished the game with 378 passing yards and three touchdowns, Allen with 329 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Allen’s connection with Gabriel Davis was in full effect as the latter finished the game with 201 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns, two of which came in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.

It was an old-fashioned shootout for most of the game until things got crazy with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. There were 18 points scored in the game’s final 1:18, highlighted by the Chiefs receiving the ball at their own 25-yard line with 13 seconds left on the clock. Somehow Mahomes and the Chiefs found a way to get it into field-goal range for Harrison Butker, who sent the game to overtime on a 48-yard conversion, and the rest was history. The Chiefs won the overtime coin-toss and promptly marched right down the field against an exhausted Bills defense to score on an eight-yard touchdown reception by Travis Kelce.

Allen led the Bills on not one, but two game-winning drives and they still lost the game. The terrible NFL overtime rules should be a discussion this week and into the offseason, as the Bills didn’t have a chance to answer back after the last Chiefs score. The Bills didn’t lose this game; the Chiefs won it. All credit to Kansas City, who will host the Cincinnati Bengals next weekend in the AFC Championship Game.

Next up: NFL Conference Finals

The NFL Divisional Round certainly did not disappoint, as all four games came down to a last second walk-off score. Next weekend, we have two championship games to watch which should be just as good, if not better. Check in with during the week to see our game previews and best bets for those matchups.

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