Gridiron Confidential: The story of the Divisional Round
We are one step closer to knowing which two teams will be competing in Super Bowl LV, the divisional round wasn't quite as dramatic as last weekend but it was still action that you couldn't keep your eyes off of.
The Browns come up just short of another upset, the Bills have too much for Baltimore and Brady out duels Brees in the final meeting of two legendary quarterbacks, here is everything you need to know from the divisional round.
Great offense triumphs over great defense as Packers beat Rams:
The LA Rams success this season has all been down to their elite defense but they had yet to come up against the offensive prowess of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who just had too many weapons for the Rams defense to handle.
Aaron Jones running game proved key as the pro bowler ran for 99 yards off 14 carries which including a touchdown to lead the Packers to a comfortable win. Jalen Ramsey was tasked with stopping wide receiver Davante Adams and while he kept him reasonably quiet, Adams still had 66 receiving yards and got free to score the first touchdown of the game. Aaron Donald, the other star in the Rams defensive machine was forced to sit out most of the game after struggling with an injury picked up in the wild card game. With Adams was being defended so well by Ramsey, Rodgers turned to Allen Lazard for some key plays. Lazard no doubt the star as he had 96 yards of offensive off just four receptions and a touchdown to ice is invaluable performance. Final Score at Lambeau Field, Packers 32-18 Rams.
The Packers have been on top form since week one of the 2020 season and with Aaron Rodgers in MVP form they will feel like they are the team to beat heading into the final stages of the playoffs. With a battle with the Buccaneers to come AR12 will want a second Super Bowl ring to go with his MVP award.
Bills have too much for Ravens:
In the low scoring game of the weekend the Bills handled the windy conditions in Buffalo best to stave off Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were arguably to two form players in the NFL heading into their playoff battle of Saturday night but the Allen/Diggs connection shined once more to put the Bills into the AFC Championship game. The signing of Diggs this past off season has been seen as the turning point for this Bills franchise and his performance on Saturday only added to that. Diggs made eight receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown but it was an end zone interception and return for a touchdown by Taron Johnson which sealed the victory for Buffalo. Baltimore could not get any momentum into their offense during the game with Jackson rushing for just 34 yards to go with 162 passing yards and an end zone interception before being forced out of the game with a concussion. It was an impressive performance from Buffalo on both the offensive and defensive end. Final Score at Bills Stadium, Bills 17-3 Ravens.
The Bills are now headed to their first AFC Championship game since 1993 and even though they are facing the defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs they will be quietly confident of prevailing next Sunday. Buffalo have grabbed the attention of the entire NFL with their performances so far this season and with Mahomes in a race to be fit for Sunday they may be set to go all the way to Super Bowl LV.
PREDICTION: BILLS TO UPSET CHIEFS IN EPIC
Chiefs stay aggressive to hold off Browns:
Kansas City were playing with star man Patrick Mahomes at 75% after he suffered an injury early in the game and he was then forced off completely with a concussion in the fourth but the Chiefs stuck to their cores and stayed aggressive to edge out the Cleveland Browns.
Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce were once again crucial, both players with over 100 receiving yards, Hill also made the crucial catch on 4&1 to earn the first down that secured the victory late in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs dominated the first half and went in with a 19-3 but it could have been a 16-10 game were it not for a Browns touchback late in the second quarter than was just inches from a first down inches from the Chiefs end zone. The Browns did bounce back in the second quarter however as Baker Mayfield showed how much he has grown as leader and quarterback getting his team to within five points of taking the lead in the fourth quarter and after Mahomes went down with a concussion, it looked like Cleveland may actually pull off the upset. Chad Henne came in to replace Mahomes and looked to be a ready made replacement leading the Chiefs into Browns territory but when he threw an interception in the end zone with 5 minutes remaining it seemed the game was Clevelands but a huge stop from the Chiefs defense put the ball back in Henne's hands and he showed his class rushing on third and long to get to within inches of the game winning first down and then throwing to Tyreek Hill on 4&1 to get the first and win the game. Final Score at Arrowhead Stadium, Chiefs 22-17 Browns.
The Browns brought the Chiefs to the brink but in the end just didn't have enough to win, Cleveland showed this year that they are a serious team and this first playoff experience in nearly two decades will have shown the front office just what this team needs to compete at the top.
The Chiefs will now face the second seed Bills in the AFC Championship game, becoming the first team to host the AFC Championship game three years in a row. They will be sweating over the fitness of Patrick Mahomes but will be glad Henne showed he is a capable deputy. From a fans point of view however, we are all hoping we get to see Mahomes and Allen go toe toe next Sunday.
Brady takes advantage of Saints turnovers:
Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time when his back is against the wall so when you gift him prime opportunities to succeed you have no hope and that was exactly the case on Sunday as Brady and Bucs downed Brees and the Saints after losing both regular season games.
Bucs fans must have feared the worst in the early stages of Sundays game as Tampa Bay failed to get a first down on their first two drives, gave up 60 yards on two punt returns from Deonte Harris and were down 6-0, which would have been 10-0 were it not for an illegal tackle by the Saints. However the Bucs then got into their groove and went in at the half level at 13-13. The defense was key for Tampa Bay, boosted by the return of Devin White. In the end the Buccaneers scored all three of their touchdowns off Saints turnovers, as we know the greats take advantage of their opponents weakness' and Brady did exactly that to drive his team to the NFC Championship game. It is widely believed that Drew Brees has now played his final game in the NFL and with a home defeat with three interceptions, it would be sad end to a legendary career. Final Score at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Saints 20-30 Buccaneers.
Brady and the Bucs will now face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field next Sunday and while they will no doubt be underdogs with Brady pulling the strings you always have a shot. It will be another battle between two legends of the game and will no doubt be a battle to the death.
PREDICTION: PACKERS COME OUT ON TOP IN CLOSE GAME