What we learned from 2023 NFL playoffs divisional spherical, Day 2: Cowboys fold once more, Bengals are dangerous

The subsequent wave of NFL playoff soccer has nearly washed over us. The divisional spherical kicked off Saturday with a pair of regular-season rematches — the Chiefs edging the Jaguars with a banged-up Patrick Mahomes, and the Eagles steamrolling the Giants for a clear sweep of their 2022 collection. On Sunday, the AFC and NFC Championship matchups have been determined because of the ultimate video games of the weekend slate, with the Bengals routing the Bills, and the 49ers edging the Cowboys.

Here are some instant and big-picture takeaways from the second day of the divisional spherical:

49ers want their protection to hold them

San Francisco obtained the job accomplished to safe a visit to the NFC title sport, however not primarily as a result of Kyle Shanahan’s offense was firing on all cylinders. George Kittle excelled, to make sure, simply as Travis Kelce did for the Chiefs on Saturday. And Brock Purdy at the very least did not flip the ball over. But the rookie quarterback was extra scattershot than ordinary, flushed out of the pocket within the face of a very good go rush, and arguably a fair higher unit awaits in Philadelphia. Shanahan’s situational decision-making additionally leaves rather a lot to be desired, as he performed it protected on a number of events. All that stated, DeMeco Ryans’ stingy “D” certain seems just like the catalyst happening the street for an opportunity on the Super Bowl. It’ll be as much as his entrance seven to bottle up Jalen Hurts and get the “W.”

Prescott, McCarthy not constructed for the massive stage

player headshot

Mike McCarthy owns a Super Bowl ring from his time in Green Bay, and that’ll by no means be stripped from him. But as Dallas’ head coach, he is now overseen two straight 12-5 groups which have did not advance previous the divisional spherical. Not solely that, however after going one-and-done towards San Francisco in 2021, he leaned much more conservative at key spots Sunday, choosing a late discipline aim reasonably than a fourth-down strive whereas trailing by seven, and punting it away with minutes left. His design for the ultimate play was additionally objectively ludicrous, asking Ezekiel Elliott to function Dak Prescott’s sole blocker reasonably than dial up a standard Hail Mary. Prescott, in the meantime, may’ve been much more egregious, throwing a pair of ugly picks, practically taking a security on the ultimate drive and customarily wanting off the mark. After seven years, he is now 2-4 in playoff video games.

Bengals, not Bills, even Chiefs’ greatest menace

player headshot

Who Dey Nation most likely may have informed you this earlier than, however Sunday’s sport confirmed it: Joe Burrow is the most important factor standing in Patrick Mahomes’ method within the AFC. That’s true not solely as a result of Burrow is 3-0 with killer numbers in his profession towards Kansas City, however as a result of in three seasons, he is already far exceeded Bills star Josh Allen on the massive stage, enhancing his playoff document to 5-1 and securing a second AFC title-game look in as a few years. Allen is the closest factor to Mahomes by way of off-script play-making, however Burrow’s imaginative and prescient, coupled with Cincy’s deep receiving corps and bodily protection, reigns supreme. With Mahomes banged up in KCthe Chiefs cannot relaxation straightforward.

Buffalo wants assist in the backfield, on the again finish

player headshot

The Bills ought to stay within the playoff dialog for so long as Josh Allen is underneath middle. But the MVP candidate nonetheless places too many balls in hurt’s method whereas counting on his pure presents. More than that, it was obvious in Sunday’s flat loss to the Bengals that Buffalo requires renewed weaponry and/or technique each on the bottom and within the secondary. Allen had no run-game help towards Cincy, with Devin Singletary and James Cook rendered nonfactors, and stalwarts like Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer have been crushed deep earlier than exiting with accidents. After a few years of flirting with a Super Bowl bid, it is most likely time for a deeper reshuffling of expertise.

Sean McDermott continues to be looking

There’s little doubt the coach has helped remodel Buffalo right into a perennial contender: he is gone 47-18, with 4 straight playoff appearances, since 2019. But even with Josh Allen’s ascent and loads of funding on protection, his Bills have now did not advance previous the divisional spherical of the playoffs in 5 of McDermott’s six seasons on the helm. It does not assist that Buffalo was completely outcoached and outplayed by itself turf in Sunday’s loss, when the Bills have been curiously conservative on a number of fourth-down selections and obtained little creativity from coordinators Ken Dorsey and Leslie Frazier.

Leave a Comment