Bengals 19 def Titans 16
Defence wins championships
After an impressive win against the Raiders in last week's WildCard game, the Bengals weren't given much of a chance against the first seed Titans.
Especially given that Tennessee's offence was finally at full strength, as the terrifying trio of Julio Jones, AJ Brown and Derrick Henry were all set to line up against Cincinnati.
Last week Joe Burrow proved to be the goods in his playoff debut but struggled mightily against the Titans relentless defence, having been sacked nine times. He managed to sling the rock for 348 yards but failed to find the endzone as Tennessee locked down inside the red zone.
Money. Mac. Shooter. McPherson. Legend.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) January 23, 2022
Conversely, The Titans had an even tougher time moving the ball against the Bengal's D as Derrick Henry was kept on a leash, only managing 62 yards from 20 carries, which essentially limited the effectiveness of Tennessee's patented play-action game.
This was an ugly and slow affair thanks to both teams' stellar defensive efforts which kept both sides in the contest all game long.
Ultimately, the outcome can be summed up by two areas; turnovers and third-down conversions. The Bengals defence was so locked in that they forced three interceptions from an often efficient operator in Ryan Tannehill, compared to Burrow's lone pick, while the Bengals also managed to convert 7/15 third-downs while the Titans converted just once.
We've seen the Bengals display their high-flying offence in recent weeks but when faced with some ol' fashioned playoff football, their defence proved that Cincinnati is the real deal heading into the AFC Championship.
49ers 13 def Packers 10
Literal team win
This game was possibly as evenly matched a contest as you may ever come across.
As expected The Niners lead the way with their physical ground game whereas the Packers relied on their legendary QB to continue making plays. The only issue with both philosophies was their opponent's defence, given both sides boast elite units on this side of the ball.
Aaron Rodgers was efficient as usual as he went 20/29 passing for 225, the only issue being 219 of these yards being distributed between Aaron Jones and Devante Adams. Even more concerning is that Jones was the Packers leading receiver, meaning that Rodgers was under pressure constantly and that Green Bay offence was reduced to dinking and dunking all game long. The snow didn't help either as it piled on late in the contest.
Similarly, the Niners were limited as Jimmy Garoppolo only attempted 19 passes, completing 11 for 131 yards and a pick. He was able to come good late as he made some key throws on their game-winning drive, essentially fulfilling his duties but not elevating beyond.
So where was the game won?
NINERS PUNT BLOCK TOUCHDOWN.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 23, 2022
San Francisco blocked a field goal attempt by Matt Crosby on the cusp of halftime to keep it a one-possession game. Then as all hope was lost the 49ers blocked and returned a punt for a TD as the Packers were forced to kick from inside their own endzone.
Cue a clutch Robbie Gould field goal and San Fransisco advance to their second NFC Championship game in three years, as they knocked off the number one seed Packers.
The 49ers will be confident heading into their clash with divisional rivals LA given they defeated them in week 18 to secure their spot in the playoffs, and continue their narrative of being the league's biggest matchup nightmare.
Rams 30 def Buccaneers 27
Matt Stafford was on a mission as he continued with his stellar play from last week, quickly dismantling the narrative of him not being a big-time performer in the playoffs.
This game seemed all but over heading into the half as the Rams were yards away from taking a 27-3 lead until Cam Akers fumbled the ball, giving the Bucs the slightest chance of a comeback.
The only thing keeping Tampa in this potential blowout was the GOAT himself, Tom Brady. Battered and bruised with no time to make throws, the Bucs were always a chance if number 12 continued slinging the rock.
That they did, as they miraculously culled a three-score lead to tie the game with under a minute to go. The amount of lunacy that ensued over the last 20 minutes of game time is too much to outline here, just know that the Rams quickly did everything they could to lose (like the Falcons in SBLI) while the Bucs capatilised on every mistake.
9️⃣ TO 1️⃣0️⃣ TO SET UP THE WIN! pic.twitter.com/1hrjkOa4lQ
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 23, 2022
Yet, with the game and seemingly his reputation on the line, Stafford uncorked an absolute bomb to triple crown receiving champ Cooper Kupp to all but end the madness with a walk-off field goal.
With their uber-talented defense, the Rams were always going to be a nightmare matchup but with the addition of Stafford and his elite propensity for playmaking, Los Angeles is in an even stronger position to capture the Lombardi Trophy than they were prior to SBLIII.
Chiefs 42 def Bills 36
This game had one of the wildest finishes in playoff history with 25 points being scored in the final two minutes of regulation.
Both defences came to play early as the scoring was fairly tame and regulated, by both teams' standards. Yet, as the game continued both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes were able to wear down their opposition's respective D en route to a gun-slinging bonanza.
Gabriel Davis was the star for Buffalo as he caught eight balls for 201 yards and four TDs, with his stellar route running creating acres of space during key plays, including an insane fourth-down conversion for the lead.
— NFL (@NFL) January 24, 2022
Similarly, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce combined for 246 yards and two TDs, with Hill's score to recapture the lead with under a minute in the fourth (post-Davis' score above) and Kelces to secure the walk-off victory in OT.
THIS VIEW OF THE WINNER. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/c7CntozVF0
— NFL (@NFL) January 24, 2022
The QB duel between Allen and Mahomes didn't disappoint as both kept their teams alive when the game would've been over for anyone else.
While it may be debated that the reason Kansas City claimed victory was that they won the coin toss in overtime, you can't discount that Mahomes lead his team down the field in 13 seconds for the game-tying field goal as regulation ended.
Next week's AFC championship game will be the Chiefs' fourth consecutive appearance. Do I really need to explain why they're a Superbowl threat?