After a wild wildcard weekend, we've taken a look at the major takeaways from all six matches before moving onto the second week of the post-season.
Bengals 26 def Raiders 19
Joe Burrow is the real deal
While Derek Carr and the Raiders believe they have the hardest working receivers in football, Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase again proved to operate at an elite and borderline-telepathic level.
The two combined for 116 of the Bengals' 244 passing yards with the ball always being placed in the perfect spot for the play to be made.
In a game that was predominately contained by both defences, despite points piling up early, the game can ultimately be summed up by a single play. That play was the improbable TD pass from Burrow to Tyler Boyd as the former managed to remain in-bounds by inches before delivering the strike with under two minutes remaining in the first half.
JOE SHIESTY 🔥 @brgridiron
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 15, 2022
Despite Carr and the Raiders' immediate response, the Bengals received the buffer they needed as the scoring quickly dried up in the second half.
The natural intangibles Burrow possesses combined with his tendency to deliver on key downs is what again forced the Raiders hand late in the fourth as they tried yet again for another fourth-quarter miracle, before ultimately coming up short with an interception on fourth down as Carr took one final shot at the endzone.
As long as the Bengals keep Burrow standing upright they will be an almighty headache for the next decade and a half.
Bills 47 def Patriots 17
Not even Belichick could slow down the Bills' offence
This was a long and rough introduction for Mac Jones to playoff football.
As soon as the Bills picked off the rookie QB during a shot to the endzone on the Patriots' first possession, then marched down the field and scored their second TD in as many drives, it was all but over for the calculated New England offence.
The Patriots had proven during their week 13 victory that they were capable of disrupting Bills star Josh Allen with their aggressive secondary and creative blitzes. However, their ultimate undoing in this contest was their inability to stop the run, which in turn freed up Allen to terrorise their stellar defence with the play-action all game.
JOSH ALLEN WAS UNSTOPPABLE!
More TDs than incompletions 🤯 pic.twitter.com/HmLTifuF9t
— ESPN (@espn) January 16, 2022
It was an ironic twist as this was the strategy that Belichick implemented several weeks ago in his team's win during the blizzard-affected contest.
Good luck to the rest of the league if Allen is free to run around and sling it at will.
Buccaneers 31 def Eagles 15
Business as usual for Brady and co
Having lost to the Eagles in Superbowl LII while still a member of New England, Tom Brady didn't need any more motivation as the Eagles once again stood between him and another Superbowl ring.
Yet, after a late hit at the beginning of the Bucs opening drive Brady become enraged, a theme that carried on throughout the length of the game as things started getting chippy.
The Eagles over-reliance on their typically effective running game was their undoing in this contest as they struggled to get the advantage against Tampa's formidable D-line. This forced the Eagles to over-rely on Jalen Hurts as he was forced to throw the ball 43 times, which resulted in 23 completions.
Having a FLIPPIN' good time
*sorry, couldn't resist 😎 pic.twitter.com/lFnZNfLNHC
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 16, 2022
The second half saw the Bucs come out in cruise control as they effortlessly continued their beatdown on Brady's old foe, holding them scoreless for three quarters till Philadelphia managed to put up some points in junk time.
Brady isn't giving an inch as he chases his eighth title.
49ers 23 def Cowboys 17
Cowboys were their own worst enemy
San Fransisco did what they usually do, run the ball aggressively and effectively blitz with four while pressuring in the secondary.
This was almost good enough to finish off Dallas as the 49ers found themselves up 23-10 with 9:38 left in the fourth until Jimmy Garoppolo threw a pick on an errant pass which resulted in a Dak Prescott rushing TD a few plays later.
The Cowboys even managed to get the ball back after a respot on a third-down conversion from Deebo Samuel was overturned and a subsequent penalty meant the Niners were forced to punt which gave Dallas just over 30 seconds for a miracle.
With 14 seconds remaining and in striking distance for a hail mary, Dak Prescott chose to keep the ball on a QB run as he captured the first down and then some but Dallas ran out of time before being able to clock the ball and stop the clock.
— NFL (@NFL) January 17, 2022
This mind-blowing mistake sums up Dallas' game, 14 penalties, including crucial ones for a dominant and reliable defence, were their ultimate undoing as they were otherwise able to rise to San Fransisco's challenge.
Chiefs 42 def Steelers 21
Mahomes in a league of his own
Despite a slow and sluggish start to this contest for both teams, the Steelers never really had a chance heading into Arrow Head against the Chiefs.
Pittsburgh was able to delay the inevitable but not even the steel curtain could forsee Patrick Mahomes dropping five TD's in a historic 10:30's to all but shatter what may have been Big Ben's final game.
Patrick Mahomes threw 5 Pass TD in a span of 10:30 of game time. It's easily the fastest span in NFL postseason history.
The next fastest? Tom Brady did it in just under 25 minutes in 2011.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 17, 2022
What else can be said other than Andy Reid's side decided to flick the switch and dump a barrage of points on their opponent just because they felt like it. Additionally, let's not discount the effort put forth by the Chiefs defence, which held Pittsburgh to 56 rushing yards, essentially forcing their aged QB to air out the ball 44 times. It was never going to be a winning formula for Big Ben and co at this stage.
Apologies Steelers faithful but there really isn't much to discuss here.
Here's hoping that the AFC Championship rematch from last season can deliver on the hype.
Rams 34 def Cardinals 11
Rams D operating on another level
It's no secret that Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offence operate at an elite level given the dual-threat capabilities of their star QB. However, Murray and co have struggled to remain consistently threatening in the absence of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Conversely, The Rams offence has re-emerged this season with the acquisition of former first overall pick Mathew Stafford, from Detroit, who has used his rocket of an arm to provide big plays consistently.
The story of Monday night's game was the LA defence as they flustered Murray all night with their elite pass-rush, having forced Murray into making errant throws, with their stellar coverage in the secondary adding to their opponent's woes.
Arguably the key play of the game came when Murray was forced to lob the ball out of his endzone while being tackled, which resulted in a pick-6 by David Long Jnr.
PICK-6. TO THE HOUSE. #RAMSHOUSE.
— NFL (@NFL) January 18, 2022
From this moment on the Rams knew Arizona were going to abandon their ground game in favour of chunk passing plays, essentially handicapping their opposition's greatest strength.
While LA stars Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller didn't star on the stat sheet, they methodically dismantled Kliff Kingsbury's innovative offensive system slowly and precisely.
This Rams side will be a holistically difficult matchup for anyone who crosses paths with them, this dominant victory only feels like the beginning of a deep playoff run.