The divisional spherical of the playoffs actually disproved some narratives that lasted within the NFL all year long. Perhaps the Dallas Cowboys weren’t the Super Bowl contender they have been initially believed to be during the last a number of months or the Cincinnati Bengals actually are the perfect staff within the AFC (regardless of their 2-3 begin to the season).
Where do the Buffalo Bills go from right here after a troublesome loss to the Bengals? What in regards to the Cowboys going ahead? Both these groups cannot view their seasons the identical means because the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars, two groups that surprisingly made the divisional spherical after being two of the worst groups in soccer for a number of seasons. There’s a cause to be optimistic in Jacksonville and New York.
As for the groups that made it to convention championship weekend? Can Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs lastly defeat their kryptonite of Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals? Can the San Francisco 49ers and the No. 1 protection proceed the “protection wins championships” mantra and beat the NFC’s No. 1 offense within the Philadelphia Eagles?
Divisional weekend actually offered loads of solutions, particularly with the convention championship video games subsequent week. Here’s what we realized within the divisional spherical of the playoffs from every staff.
Defense rose to the event with Patrick Mahomes injured: The Chiefs are 54-3 after they maintain their opponents to lower than 27 factors, together with postseason play. The protection took that statistic to advantage, doing an excellent job at limiting Jacksonville to twenty factors within the 27-20 victory.
Was it an ideal efficiency? No, however it was ok. The Jaguars had 144 dashing yards and averaged 7.6 yards per carry whereas going 7 of 13 on third down, however the Chiefs compelled a Trevor Lawrence interception up 27-20 late within the fourth quarter and hit him seven instances.
The protection stepped up throughout the second quarter when Mahomes was within the locker room, holding Jacksonville to a few factors within the second quarter and preserving the lead on the break earlier than Mahomes returned.
Is the Chiefs protection nice? No, however that is Steve Spagnuolo’s greatest unit since he arrived in Kansas City. Less than 27 factors appears to be the magic quantity for a victory, whether or not Mahomes is wholesome or not.
Drops value staff probability at an upset: The Jaguars have been capable of grasp round with the Chiefs all through the sport, however Jacksonville might have been going to the AFC Championship Game if it wasn’t for a number of key drops. Trevor Lawrence discovered Christian Kirk on a deep cross that may have gone for 55 yards within the second quarter, however Kirk dropped the cross and the Jaguars rallied for a area objective.
In a 17-7 sport, Kirk wanted that reception to get Jacksonville within the purple zone and put some stress on Kansas City. The Jaguars had one other drop within the second quarter, as JaMycal Hasty had a drop on third-and-19 that compelled the Jaguars to punt.
The drops had an impact on Lawrence within the third quarter, as he was 5 of 8 for 10 yards on two possessions as Jacksonville could not achieve any floor. The Jaguars offense simply appeared out of sync after the Kirk drop — and by no means recovered.
Jacksonville can be again subsequent yr with a franchise quarterback in Lawrence and a roster that ought to enhance. The Jaguars will study from these miscues because the younger staff continues to develop.
Lane Johnson returned in an enormous means: Johnson spent the previous three weeks rehabbing and prepping for the chance to play within the postseason after delaying surgical procedure for a torn adductor in his groin. How efficient the perfect proper sort out can be was anybody’s guess.
Turns out, Johnson was his typical dominant self. He allowed no sacks, pressures, quarterback hits, and had a 0.0% stress fee in 26 pass-blocking snaps. His affect was felt in opposition to Giants cross rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who did not have a stress going through Johnson within the divisional spherical. The Eagles additionally ran for 268 yards, the second most in a postseason sport in franchise historical past.
The Eagles offensive line is the perfect in soccer. With Johnson on the sector, they’re dominant.
The offensive line wants enhancements this offseason: In every of the Giants’ three conferences with the Eagles, the offensive line was no match for a entrance that had 70 sacks this season. The Giants allowed 60 pressures and 14 sacks in three video games in opposition to the Eagles, 16 pressures and 5 sacks got here in Saturday’s loss.
New York allowed 49 sacks on the yr, which was tied for the fifth most within the NFL. The 272 pressures allowed was the second most and the 43.4% stress fee was the best. This merely is not ok.
New York must additional develop Evan Neal to present Andrew Thomas a battery mate at sort out. The inside of the road must be reworked as Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, and Nick Gates struggled in opposition to the elite pass-rushing groups. Ben Bredeson wasn’t a lot better both.
