The playoffs have been a roller coaster thus far
The NFL playoffs have been chaotic, to say the least. We have already seen the end of the Patriots dynasty, one of the biggest chokes in playoff history and an improbable run by the Tennessee Titans to make it to the AFC Championship game.
Vikings vs Saints
The Vikings were able to pull off the upset of the playoffs in New Orleans as they beat the Saints 26-20 in an overtime thriller. The narrative over Kirk Cousins’ career is that he does not show up in big games, but in the biggest game of his career he outplayed future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Cousins threw for 242 yards and fired the game-winning touchdown in OT to Kyle Rudolph, which came three plays after probably the best throw of Cousins’ career when he hit Adam Thielen on a 43-yard bomb to put the Vikings at the Saints two-yard line. Brees only threw for 208 yards and one touchdown while adding two turnovers.
Titans vs Patriots
Who would’ve thought that Ryan Tannehill (or Derrick Henry) of all people would be the one to end the Patriots dynasty. The Titans went into Foxborough and beat the Patriots 20-13 behind a great defensive performance and a dominant game on the ground by Henry. Henry rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown and seemed unstoppable the whole second half. The Patriots offense struggled all game long and the Titans put the nail in the coffin after a Logan Ryan pick-six off of Brady.
Titans vs Ravens
The Titans followed up their upset of the Patriots with an even bigger upset as they went into Baltimore and beat the number one seed Ravens 28-12. The Titans once again leaned on Derrick Henry as he ran for 195 and even threw a touchdown. While he only threw for 88 yards, Ryan Tannehill did contribute 3 touchdowns on the night. The main story here though is that once again, Lamar Jackson played his worst game of the year during the biggest moment of the season. He struggled all night as even though he collected over 500 yards of offense himself, he had three turnovers on the night and only one touchdown.
Texans vs Chiefs
The Chiefs beat the Texans in stunning fashion, as they won by a score of 51-31. Anyone who did not watch the game and just saw the final score probably thought that the Chiefs dominated from start to finish but that was that is far from the truth. The Texans jumped on the Chiefs early as they were able to take advantage of Kansas City’s mistakes. A blown coverage led to an easy touchdown for Houston. The Chiefs dropped two passes on third down, had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and muffed a punt leading to another touchdown for Texans. This was just in the first quarter. The game came down to three huge plays that opened the door for the Chiefs improbable comeback. The first was Bill O’Brien electing to kick a field goal on fourth and inches which was brought into question. The second was the kick return by Mecole Hardman to give the Chiefs great field position after the Texans field goal, leading to the Chiefs first touchdown. The third might have been an even worse decision than the field goal. The Texans faked a punt on fourth and five in their own territory. It failed and gave all the momentum back to the Chiefs. The Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to win by 20-plus points after having trailed by 20-plus points in a postseason game. Their 24-point comeback was the fourth largest in playoff history.
Vikings vs 49ers
The 49ers ended the Vikings season last Saturday as they won 27-10. As we have seen all year, the 49ers defense was tremendous as they held the Vikings to ten points and less than 200 yards of total offense. The defensive line dominated the Vikings offensive line as they collected six sacks including two from Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Nick Bosa. The Niners were able to dominate on the ground as they rushed for 186 yards and Tevin Coleman had a monster game, running for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Seahawks vs Packers
The Packers were able to hold off a late comeback from the Seahawks to win 28-23. Aaron Rodgers looked like the great Aaron Rodgers that he’s shown glimpses of this season but didn’t put it together consistently throughout the regular season. Him and Davante Adams torched the Seahawks secondary as Adams had 8 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns. For the Seahawks, the same common trend happened in this game, try to run the ball and fail over and over while the opponent gets a multiple possession lead and then let Russell Wilson air it out. This season the Seahawks have used Wilson and the passing game as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency, which is questionable considering that he is a top-three quarterback in the league. The Seahawks had a chance to win the game, getting the ball back with a little under five minutes left but ended up punting the ball back to Green Bay (why?) with under three minutes left in the game. The Packers were able to run the clock out the rest of the way.
Looking ahead, the Titans will go on the road to play the Chiefs, while the Packers will travel to San Fransisco to play the 49ers in their respective championship games.