NFL

NFL Monday Morning Roundup – The Greatest Playoff Weekend Ever?

Wow! Just, Wow!

Have you ever seen a playoff weekend like that? Every game, packed with drama and incident and going right down to the wire, three decided on a walk off field goal and one on an overtime touchdown.

How can you not love the NFL when it gives you drama like this? Especially in what has already been a season that has been cram-packed full of exciting games, shocks and surprises every week.

The upshot of Divisional Playoff weekend this week was that the Cincinnati Bengals will head to Arrowhead next week to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Conference Championship.

DraftKings Sportsbook has the Chiefs the -7 favorites to win the AFC Conference title (-310 on the moneyline), with the Bengals +245 on the moneyline.

Across the country, the Los Angeles Rams will host their divisional rivals and great nemesis the San Francisco 49ers in what promises to be an intriguing NFC Conference Championship.

The Rams are the -3.5 favorites in the NFC Conference Championship in the early betting, with the 49ers +150 on the moneyline (-170 if you want to back the Rams).

But those bare facts and odds don’t even tell you a fraction of what happened across this amazing NFL playoff weekend.

Let’s now give you a rundown of what happened in each of the four games from Saturday and Sunday.

And strap yourself in, this is going to be a hell of a ride!

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Cincinnati Bengals 19-16 Tennessee Titans

The return of Derrick Henry was supposed to push the Titans past the Bengals, so the narrative went.

It’s likely it would have done, had Ryan Tannehill not had a nightmare time of it.

Tannehill threw three interceptions, the last of which came in the last few seconds of the game, allowing the Bengals to advance down the field and kick the winning field goal as time expired. The other two coming right at the very beginning of each half.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense had little answer to the Titans pass rush, with Burrow being sacked nine times and in truth, that and the fact the Bengals were held to just one touchdown, should have been enough for the Titans to land the win.

Still, Burrow racked up over 300 yards of passing, a good chunk of which went to Ja’Marr Chase, but it was the foot of Evan McPherson that saw the Bengals through as he connected on four field goals, the last of which came as time expired from 52 yards.

The Titans will know this was a huge opportunity missed. They had fought back to tie the game at 16-16 and after holding the Bengals to a punt, they were driving into Bengals territory late in the game and looking likely to run the clock down and kick the game winning field goal themselves.

Perhaps somewhat inexplicably, given that D’Onta Foreman was gouging major yards out of the Bengals in the second half on the ground, the Titans called a pass play, from which Logan Wilson reached out to intercept the ball and hand the Bengals back the ball on their own 47 yard line.

Burrow then completed a 19-yard pass to Ja’Marr chase to get in field goal range and McPherson did the rest.

For the Titans, questions will be asked of their play calling on offense and how a solid unit could put in such a poor performance when it mattered, especially when their defense did more than enough to give them an opportunity to win the game.

San Francisco 49ers 13-10 Green Bay Packers

In the cold of Lambeau Field, some teams can freeze, literally and metaphorically.

The San Francisco 49ers are not one of them.

After seeing just one touchdown scored in the first possession of the first half, the score was still 7-0 as we headed into the second half and it was this point that the only real weakness in the Green Bay Packers team, and one of the strengths of the 49ers, played a key role; Special Teams.

Jimmie Ward had already blocked Mason Crosby’s 39-yard-field goal attempt at the end of the first half, but then at the start of the second, Deebo Samuel returned the kick off 45 yards, which allowed the 49ers to make progress into the Packers half from which they scored their first points of the game to make it 7-3.

Crosby was successful with a field goal in the fourth quarter to make the score 10-3 and with just 4.50 left in the quarter, the 49ers forced the Packers into another punt from inside their ten.

Bojorquez punt was then blocked by Willis and the ball spun up into the air, bouncing on the ground before Hufanga recovered the ball and returned it the six yards into the end zone. Robbie Gould added the extra point to tie the game up.

The Packers could not get going on their next set of downs and took just 1.21 off the clock. Jimmy Garoppolo then engineered the key drive of the game moving the ball 44 yards downfield to put the 49ers in with a chance of a field goal victory as time expired.

