NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Recap


Amazing wins and heartbreaking losses are highlighting the NFL Playoffs. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The first two rounds of the 2022-23 NFL Playoffs have concluded, leaving four teams remaining with the potential to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, named after Fordham’s very own.

After surviving the Divisional Round, the teams that are still standing are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC.

With a 13-4 regular season record, the Chiefs earned the number one seed in the AFC, resulting in a first-round bye and facing the fourth seeded Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round. The Jaguars ended the regular season by defeating the Tennessee Titans in comeback fashion in the final week, securing the AFC South Division. After falling down 27-0 against the Los Angeles Chargers last week, the Jags completed the third-largest comeback in postseason history. After a disastrous start for Trevor Lawrence where he threw four interceptions in the first half, he rebounded with four touchdowns and set up the game-winning field goal for kicker Riley Patterson to complete the 31-30 comeback win.

After a miraculous victory for the Jaguars, a one-legged Patrick Mahomes willed the Chiefs to a 27-20 win over Jacksonville advancing to the AFC Championship for the fifth consecutive year. The Jaguars did not go down without a fight, after Mahomes injured his right ankle in the first quarter they were able to keep it close throughout the game. A crucial fumble by the Jags late in the fourth quarter was a deciding factor in Lawrence’s effort for another comeback win to keep the season alive. Mahomes and the Chiefs will look to get back to the Super Bowl after another successful season under head coach Andy Reid.

The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals came into the season as two of the favorites in their conference. Many had the week 17 matchup between the two circled before the start of the season as a potential determinant to who gained the higher seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. After the unfortunate events that occurred in that game, which ended in Damar Hamlin being rushed to the hospital in critical condition, the contest was canceled and not rescheduled. But, a rematch would be in store after the Bills survived the Miami Dolphins in the first round beating them 34-31, while the Bengals escaped their rival Baltimore Ravens, winning 24-17.

The snowy game did not start as the close game that was advertised. The Bengals picked up right where they left off before the previous matchup got canceled, scoring two touchdowns before the Bills got their first first down. At the half, it was 17-7 with the Bills receiving the second-half kickoff, however, they would only score three more points while the Bengals would take advantage of some crucial pass interference calls, winning the game 27-10. This sends Joe Burrow and the Bengals to their second consecutive AFC Championship game.

The New York Giants were football’s Cinderella story this year after making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 under rookie head coach Brian Daboll. After losing on a game-winning field goal in Minnesota earlier in the season, the G-Men looked for revenge against the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley carried the Giants to their first playoff victory since winning Super Bowl XLVI by beating Minnesota 31-24. The win set up a divisional round rivalry match between the Philadelphia Eagles and Giants. The Eagles completely outmatched New York for a 38-7 win, ending the season 3-0 against its division rivals and clinching a spot in the NFC Championship game.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers both started their postseasons with blowout wins before determining who would be heading to Philly to face the Eagles. The 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 41-23 for the third time this season behind another terrific game from Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy. It looked as if the Seahawks were going to pull off an upset and continue Geno Smith’s terrific season before a dominant second half from the Niners saw them outscore the Hawks 25-6. The Cowboys took care of business in Tampa Bay, defeating Tom Brady and the Buccaneers 31-14, even with four missed extra points from Brett Maher. It was the first time Brady had ever lost to the Cowboys, in what was potentially his final game in a Bucs uniform, let alone in the NFL altogether.

The wins from the two storied franchises set up a ninth playoff matchup between the Cowboys and 49ers and a repeat of last year’s Wild Card. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys hoped that better luck would turn their way as last year’s game ended with Prescott being unable to clock the ball before time expired. The two teams boasted top defenses all year and proved it with the score knotted up at six at the half. In the second half, the legend of Purdy continued as he was able to manufacture a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, while the Niners defense continued to come up big, preserving a 19-12 victory and setting up a heavyweight bout between the Eagles and 49ers for the NFC title game.

It will be a rematch of the AFC Championship game from last year as the Chiefs and Bengals are once again squaring off at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Burrow is going into the game 3-0 all-time against Mahomes and the Chiefs after a 27-24 statement win against this Chiefs team earlier in the season. Last year’s championship game ended with the same final score after a game-winning field goal by Evan McPherson in overtime. The Bengals have a similar team to last year, however with a banged-up offensive line, while the Chiefs are the same team from earlier in the season, but without Tyreek Hill from last year. The injury Mahomes sustained in the previous game could be a deciding factor in whether or not the Bengals repeat as AFC Champions or if the Chiefs can return back to the Super Bowl after a one-year hiatus last season.

On the NFC side, the top two teams in the conference will face off for the conference title. The Eagles started the season off undefeated before a week 10 loss to the Washington Commanders. After a hot start for Jalen Hurts, injuries plagued him and he was forced to sit out two games before coming back for the crucial week 18 victory to grant them home-field advantage this coming week. The Eagles will try to go poll to poll as the best team in the NFC.

The 49ers season was not as expected, but still found Kyle Shanahan’s team in the championship game for the third time in the last four years. After losing Trey Lance early in the season, Jimmy Garapollo came in relief and regained his starting quarterback job. After Garapollo got injured, a trade for Christian McCaffrey as well as the emergence of the last pick in the 2022 draft, Purdy carried them to eight consecutive wins. They will hope these winning ways continue and propel them into a Super Bowl opportunity this year.