The NFL playoffs once again took center stage as eight teams fought for a spot in the conference title games. There were some great matchups, major injuries, close games, and an ageless wonder taking over again. The conference championships will be very entertaining but let's break down the amazing divisional round.
#1 Green Bay Packers vs. #6 Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers came ready to play versus the number one defense in the league. LA had no answer for Green Bay as Rodgers marched down the field with ease, throwing for 296 yards, two passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown.
Aaron Donald was limited in snaps and Jalen Ramsey couldn’t contain Davante Adams at all. Adams racked up 9 receptions and 66 yards against one of the best corners in the league. The Rams offense was stagnant as the Green Bay Pass rush put Jared Goff under immense pressure forcing mistakes.
LA made the game close however they could not get close to Green Bay who cruised to a victory. Green Bay moves on and will host their first conference championship game at home since 2009.
#2 Buffalo Bills vs. #5 Baltimore Ravens
This game got off to a slow start as gusty winds forced two missed kicks from almost automatic kicker Justin Tucker. The game was tied at three at the half but Buffalo came out ready to play with a game-winning drive in the third quarter.
Stefon Diggs was open on an easy screen pass for the Bills to take a 10-3 lead and they never looked back. Both defenses came to play this game but ultimately the Ravens fell short as Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six late in the third quarter.
Buffalo held the Ravens the rest of the game and Jackson was out with a concussion in the fourth quarter. Josh Allen threw for 206 yards and one touchdown. Buffalo moves on to their first conference title game since 1994.
#1 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #6 Cleveland Browns
Kansas City came out red hot this game despite Patrick Mahomes not playing for three weeks before this game. Mahomes led a scoring drive right after the opening kickoff and the Chiefs never looked back going up 19-3 and dominating the first half.
The Browns looked to tie it up before half when Rashard Higgens reached for the goal line and fumbled through the endzone. This play resulted in a touchback forcing the Browns to give the ball up before half when a touchdown would have cut the lead in half. In the second half, the Browns made some adjustments with a score cutting the lead to 19-10.
The ensuing drive saw Mahomes rush on a 4th and 1 and got tackled awkwardly. Mahomes was out the rest of the game with a concussion and 13-year backup Chad Henne led the Chiefs the rest of the way. After one bad interception, the Browns couldn’t get anything done on offense.
Chad Henne ran 13 yards on a 3rd and 14 forcing a fourth and short at the 2-minute warning. Henne then threw a quick out pass to Tyreek Hill for the win on fourth down. The Chiefs will host Buffalo for a trip to the Super Bowl on the line at Arrowhead.
#2 New Orleans Saints vs #5 Tampa Bay Bucaneers
Two historic Quarterbacks took the field Sunday night in New Orleans with a trip to the NFC championship game on the line. It was round three between Tom Brady and Drew Brees. New Orleans dominated the start of the game on defense forcing two three and outs from the Buccaneers' offense.
This game started to look like the blowout in the previous meeting until Sean Murphy Bunting picked off Drew Brees. Brady put the Buccaneers up 10-6 with a touchdown pass to Mike Evans. The game was tied 13 at the half until the Saints scored on the first possession of the second half.
New Orleans made a stop on defense and looked to go up two scores until Jared Cook fumbled near midfield. The game changed as Brady led a game-tying drive then the Buccaneers got a much-needed stop on defense. With key plays from Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson, the Buccaneers kicked a field goal to up three.
The ensuing drive saw Brees throw a pick to Devin White and Brady capitalized, scoring on a QB sneak to make it 30-20. Tampa Bay held on to the end securing a conference championship berth and a trip to Green Bay. The bigger story was Drew Brees' rumored retirement after the season and the two of the best quarterbacks to play the game shared a moment after the game.
With two conference championship matchups on the way, two teams will punch their ticket to the big game. Rodgers vs Brady will look to represent the NFC while Mahomes and Allen will battle it out for the AFC.
*All stats via ESPN