The Giants have cap area to enhance the offensive line. If New York retains Daniel Jones, the Giants want to guard him and provides him an opportunity to throw the ball downfield.
So a lot for having three offensive linemen out: The Bengals did not have left sort out Jonah Williams, proper sort out La’El Collins, and proper guard Alex Cappa in opposition to the Bills. Three-fifths of the offensive line out? Didn’t matter.
Jackson Carman made his first begin at left sort out, Hakeem Adeniji made his third begin at proper sort out, and Max Scharping made his second begin at proper guard. The inexperience did not matter because the three have been a part of a dismantling of Buffalo’s defensive entrance, pacing Cincinnati to 172 dashing yards and 5.1 yards per carry. This is similar Cincinnati run offense that was twenty ninth in dashing yards and twenty ninth in yards per carry throughout the common season.
The trio of Carman, Adeniji, and Scharping did not permit a sack within the sport. They allowed simply two quarterback hits, however did permit 11 pressures. Regardless of the excessive stress fee, they protected Joe Burrow and arrange the run sport for arguably its greatest efficiency of the yr.
The Bengals offensive line answered all of the questions it wanted to.
The run sport was a farce: No staff had extra deceiving dashing numbers than the Bills this season, but the dashing yards per sport and yards per carry did not rear its ugly head till Sunday. Buffalo had simply 63 rush yards and averaged 3.3 yards per carry in opposition to Cincinnati, their lowest yards per carry common in a sport all season.
Devin Singletary was a nonfactor with six carries for twenty-four yards. The Bills did not belief rookie James Cook sufficient to present him the ball late within the yr both (he completed with 5 carries for 13 yards). Josh Allen was their main rusher with 26 yards, and he had simply 3.3 yards per carry (averaged 6.1 on the season).
Neither Singletary nor Cook gave the impression to be go-to backs late, because the Bills averaged simply 3.8 yards per carry within the fourth quarter on the yr. Singletary averaged simply 4.0 yards per carry as defenses keyed in on Allen (3.2 yards per carry).
Buffalo wants a go-to again in 2023 if the Bills need to go to the Super Bowl. Of course, having a greater offensive line will not damage both. They simply cannot rely on Allen as a lot to hold the run sport.
Brock Purdy struggled in opposition to Cowboys stress: Purdy did his job for the seventh straight begin — main the 49ers to a win. He did not flip the soccer over in a sport through which the protection performed a significant position and getting him off his spot, which was essential towards the 49ers advancing.
There is a trigger for concern, particularly with who the 49ers are going through subsequent week. Purdy was simply 3 of 11 for twenty-four yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions whereas being sacked twice (39.6 ranking). The Cowboys have been capable of not make Purdy’s life straightforward, one thing different defenses could not do in his six earlier begins.
Purdy accomplished 51.1% of his passes for 264 yards with three touchdowns to 1 interception below stress within the common season (82.1 ranking). In the playoffs, 36.8% of his passes (7 of 19) for 157 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions (102.3 ranking).
Are the numbers higher? The Seattle sport inflated how Purdy has been performing when a protection will get close to him, however the Dallas sport could also be a sign of how issues might go subsequent week. Of course, the Eagles and their 75 sacks (common season and playoffs) have to truly get to Purdy too.
Dak Prescott wanted to be good — and wasn’t: The Dak Prescott who confirmed up nearly all of the season reappeared in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers. Prescott was 23 of 37 for 206 yards with a landing and two interceptions, his sixth multi-interception sport of the yr.
Prescott missed a number of open receivers and made questionable choices, changing into a legal responsibility for the offense as a substitute of a energy. When pressured, Prescott was a putrid 4 of 11 for 14 yards and an interception for a 7.0 ranking. In the second half (the half with out Tony Pollard), Prescott was 11 of 21 for 125 yards with no touchdowns and a 70.5 ranking.
Those numbers merely aren’t ok for a $40 million quarterback who wanted to hold the offense to scoring drives. Prescott seemed just like the participant who led the NFL in interceptions since he returned in Week 7 together with his questionable decision-making — as a substitute of the quarterback who had large video games in opposition to Philadelphia and Tampa Bay during the last month.
Prescott is just too inconsistent to assist the Cowboys make a Super Bowl run. He is what he’s at this level — and it is as much as Dallas to aim to right his points as he approaches 30.
Leave a Reply