Robbie Gould, who had hit 19/19 field goal attempts in his post season career stepped up and made it 20/20 with a 45-yard field goal to win the game.

Aaron Rodgers has now experienced four playoff defeats to the 49ers in his career. The most defeats in playoffs history to a single opponent.

Los Angeles Rams 30-27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If Saturday’s action was dramatic, Sunday’s was quite simply off the charts in terms of excitement and yet, for the first three quarters of the Rams @ Bucs game, it looked like as if this game was all over bar the shouting.

The Rams started this game superbly well and Matt Stafford was key. Gay kicked the Rams in front and then Stafford found Blanton for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Then in the second quarter, he hit Cooper Kupp for a 70 yard touchdown pass to put the Rams up 17-3. Another field goal followed by a touchdown where Stafford scored himself on a 1-yard run put the Rams up 27-3.

It looked like the Bucs season could be flatlining, but then after Ryan Succop connected on a field goal to make it a 3-score game, Tom Brady and the Bucs offense finally began to get some traction.

Until then, Brady had been under constant pressure from the Rams defense, with Miller, Donald, Fisher and co pressuring the veteran on almost every passing play.

However, after Leonard Fournette ran in to reduce the deficit to 27-13, the Rams offense started to stutter and Brady began to find holes in the Rams secondary. A stunning 55-yard pass to Mike Evans, after a Cooper Kupp fumble, brought the Bucs right back into it and then with 46 seconds left on the clock, Fournette ran in on a fourth and one to tie the game back up, the drive the result of another fumble on offense by the Rams.

Overtime looked likely but Stafford and Kupp were not finished. With just over 40 seconds left on the clock, Stafford managed to move the ball 63 yards downfield, connecting twice for big plays with Kupp, and with just four seconds left he spiked the ball for Gay to kick a game winning field goal, once again as time expired.

It was an incredible end to an incredible three games, but the NFL Gods had the best still in store.

Buffalo Bills 36-42 Kansas City Chiefs (OT)

Sometimes, it is hard to convey in mere words just how good a game between two class teams is.

This is a perfect example of that and once again, the drama in the game all came late.

Before that we were treated to examples of brilliance, from both teams on offense and defense with the stars of the show being Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, two quarterbacks who could be set to become the next great rivals in the NFL.

The Bills opened up the scoring with a Singletary rush touchdown, only for Mahomes to scramble brilliantly in the end zone to level the score before the end of the first quarter.

Mahomes then found Pringle to put the Chiefs in front, but before the end of the half, Allen had found Davis for an 18-yard touchdown to level matters at the half.

At the start of the second half, Butker kicked a field goal for the Chiefs and then a Mecole Hardman rush put the Chiefs 23-14 up, although the resulting extra point attempt was missed.

The Bills didn’t miss a beat. On their next play, Josh Allen hit Davis for an incredible 75 yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to two. 21-23.

An field goal midway through the fourth quarter put Kansas City 26-21 up but the fireworks were only just beginning.

On their next drive and with just two minutes left on the clock Allen found Davis for a third touchdown to put the Bills in front and a two point conversion found Stefon Diggs to increase the lead to three.

Back came the Chiefs, who used up just 41 seconds on the clock before they went back in front, Mahomes finding Hill for a 64-yard touchdown, with Butker kicking the extra point.

Like two heavyweights standing in the ring landing haymakers on each other, back came the Bills. Allen connecting with Davis for a playoff record fourth time to put the Bills back in front with just 13 seconds remaining on the clock. Surely we would be heading to Buffalo for the AFC Conference Championship game.

No, we weren’t as in 13 seconds, Mahomes managed to get the Chiefs in position to kick a 49-yard field goal to tie the game and force overtime as the game clock expired.

It was an incredible end to arguably the best two minutes of football in NFL history.

The Chiefs won the toss in overtime and elected to receive. It was a decision they would not regret. Mahomes moved the ball downfield and hit Travis Kelce from 8-yards to hand the Chiefs the walkoff win in arguably the best playoff game in history.

It put the cap on a dramatic weekend of football, certainly the best I’ve ever witnessed and one that will live long in the memory.

Join us again later in the week when Collin Hulbert will be bringing you his tips for the Conference Championship games!

And I for one can’t wait!

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