The idea of a "Super Wild Card" round was a good one, albeit one that was only in place to make the games viewership rise with little to no increase in the actual quality of football played. Some of these games were pretty good, most were blowouts, and some were actually entertaining. Let's go over each game, show the points to be happy about for each advancing team and then see where we are left heading into the divisional round next week.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals
There was a lot riding on this game for both teams, the Raiders hadn't made the playoffs in twenty years and the Bengals, while making the playoffs several times, hadn't had a playoff win in over thirty.
This was a low-scoring slugfest between two very well-rounded AFC offenses. In the second quarter, there was a very controversial call involving a premature whistle blow on a play resulting in a Bengals TD. By the NFL rule book, as soon as a whistle is blown the play is dead, meaning the TD catch should not have counted. This referee group headed by Jerome Boger came together and ruled the TD counted much to the dismay of Raiders fans who saw their deficit increase by a score of twenty-to-six going into the half. The Bengals would win and move on in the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Joe Burrow also wore some sweet sunglasses in the press conference after the game.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
The biggest blowout of the weekend came in this game, where the wind chill dropped the game time temperature to negative six degrees. Obviously Josh Allen and the Bills were more prepared for these conditions than Mac Jones and the Patriots.
Josh Allen would end the game with more touchdown passes than incompletions, capping a forty-seven to seventeen victory. The Bills controlled all aspects of this game from the jump, taking a twenty-seven to three lead into halftime and never looking back. The Bills looked very sharp and polished on offense and defense.
The Patriots didn't come to play plain and simple. No disrespect to the Bills, who played hell of a game, but the Patriots sluggish passing game was almost as surprising as they're defensive woes. The defense was the strongest side of this team all year and was exposed by the multiple weapons the Bills produced. The Pats will be back next year, but it's clear that secondary help and another year at the helm for Mac Jones and company is well needed.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game was over before it really ever started. The Buccaneers defense did an amazing job holding the Eagles rushing attack to one of their worst performances of the year. Jalen Hurts was forced to play the quarterback position within the pocket, and his two interceptions and scoreless first half showed that he isn't able to perform at this level with those restrictions.
The Buccaneers played their normal game of running the ball between the tackles, mixing in play action and Brady outsmarting every defense he goes up against.
The Buccaneers are a legitimate top-three team for Super Bowl odds and they proved it here with the dominant win over Philly on all facets of the game. Their ability to slow the game down and play at their pace is second-to-none and should give them an edge against the high-powered offenses they will have to get through if Tom Brady wants to earn a trip to his eleventh Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
The 49ers came out in this game and punched the Cowboys square in the face right away. This was the most physical game of the weekend and the score line showed it, a twenty-three to seventeen battle of heavyweights.
The Cowboys were the favorites heading into this clash and with good reason. America's team had scored over fifty points in two of there last three games and winning five of their last six. The 49ers had a middling season with injury troubles throughout, but were getting healthy at the perfect time returning multiple key players for this game.
Neither team was perfect offensively, both teams giving up turnovers and neither not able to pass the ball with any efficiency. The difference in this game was the creativity of the 49ers playbook and more specifically, Deebo Samuel. The do-it-all-receiver finished with thirty-eight yards receiving and seventy-two rushing while adding a game-sealing twenty-six yard run in the fourth quarter. Deebo is very dangerous when he gets to do multiple schemes and will present problems for as far as the 49ers go in this postseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
This story was the perfect scenario for high stakes drama in the playoffs. Unfortunately for some people, (at least those in Pennsylvania) the drama didn't unfold and the right team won.
Patrick Mahomes and company were able to stay in the game even after this year's probable DPOY T.J. Watt scored a fumble-recovery touchdown to break open the scoring in the second quarter. This seemed to wake up the Chiefs as the score was 21-7 by the end of the same quarter.
The Chiefs have proved in the back half of this season that they're the same team and they're capable of putting up six passing touchdowns against anybody.
Ben Roethlisberger's career seems to be over after a decent season full of highs and lows, but at least he got one more playoff game and against a future star like Mahomes, seemed to make for one more legendary moment no matter how brief.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams
Kyler Murray had led his Cardinals to their best season in six years, including an eight and one record on the road. Unfortunately, too many things went wrong for the Cardinals as the Rams were able to put away their divisional foe with relative ease.
The Rams showed their experience in the with a mix of their fluid passing offense embellished by Matthew Stafford who has at times taken this offense to newer heights we didn't even see in the 2018 season. While Murray showed his inexperience in his first playoff game, capped by an awful pick-six thrown from his own end zone.
The Rams seemed flawless on both sides of the ball, adding a running game with the return of their feature back Cam Akers who was sidelined for the entire season with a torn ACL. Akers and former-Patriot Sony Michel combined for thirty carries and one hundred thirteen yards, while Stafford added twenty-two yards and a touchdown on the ground. The emergence of Odell Beckham has made the passing attack effortless and the offense in total one of, if not the most frightening offenses to go against.
Wrap-Up from Zak Drapeau
This wild card weekend had some great moments but was overall the weekend of expected outcomes. Four our of six favorited teams won and covered their spread. This is what e expect out of Wild Card Weekend, as it seperates the "men from the boys" as we get prepared for the top-eight teams in the league to slug it out for a chance to earn a trip to their conference championship.
Fans Only Sportz will be continuing their coverage of the 2021-22 NFL Playoffs with our own Chris Hetu's weekly preview of next week's Divisional Round matchups on Friday the 22nd at 10 a.m.. We will cover the amazing matchups like Buffalo at Kansas City and Rams at Buccs and more.
Chris also hosts a weekly NFL Podcast every Thursday @7pmEST with fellow host and writer Tim Duffy, so make sure to check it out for early access to his article.
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