NFL Divisional Round: 4 Things We Learned

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NFL Divisional Round
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 22: Trey Hendrickson #91 of the Cincinnati Bengals tackles Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

One more week down and many more things we’ve learned about the league and its players. Who performed at peak and who do we have more questions about? Most sports fans watched, but this sports fanatic watched every minute of every one. Trust us on this one, we will get you up to speed!

What We Learned from the NFL Divisional Round

Patrick Mahomes is a gamer.

Plain and simple, Patrick Mahomes had a legacy moment this past weekend and proved yet again why he is the highest standard of quarterback we have in the league.

Early in the game, Mahomes suffered what has now been confirmed as a high-grade ankle sprain. At the time, we all feared the worst, and Mahomes was noticeably hurt. He only missed one drive, a 98-yard masterpiece orchestrated by veteran Chad Henne that ended in a touchdown. He was vehemently arguing his case on the sideline to coaches and came back into the game heavily taped and with a noticeable limp.

That didn’t stop him from showing us the full act of Mahomes magic though, and the Kansas City Chiefs went on to win what was arguably the most fun game of the weekend. Patrick Mahomes’ story continues to be written and this past weekend we saw a man determined to be there for his team, regardless of any obstacle. Bravo.

Philadelphia has no true weakness.

The Philadelphia Eagles made a strong case for the best remaining team on Saturday night, with a thorough beat down of the New York Giants. This was mostly predicted by fans of the game, but what I don’t think anyone saw coming was just how dominant they were in every facet of the game.

To start, quarterback Jalen Hurts only missed eight passes total and threw for two touchdowns, all while rushing for 34 yards and scoring one on the ground as well. They were 10 rushing yards from Miles Sanders away from having two 100-yard rushers and their defense allowed just seven total points and 227 total yards.

Did anyone mention that this was in a playoff game? If you’re a fan of this team, it has to feel like we are on a crash course to the Super Bowl and if they continue to play like this, who can stop them?

Buffalo has some issues

This outcome was determined more by the deficiencies of the Buffalo Bills than it was by the dominance of the Cincinnati Bengals.

We all knew that going into this game, Cincinnati was on a nine-game winning streak and playing their best ball. What was unclear to us was just how disorganized the Bills were offensively, and the defense of Cincinnati exposed this early and often.

To start, the Bengals defensive line was dominant all game long giving Josh Allen little to no pocket time which forced him to play hero ball, a skill he is masterful at. The issue was, outside of Allen the team had little to no other offense. Star receiver Stefon Diggs had just four catches on 10 targets and the running game was nonexistent outside of occasional quarterback runs.

Defensive head coaches just don’t win the big ones anymore and it is becoming more and more apparent when they are paired against elite offensive talent opposite them. There will be accountability for this loss, but what changes do we see Buffalo make, especially considering they were the favorites to win the Super Bowl coming into this year?

Dak needs help

It would be very easy to come into today and blame Dak Prescott for the loss, but I think there needs to be contextualization when analyzing this game.

To start, Prescott had only 206 yards passing, which is rough, but what makes it worse is that 117 of them went to one player, CeeDee Lamb. Let’s also look at total completions, 23, and how 10 of them also went to Lamb. Now I know what you’re saying, of course they’ll heavily involve their number one receiver, but without a threat of a credible number two, eventually, you’re trapped.

Now, Prescott specifically is impacted by having, or lack thereof, a running game. He is 26-28 when throwing greater than 30 times, which he did yesterday. Partially due to the injury suffered by star back Tony Pollard, a fractured Fibula. Of the 57 offensive plays, Dallas ran only 20 times, split between three players. No one got into a rhythm running the ball, Prescott was forced to throw, to the one credible threat they have and the San Francisco 49ers escaped with a win.

Dallas Cowboys fans may want some answers/accountability, but I think we need to pump the breaks and realize what the actual problem was.

COLD TAKE ALERT: The 49ers MUST Fire Shanahan (from Oct. 2021)

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Mike Kovacs

TBH, I’m a bit worried about Buffalo’s defense, which might be a bit overrated. Will Hyde be back 100%? Will Tre White be the shutdown he was before?