Can you believe it is already the Championship round? It seems like just last week it was still the midseason, yet here we are just three meaningful games away from the end of the season.
The Divisional round of the playoffs was wild.
In the AFC, the Tennessee Titans continued their incredible season, marching into Baltimore and bullying the 14-2, number one seed Ravens to a 28-12 win. Their run so far has the feel of destiny as they prepare to travel to KC to take on the Chiefs.
The Chiefs had their own drama, falling down 24-0 to the Texans but coming back to take the lead in the SECOND QUARTER. They ended up winning 51-31 in their largest comeback ever.
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In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers handled their business against the Minnesota Vikings with a dominant defensive performance. They had six sacks, allowed only two third down conversions from 12 attempts, held the Vikings to 21 rushing yards on 10 attempts and limited them 147 total yards – the 49ers Super Bowl era record.
In the final game of the weekend, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers held off the Seattle Seahawks to advance to their first NFC Championship since 2014 when they lost in Seattle in OT. The game-clinching first down may have been questionable, but the Packers have set up a chance for redemption after being embarrassed by the 49ers in Week 12.
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After a 1-3 record in the Wild Card round, Madden went 4-0 in the Divisional round – even picking similar win margins for three of the games. So, can it continue into the Championship round?
Tennessee Titans 12 @ 39 Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs fans rejoice! You’re in the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl IV. For Titans fans, meanwhile, their magical run comes to an end with a convincing and unquestionably painful loss.
The game couldn’t have started much worse for the Titans. They watched the Chiefs score an opening drive touchdown, and on their first possession Ryan Tannehill threw the first of his three interceptions, this one in the red zone.
From there the game spiraled. It may have only been 14-6 at half time, but the Chiefs ran away with it in the second half.
When all was said and done, Patrick Mahomes only need to throw 20 passes, completing 19 with four touchdowns, as the Chiefs frequently had good field position after forcing four turnovers. Derrick Henry was held to just 69 yards with a fumble, and Tannehill just couldn’t pick up the slack.
It’s a tough end to a lost-then-saved season for the Titans, while the Chiefs get the opportunity they painfully missed last year.
Green Bay Packers 41 @ 23 San Francisco 49ers
Wow. If this scoreline happens you can count me, and likely everyone else in the NFL, incredible surprised.
Especially considering the outcome of these teams’ Week 12 meeting, a 37-8 49ers win, this would be one of the most improbable results in the Championship round we’ve seen.
The scoring started early for the Packers and never really stopped. They put up 20 first quarter points, one long touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers and two short touchdown runs from Aaron Jones.
After the first quarter the 49ers outscored the packers 23-21, a final scoreline much closer to what many will predict, but it was far too little, too late to make any difference – the 49ers final score came as time expired in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers was efficient and deadly, passing for 287 yards and four touchdowns on just 20 completions, but the defense was the difference. Garoppolo was sacked six times – three times by Kenny Clark – and was never able to settle into the game.
If Madden proves to be right again it would set up one of the most exciting Super Bowl matchups, on paper at least: Patrick Mahomes vs Aaron Rodgers.
That was supposed to be the matchup on October 28 this season, but Mahomes was nursing a knee injury and missed the game. The Packers won 31-24, but how would it end if Mahomes was under center for the Chiefs instead of Matt Moore?
It would also be a rematch of Super Bowl I. In the NFL’s Centennial season, it seems right this be the Super Bowl matchup.