Decyfr’s Divisional Roundup

Decyfr’s Divisional Roundup

After another thrilling weekend of playoff action with costly missed field goals, nail-biting finishes and yet more inclement weather, four teams moved one step closer to the ultimate goal. As we approach the Conference Championship games, Decyfr dissects 2023’s Divisional Round.

Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens

Final score: 10 – 34

The Houston Texans travelled to Baltimore, looking to upset the odds for the second week running. Hosting their first playoff game in four years, Ravens fans made their presence felt – causing problems for the Texans offense – who suffered seven pre-snap penalties. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens’ ground-game was dominant throughout – with Lamar Jackson rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns, while Justice Hill and Gus Edwards combined for an additional 106 yards. Despite the Texans’ offensive struggles, they found themselves level at the half thanks to a solid performance defensively and a moment of brilliance from Steven Sims – who pulled off a 67-yard punt return for six points. Following the break, Lamar was a man on a mission, leading Baltimore as they completely overwhelmed the Texans – scoring 24 unanswered points, including three-straight touchdown drives. The Ravens will host their first AFC Championship game in history next Sunday as they face reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. An outstanding season comes to a disappointing end for Houston, but with C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans at the helm, Texans fans have a lot to look forward to in 2024.

Player of the Game: Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens.

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Final score: 21 – 24

Coming off a resounding victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers headed to Levi’s Stadium hoping to take down the #1 seeded San Francisco 49ers. Despite a run of incredible offensive outings for the Packers, the 49ers defense limited Love to under 200 total yards. That said, running back Aaron Jones found a way to overcome San Francisco’s defense with yet another exceptional performance – rushing for 108 yards. Undeterred by the relentless rain in Santa Clara, Brock Purdy and George Kittle connected four times for 81 yards and a touchdown, as the 49ers battled to within one score. At 21-17 with six minutes remaining, Packers kicker Anders Carlson missed a 41-yarder – allowing Christian McCaffrey to punch in his 23rd touchdown of the season to give the 49ers the lead with just over a minute left on the clock. Dre Greenlaw then sealed the W when he intercepted Jordan Love for the second time – ending the Packers’ hopes of becoming the first #7 seed to make a Conference Championship. San Francisco will hope to go one better than they did last year as they host the Detroit Lions with a trip to Las Vegas on the line. But it’s not all bad news for Green Bay –  as it appears they could well have another star quarterback on their hands with a historically young team promising a bright future.

Player of the Game: Dre Greenlaw, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions

Final score: 23 – 31

After claiming their first playoff win since 1991 last weekend, the Detroit Lions had a chance to reach only their second NFC Championship Game in franchise history by overcoming an in-form Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A nervy first half, with the score sat at 10 apiece heading into the break, left it all to play for in the second half. Jared Goff led from the front – passing for 287 yards and two touchdowns, with star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown accounting for 77 yards and a touchdown. Just when it looked as though Detroit were set to pull away – following three-straight touchdown drives – the Bucs doubled their efforts, with Baker Mayfield throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns, and veteran receiver Mike Evans hauling in eight catches for 147 yards – giving Tampa Bay a chance to send it to overtime with just under five minutes left. However, with the season on the line, Mayfield threw his second interception of the day, as linebacker Derrick Barnes ended the Buccaneers’ hopes of a remarkable comeback. The Lions now head to Santa Clara with hopes of reaching their first-ever Super Bowl.

Player of the Game: Jared Goff, Quarterback, Detroit Lions.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills

Final score: 27 – 24

With their sights set on a sixth-straight AFC Championship appearance, the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Buffalo Bills in their first-ever road playoff game with Patrick Mahomes as QB1. To start the game, the Bills’ dominant rushing attack made life incredibly difficult for the Chiefs – with Josh Allen and James Cook combining for 133 yards. Kansas City retaliated with a solid rushing performance of their own, as Isiah Pacheco ran for 97 yards and a touchdown. With Buffalo up by four points at the half, the game was teetering on a knife edge heading into the second half. The Chiefs offense looked like that of old after the break – as reigning MVP Mahomes threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns, while Travis Kelce went for 75 receiving yards and two touchdowns – the latter of which set the postseason record for the most touchdown passes by a QB-receiver duo. Over the course of the game, Buffalo and Kansas City repeatedly traded blows – with the lead changing hands a remarkable six times. With the score at 27-24 and the game on the line, Allen led the Bills into field goal range – leaving their fate to kicker Tyler Bass. Then, in a moment that brought back Al Michaels’ immortal words from Super Bowl XXV, Bass’ kick travelled “Wide Right” – securing the win for the Chiefs and sending Buffalo home in the Divisional Round for a third-straight year. With the W, Kansas City now heads to Baltimore in the hopes of retaining their Super Bowl crown.

Player of the Game: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs.

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