Just like that, the NFL divisional round has come, and gone. For four power-house teams, this past week has served as a glimpse of what may be ahead next week. For those who lost in this NFL divisional round – their games may serve as a teaser of what may come next year. Whether it’s regarding the uproaring of praise that Joe Burrow has received, or the disapproval many are plowing onto Dak – here’s what we learned from the NFL divisional round:
NFL Divisional Round: Bengals vs Bills
Joe Burrow is dangerous, but their weapons are heavily underrated. 49ers get all of the praise in the world for Samuel, McCaffery, and Kittle – but what about Mixon, Higgins, and Chase? It’s essentially the 49ers with a Pro Bowl caliber QB. That’s even more dangerous than the aforementioned with a 7th rounder at the helm.
It comes as no surprise that Cinci is back in the conversation – but with the Bills as a heavy favorite to take home the Lombardi trophy ahead of the season; this victory says one thing: last year was no fluke.
Summary: The Bengals are a mainstay in the upper echelon for the foreseeable future.
The injuries caught up, more specifically the injuries to Von Miller and Micah Hyde. The Bills defense had been slipping on a weekly basis, and the red flag really should’ve been against the Dolphins – when a 3rd stringer put up 20+. Not good. Plus, their running game needs to be addressed; too much to ask of Josh Allen – who’s a superstar, no doubt – but can’t carry the weight of the world on his shoulders (and legs).
Sure, we’ll still head into next season with Buffalo as a top-3 favorite (and justifiably so) – but if there’s one thing we learned from the Bills, it’s that one superstar can’t do it all… except maybe Patrick Mahomes. Even so, Mahomes needs a Travis Kelce, and Stefon Diggs, as great as he is – is not to the HOF level as Kelce.
Summary: Josh Allen is GREAT, but cannot carry a whole team to a Super Bowl.
NFL Divisional Round: Jaguars vs Chiefs
A respectable performance (insert slow clap here). NO ONE expected them to win, but they put up enough of a fight to earn a lot of respect points. Sure, the Jaguars could’ve taken a bigger advantage of the Mahomes-less drive with a turnover/3 and out, but it is what it is. That defense is solid, and Trevor Lawrence & Travis Etienne are a tandem for the future to continue building around. What a difference Doug Pederson has made…
SPOILER ALERT: Much like the Giants, not many even expected the Jaguars to get into the playoffs in the first place, which leads many to believe that this Jaguars team that showed up in the second half might be the one to stay. And if it is, wow – seriously, what a difference Doug Pederson has made…
Summary: The Jaguars are on the right track, and have PLENTY of time to develop…
Well, there wasn’t much to learn here – other than the fact that Patrick Mahomes is vulnerable after all, and they’re still the same old Chiefs. Says a lot about coaching and scheming when All-World QB Mahomes can step out for a second and they don’t lose too much of a beat (a la Matt Cassell & Patriots). When your best player is hurt and hobbled; and you still win with ease – that says a lot about the culture…
The culture is literally dominance. That’s all. As long as Patrick Mahomes is under center, and Andy Reid is at the helm; wins are almost inevitable. Remind you of any other QB-Coach duo…? But then again, this isn’t news to anyone – unless you’ve been living under a rock since Alex Smith left the building.
Summary: The Chiefs are still… the Chiefs.
NFL Divisional Round: Giants vs Eagles
It’s about time that the G-Men showed their true colors, and that’s not such a bad thing – they’re a work in progress. Good, but not near the same level as the other “real” contenders. Daniel Jones has shown flashes, but he’s not consistent enough to take a team further than the Wild Card round, and that’s what happened. It also doesn’t help that Danny Dimes doesn’t have a true WR1.
True and real seem to be the themes here regarding the Giants, but one thing is true – if they continue developing on this trajectory; they can change that narrative and become the real deal, as Brian Daboll himself appears to be the real deal at the helm. A solid draft and some free-agent signings can do this team wonders next year.
Summary: Daniel Jones has booked himself another year, and the Giants are only a few pieces away.
Contrary to the Giants, the Eagles showed everyone that they ARE the real deal; specifically, Jalen Hurts. The Giants have a good defense, and the Eagles were able to obliterate them – without the heroics of AJ Brown (which also proved they have two WR1’s in Brown/Smith — the “real Batman” debate).
With some pointing towards Hurts’ first postseason game, and their sudden skyrocket to success – the Eagles aren’t messing around… they’re here to prove themselves as a legitimate contender for the trophy. Some could question whether the Giants just laid an egg, but with this win, the Eagles win/loss record seems a lot more accurate…
Summary: Believe in the Eagles now? I sure do…
NFL Divisional Round: Cowboys vs 49ers
Stating the obvious, but Dak is average – and that’s okay, everybody! You can win with average QB’s – Joe Flacco, Broncos-era Peyton Manning, and Nick Foles. While Dak is no hero, he’s certainly not the problem, though. They need another WR or a better TE if they’re going to live up to the aspirations they give themselves.
They’re a good team, and put up one hell of a fight against the juggernaut 49ers; no need to overreact like everyone always does with Dallas – they’re good, but sometimes good teams lose, too… There’s no need to press the panic button, but also no need to stand pat. Maybe trade up for a standout rookie receiver, or go for Michael Mayer late in the first round – something needs to be done; but not everything.
Summary: PLEASE stop shitting on (and hyping up) the Cowboys, they’re a good team; not great.
What did we learn? Purdy is vulnerable after all, but then again – EVERY QB is allowed to have a sub-par game every now and then, especially a 7th rounder. And all of that being said, he didn’t even play horribly, either. The SF offense gets so much attention that it often overshadows their incredible defense – which was able to shut down the weapons of Pollard, Elliot, and (for the most part) Lamb to minimal scoring.
All the 49ers have to do is put some points on the board, and the defense will take care of the rest. They’re a damn good team, hell, maybe even great. As a side note, it’s also great to see a roster mostly made of “homegrown” talent – drafted Bosa, drafted Samuel, drafted Aiyuk, etc, etc.
Summary: The Niners have been good, now they’re on the border of great.
NFL Divisional Round: Conclusion
While we didn’t see any last second finishes this past weekend, we did learn a lot – some of which, were surprises… such as Buffalo, and to some, the 49ers dominance. Next week features two heavy-weight bouts truly worthy of the Championship games… .and I’m all here for it.
What will we see next week? You’ll have to wait until next article…
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