Super Wild Card Weekend is in the books and it’s on to the divisional round in the NFL. We saw teams that were true contenders rise and a few pretenders get beat down. The game of the weekend was easily in Dallas where the 49ers beat the Cowboys in what some would call an upset, but many people, including myself, predicted the 49ers would prevail over the Dallas. It’s cold outside in much of the country, but the playoffs are just heating up and before we look ahead to the divisional round let’s recap Super Wild Card Weekend.
Raiders vs Bengals:
Joe Burrow and the young Bengals outlasted Derek Carr and the Raiders in a 26-19 win. It would be the first playoff win for the Bengals in 31 years. In his first playoff game Joe Burrow was solid going 24/34 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Burrow would throw nearly half of his 244 yards to Ja’Marr Chase who caught nine passes for 116 yards. Cincinnati will have to improve its red zone offense if they’re going to beat the top seed in the AFC, Tennessee Titans, next week. The Bengals kicked four field goals, which kept the Raiders in the game and Derek Carr almost lead his team to a game tying drive. Carr, who would throw for 354 yards, had the Raiders driving down the field, but for whatever reason spiked the ball on first down instead of running a play. Carr couldn’t connect on 2nd and 3rd down, and was picked off on 4th down. Despite a lot of adversity, Carr and interim coach Rich Bisaccia did a heck of the job getting the Raiders to the playoffs, but ultimately came up just short. The Bengals are a team that could give the Titans some fits in the divisional round if they clean up their red zone efficiency.
Patriots vs Bills:
Buffalo dominated this game from the beginning and the Patriots couldn’t muster enough offense in a 47-17 win for the Bills. Josh Allen was spectacular, throwing for five touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 98.5. Allen would also run for 66 yards and the Bills as a team rushes for 174 yards on six yards a carry. It’s been a long time since a Bill Belichick team has been beaten down like this in the postseason. The Patriots and their rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, struggled down the stretch after at one point being the top seed in the AFC. Jones threw two interceptions and couldn’t keep up with the onslaught that the Bills offense went on. Buffalo is on to Kansas City in a rematch of the AFC Championship game from last season.
Eagles vs Buccaneers:
This one was never close as the Bucs jumped out to a 31-0 lead. Philadelphia overachieved this season, but only had one win versus a team with a winning record. Tom Brady was efficient, going 29-37 for 271 yards and two touchdowns, and Tampa’s defense forced three turnovers. If you’re an Eagles fan you must look forward to the future, as Philly has three first-round draft picks. Tampa Bay will have a rematch with the LA Rams next week, and may do it without Tristan Wirfs who injured his ankle. If Wirds can’t go Sunday it will be another huge loss for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense, as Aaron Donald and Von Miller are going to be difficult to block.
49ers vs Cowboys:
Deebo Samuels did a little bit of everything on the offensive end, and despite Jimmy Garoppolo’s best efforts to trick this game off, the 49ers were able to hold on and beat the Cowboys 23-17. Dallas can only blame themselves for this loss. They started off the game slow, getting down 23-7, and when they did have opportunities to make plays they shot themselves in the foot. Dallas committed 14 penalties, including several that extended drives for the 49ers’ offense. Samuels and Elijah Mitchell would lead a rushing attack that ran for 169 yards and had the San Francisco in position to coast to the finish line, but a Jimmy Garoppolo interception would lead to a Cowboys’ touchdown. Dallas was able to get the ball for one final drive, but with 14 seconds left and no timeouts Dak ran a QB draw, but ran out of time because the Cowboys didn’t get the football to the officials to set the next play. It was a fitting end to the Cowboys season, as they have had poor clock management and situational football management all season. For all the hype, were the Cowboys ever true contenders? Including this playoff game, Dallas was 6-6 in games outside of the NFC East. Either way, it is another disappointing season for Jerry Jones’ squad. For the 49ers, it’s on to Green Bay to take on the NFC’s top seed.
Steelers vs Chiefs:
Patrick Mahomes was doing what Pat Mahomes normally does in the postseason and that’s ball out. Mahomes threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns as the Chiefs doubled up the Steelers, 42-21. The Chiefs offense started off slow, but a trick play with Mecole Hardman and Darrel Williams jump-started the offense and they never looked back. The fact that the Chiefs had to resort to a trick play pissed off Patrick Mahomes, and the Chiefs’ offense was dialed in afterwards. It was Ben Roethlisberger’s final game in a Steelers uniform and Pittsburgh just couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs, but it was quite an accomplishment that the Steelers even reached the postseason. Mike Tomlin’s team overachieved and will be searching for a quarterback this off-season.
Cardinals vs Rams:
Matthew Stafford was 0-3 in the postseason, and nobody was under more pressure to win during this past weekend than him. Stafford was able to shake the monkey off his back with an efficient 13-17 for 202 yards and two touchdowns, leaning on a running game that produced 140 yards rushing. The Rams defense shut down the Cardinals offense. Arizona has been a team in recent history that fades towards the end of the season and that trend continued this year as the Cardinals struggled down the stretch and were dominated in this game. Kylar Murray only threw for 137 yards and was picked off twice, including a head scratching pick-six. The Cardinals, as a team, only produced 183 yards of offense. The Rams’ win sets up a rematch from a week three matchup with Tom Brady and the Bucs.
Divisional Round Schedule and Predictions
- Bengals vs Titans Saturday at 4:30 P.M.
- 49ers vs Packers Saturday at 8:15 P.M.
- Rams vs Tampa Bay Sunday at 3:00 PM
- Bills vs Chiefs Sunday at 6:30 PM
Predictions: Bengals, Packers, Rams, and Chiefs