While the New England Patriots are already in offseason mode, the NFL’s playoffs continue. On Saturday and Sunday, the divisional round took place — and it more than made up for a wild card round filled with bad football. Three of the four games were decided on last-second field goals, while the fourth was taken to overtime.
When all was said and done, the matchups for the championship games were set.
AFC playoff picture
Divisional round weekend was kicked off with the Bengals taking down the top-seeded Titans in Nashville, thanks in large part due to three interceptions thrown by Ryan Tannehill. The final pick came with just 28 seconds left on the clock and helped negate an impressive defensive effort — Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow was sacked a playoff-record nine times — while allowing Evan McPherson to kick the game-winner from 52 yards out.
Saturday’s game was a thriller, but it pales in comparison to Saturday’s epic between the Bills and Chiefs. One of the best postseason games ever played saw three lead changes in the final two minutes plus a three-play, 13-second Kansas City drive to set up the game tying field goal. Once in overtime, the home team drove 75 yards in eight plays to score the deciding touchdown.
The AFC Championship will therefore be hosted by Kansas City yet again:
(4) Cincinnati Bengals at (2) Kansas City Chiefs: Sunday, Jan. 30, 3:00 p.m. ET (CBS/Paramount+)Not even the dynasty-era Patriots have hosted a conference championship game in four straight years. The Chiefs, however, will do just that on Sunday when they welcome the Bengals to Arrowhead Stadium. The contest will be a rematch of a Week 17 matchup that saw Cincinnati prevail on its home turf with a final score of 34-31.
NFC playoff picture
Just a few hours after the AFC’s top seed was eliminated from the playoffs, the NFC’s followed suit. Despite playing at home and in snowy conditions, the Packers were unable to generate enough offense to outlast the 49ers in a defensive battle. The decisive play came late in the fourth quarter, when San Francisco blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown to tie the game. Green Bay answered by going three-and-out which allowed the 49ers to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
The next day, the reigning world champions were pushed from the tournament. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers fell behind 27-3 by the third quarter but a frantic comeback allowed them to tie the game with 42 seconds left. However, that was enough time for L.A. to drive 63 yards and set up a 30-yard field goal as time expired.
The NFC championship game will therefore be an all-NFC West matchup:
(6) San Francisco 49ers at (4) Los Angeles Rams: Sunday, Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m. ET (FOX, FOX Deportes)Considering that they share a division, the 49ers and Rams have already met two times so far this season. San Francisco won both of those games: Jimmy Garoppolo and company beat its NFC West rivals 31-10 in Week 10 and 27-24 in Week 18.