The NFL Wild Card round was as advertised. Wild and full of chaos. There were upsets and near-impossible comebacks. With all that transpired, the Divisional round should be just as exciting. Before looking at the divisional round matchups, let’s look at what happened in the Wild Card round.
San Francisco 49ers 41, Seattle Seahawks 23
The 49ers came into this game as one of, if not the hottest team in the league. Led by the last pick in this year’s draft, Brock Purdy, they tout a high-powered offense and a defense that plays lightning-fast. Their division rivals, the Seahawks, gave them quite a scare, however, even leading going into halftime. The 49ers would dominate the second half 25-6, leading them to the next round.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Los Angeles Chargers 30
Without a doubt, this was the most chaotic game of the weekend. It was a tale of two halves, as Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half of his first playoff game. The Chargers got out to a 27-0 lead at one point and went into the half up 27-7.
The second half went in an entirely different direction. Jacksonville would score a touchdown to bring themselves within four. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Joey Bosa allowed Jacksonville to go for two from the one-yard line. They would convert to bring the lead down to two. The Chargers went three and out to give the Jags the ball back, and Jacksonville would face fourth and one. Travis Etienne Jr would run for 25 yards to put the Jags in field goal range. Jacksonville made the field goal to cap off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL postseason history.
Buffalo Bills 34, Miami Dolphins 31
Buffalo drew their division rival, Miami, who gave them problems in the regular season. The Bills had a hot start, going up 14-0 after the first quarter. Miami had an excellent second quarter, bringing it to 20-17 at halftime. Miami would take the lead in the second half after Josh Allen’s fumble got returned for a touchdown by Zach Sieler. Buffalo would rebound, winning 34-31 after a pair of Josh Allen passing touchdowns.
New York Giants 31, Minnesota Vikings 24
The G-Men came into Minneapolis to take on the Vikings. The teams exchanged opening-drive touchdowns before the Giants scored ten unanswered points to go up 17-7. KJ Osborn would score from nine yards to make it 17-14 at the half. The two teams exchanged opening drive touchdowns again before the Vikings were ultimately able to tie the game at 24. Saquon Barkley would score his second touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 31-24. Minnesota went for it on fourth and eight, where Kirk Cousins would throw far short of the sticks. The Giants would make the tackle before ultimately running out the clock and advancing to the next round.
Cincinnati Bengals 24, Baltimore Ravens 17
Without Lamar Jackson, nobody gave the Ravens much of a chance in this one. Fortunately for them, Tyler Huntley was able to return for this one. They had the advantage after the first half, winning 10-9 through two quarters. The Bengals’ first drive of the second half lasted seven minutes, leading to a touchdown and a two-point conversion to put them up 17-10. The Ravens would be able to tie it in their next drive.
The Bengals would punt, and the Ravens drove down to the one-yard line. Huntley would fumble while attempting to leap over the line of scrimmage, and Sam Hubbard would run it back for a 98-yard touchdown. The play has been aptly named “The fumble in the jungle.” The Ravens had one more attempt to drive down the field, but the time forced them to attempt a hail mary at the end of the game. James Proche came close to catching the tip, but the ball fell to the ground, making the Bengals the winners.
Dallas Cowboys 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
This matchup was all Dallas all the way. The Cowboys got off to a hot start, winning the first half 18-0. Dak Prescott played one of his best games to date. Dak scored five touchdowns combined while throwing for over 300 yards. The only thing that didn’t go Dallas’ way in this one was the kicking. Brett Maher missed four extra-point attempts in this one, creating questions about whether or not he will be on the roster for next week’s game. As for the Bucs, they will likely be starting over. Tom Brady will probably leave Tampa Bay, which may lead the Bucs to a rebuild.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Kansas City Chiefs
These two teams met up in Week 10. Kansas City won this matchup 27-17 last time, but this Jaguars team is very different from the one the Chiefs faced previously. Since then, Jacksonville has won seven out of eight games. Trevor Lawrence is not likely to throw four interceptions again, and Kansas City’s defense has had some issues in the latter half of the season. The upset could be more likely than we think.
New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles
Two NFC East rivals will clash in this one. In their last matchup, the Eagles, playing all their starters, only beat the Giants’ backups by six points. However, in their first matchup, the Eagles scored 48 points on the Giants. The Giants have yet to beat the Eagles this season, but their Week 18 matchup seems like it could have gone their way if they had played their starters. If Jalen Hurts’s shoulder is back to being fully healthy after the bye week, the Eagles could be back to the powerhouse they were all season.
Cincinnati Bengals vs Buffalo Bills
This matchup will more than likely be the game of the week. There’s so much intrigue in this one, as the previous matchup between these two got stopped due to Damar Hamlin’s scary injury. Both these teams have tidal waves of momentum coming into this game and quarterbacks who can lead their teams to the Super Bowl. A significant factor in this game will be if Josh Allen can reduce the number of turnovers he commits. Giving the Bengals extra drives with their high-powered offense is not ideal.
Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers
While both sides have great offenses, this could be a low-scoring game. Their defenses are just that much better. Both teams can get to the quarterback well and are excellent at creating turnovers. This game will be the ultimate test for Brock Purdy. Dallas’ defense is by far the best Purdy has faced in his young career. If Dallas can rattle the young quarterback, there is potential for an upset in this game.