Four teams advance to NFL Conference Championship round

The second round of the NFL playoffs has come to a close, and there are now just four teams remaining in the fight for a Superbowl victory. 

In the AFC, it’s déjà vu. The No. 3 seed Cincinnati Bengals will be traveling to Arrowhead Stadium to be hosted by the No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs for the second consecutive year. In the NFC, it’s chalk. The top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the machine that is the San Francisco 49ers, who were the No. 2 entering the postseason.  

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-20

The Jags fought hard, but Patrick Mahomes fought harder. Early in the first half, Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes left the game with an apparent ankle injury that was eventually ruled a high-ankle sprain. Even that wasn’t enough to slow down the best team in the AFC. The Chiefs went on to defeat the Jaguars, mainly due to Mahomes, who returned to the game after halftime, but also to the all-time performance from tight end Travis Kelce. 

The Jags may be heading home, but they can hold their heads high after an absolutely incredible bounce-back season in which they played well, found their stride with a new head coach and found their franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants, 38-7

The Giants had a storybook season similar to the Jags, and it was similarly ended by a powerhouse who showed no mercy. The Giants have had a rough go of it since Hall-of-Fame quarterback Eli Manning hung up his cleats, but they got their legs under them this season due to  the emergence of dual-threat quarterback Daniel Jones and the new presence of Head Coach Brian Daboll. The Giants forced their way into the NFC Wild Card and proved they deserved to be there as they annihilated the Minnesota Vikings. They hoped to keep that storybook run going as they went into Philly. 

The Eagles had other plans. In the first half, Philadelphia scored four touchdowns with what seemed like little effort. The Giants rallied to score one touchdown of their own in the second half, but that wasn’t nearly enough. 

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills, 27-10

The theme of the weekend was the brutal ending of storybook stories, and that is consistent here with the Bills loss. Buffalo was the favorite to win it all going into the season, and it seemed that prediction could be correct until Joe Burrow took matters into his own hands.

The Bengals signal-caller Joe Burrow had himself a career day even while playing through gently falling snow, and the whole time it seemed as if he didn’t even have to try. Burrow went 23-36 on pass attempts, totaling 242 yards in the air and two touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t all that impressive when you look at what he’s done in the past, but the key in those stats is the lack of mistakes. 

Burrow didn’t make mistakes, and his defense forced the Bills to make a few crucial ones that gave Cincy the win. 

San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys, 19-12

The Cowboys gonna Cowboy. With the game on the line and less than a minute left to play, the Cowboys managed to make almost every mistake possible. Head Coach Mike McCarthy, kicker Brett Maher, tight end Dalton Schultz and quarterback Dak Prescott each share a slice of the blame pie, and it’s going to be interesting to see whom the fans decide is most to blame of the four of them. 

The Cowboys played poorly, but that doesn’t mean the 49ers didn’t earn this win. The Niners defense, as usual, played its best ball when it mattered most, coming up with backbreaking interceptions and quarterback pressures to keep Prescott off his game. The offense can’t go unmentioned either, who, with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy at the helm, is still undefeated in his seven starts. 

Palsgrove is the asst. sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *