Wild Card weekend left many football fans unsatisfied after a numerous amount of blowouts, but the Divisional Round kept fans on their seats for two days straight with nothing but nail biters. From the 49ers knocking off the heavily favoured Packers to one of the best playoff games we’ve ever seen between Mahomes’ Chiefs and Allen’s Bills, there was no shortage of drama ahead of Championship Sunday.
Here are some of our biggest takeaways from this wild weekend of football.
1. Bills vs. Chiefs is the new best rivalry in the NFL
If the NFL decided to cancel the playoffs to make a best-of-seven series between the Bills and the Chiefs, nobody would complain. This game was electric, filled with several late lead changes and clutch plays by both superstar quarterbacks. While the NFL’s controversial overtime rules, which has led to an outcry on social media of fans and players saying the rules should be changed, prevented this epic showdown from lasting longer, it was still a game for the ages and it seems like it’s only the beginning of this epic rivalry.
2. Stafford and Kupp are legit
27-3. The Rams nearly had the second greatest meltdown in playoff history (unsurprisingly, against Tom Brady) after letting the Brady Bunch claw their way back into the game by making mistake after mistake (I’m looking at you, Cam Akers). Fortunately for Los Angeles, they have Mr. Fourth Quarter on their team and he didn’t disappoint when they needed him. Stafford connected with Cooper Kupp twice on the final drive to set up the game-winning field goal to send the Bucs home.
3. Burrow needs more protection
This one is pretty obvious after the Titans sacked Burrow a staggering nine times. No matter how good your quarterback is, you can’t expect to win consistently if your signal caller is facing that much pressure. The Bengals can’t expect to get away with that against an elite Chiefs team, so coach Zac Taylor may have to get creative with his calls come Sunday. On another note, kicker Evan McPherson may be kicking his way to the MVP of this Cincinnati playoff run.
4. 49ers have championship caliber coaching
Kyle Shanahan may be the best coach in the NFL. Why, you say? Weren’t the 49ers barely a wild-card team this season? Yes, but it’s what he’s been able to do with this squad that’s so impressive. He has a very average quarterback behind the helm (Jimmy Garoppolo) so Shanahan has created one of the best and most creative running schemes in the league and at the forefront of it is All-Pro Deebo Samuel. The defense is also elite, shutting down two of the best offences in the league in back-to-back weeks. The 49ers stack up very well against each remaining team in the playoffs and don’t be shocked if they play spoiler for the Super Bowl.
5. Aaron Rodgers’ Packers career could be done
Green Bay is in a tough spot. The team didn’t even sniff playoff success this time around, and a departure between Rodgers and Green Bay seems much more probable than last season. The Packers have lots of financial concerns heading into the offseason and this year really seemed like the make-or-break season for the Packers. Rodgers has already expressed his dismay with not wanting to be a part of a rebuild, and right now that seems like a legitimate direction for Green Bay.
6. Titans should explore a quarterback upgrade
Ryan Tannehill has a bounty on his head in Tennessee right now. He seemingly has been holding this team back from playoff success in his tenure with the Titans. His playoff record in Tennessee is a putrid 0-3 and he was one of the main contributors to the Titans loss versus the Bengals where he threw three interceptions (including a late turnover that set up the Bengals game-winning field goal). While Tannehill’s contract is a concern, Tennessee could try to work something out and get a big name quarterback that’s on the market this offseason.
7. Bucs need Brady back
Tom Brady almost led another improbable playoff comeback again, just falling short 30-27 after being down 27-3 against the Rams. The Bucs need to do everything they can to make sure their signal caller returns next season after hints of him retiring are circulating. If Tampa Bay doesn’t have Brady back, it leaves a huge hole in this offence that would be tough to fill.