In what was supposed to be the worst playoff game of the weekend we got an all-time classic. The Chiefs came out in the first half and dominated. When I say dominated I mean dominated, nearly 4 times as many first downs in the first half for the Chiefs. In the second quarter the Chiefs lost tight end Travis Kelce to a helmet to helmet hit. There was no flag on the play because technically Kelce was making a football move but the hit still looked brutal. Kelce was physically shaken while standing up, stumbling into team mate’s arms. After that the Chiefs began to lose their rhythm. A team that had taken shots for their first three drives reverted to check downs and avoided running the ball. It was a coaching problem that paired with a shell shocked Alex Smith that allowed the Titans back into this game. Derick Henry was the star of this game, running for 156 yards and a touchdown. It only took a Demarco Murray knee injury for Mike Mularkey to run this offense properly. That in itself is cause to be fired but Mularkey saved his job with a win in this game. Marcus Mariota looked bad in the first half but threw the game winning TD to Eric Decker in the final seconds of this game. The Titans offense woke up when they needed to and the Chiefs offense disappeared. Now for the Chiefs comes a turbulent off season which will most likely see them deal Alex Smith, to where is the question? The Titans move on to the divisional round and will be a headache on the ground to whoever they play next.
The Falcons defense came into this playoff weekend the most underrated group in the league. They showed that against the Rams, forcing back to back four and outs against the best offense in the league to start the game. The game really changed on a muffed punt by the Rams that gave the Falcons field position at the 18 yard line. The entire game was dominated by the Falcons defense. The Rams abandoned the running game early and that hurt them. The Rams lack of experience is what really hurt them. That said they should be considered major contenders next year especially if they add more weapons this offseason. For the Falcons this team is the hottest team in football right now and they travel to Philly for the divisional round.
In what was the most defensive game of the week this game was won with Blake Bortles legs. Bortles rushed for a career high 88 yards. In the passing game however Blake missed throw after throw, simple ones and the more challenging passes. Ive never seen a QB throw a bad screen pass until today. Buffalos defense played fantastically in the first half, completely shutting down the Jaguars run and passing game. However as the second half came around both defenses lost some mojo and gave up more yards and longer drives. In a possession based game the Jaguars had more effective possessions. The turning point of this game was when the Bills had a first and goal from the one late in the first half and decided to throw a fade to Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin was called for pass interference and the Bills settled for a field goal. You couldn’t help but feel like it was the beginning of a collapse and it was. Throughout the day Tyrod Taylor missed wide open throws and his receivers were prone to drops. You could see today why the Bills feel as if Taylor isn’t part of their future and it would shock me if they didn’t bring in a different QB this offseason. For the Bills this was a magical run that feels as if it’s a major building block for a team who will begin to re tool their offense this offseason.
The panthers found the recipe to stopping the Saints ground game. Alvin Kamara and Melvin Ingram were held to under 100 combined yards. The Panthers line backing core played its best game of the entire post season. However, Drew Brees reminded all of us that he is Drew Brees and we need to respect his greatness. Brees threw for 376 yards and 2 touchdowns in really a career defining game for the Saints signal caller. Brees has been lost in the hype of Wilson Brady and Rodgers but the Saints QB is undoubtedly a top 5 NFL QB. Despite a late Panthers surge the Saints defense won this game with a last second sack on Cam Newton. There was a glaring lack of receiving threats for Newton in the passing game and the Panthers will need to address that this offseason. Meanwhile the Saints will travel to Minnesota setting up the best game of Divisional weekend.