A former two-star recruit from Athens High School in Ohio now stands atop the college football world. His name is Joe Burrow.
The divisional round delivered plenty of drama for the 2019 NFL season with a key upset, an unprecedented comeback and a nailbiter between old foes.
The first game of the weekend showcased the NFC’s sixth seed Minnesota Vikings travelling to the Bay area to challenge the number one seed San Francisco 49ers. The game went the way many people believed it would with the 49ers suffocating Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offence, meaning there was less pressure on the 49ers offence.
The end score of 27-10 didn’t do the 49ers justice as they truly dominated the Vikings, the Vikings one touchdown coming off of a great play made by receiver Stefon Diggs. The 49ers d-line was able to sack Cousins six times, meaning there was never a chance for Cousins to get his passing game going as running back Dalvin Cook was not able to make an impact.
The 49ers now move on to host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship next week.
The next game delivered the biggest shock of the weekend, with the sixth-seeded Tennesse Titans going to Baltimore and upsetting the Super Bowl favourite Ravens. The Titans were led by their workhorse running back Derrick Henry, who totalled 195 rushing yards and also a passing touchdown to beat the Ravens 28-12.
The Ravens, led by their superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson, clearly were not able to get out the front gate as the Titans forced Jackson into playing from behind, something the Ravens had very little experience with this season. The momentum of the game swung both to the Titans on two huge fourth-and-one plays.
With the Ravens opting to go for the same quarterback sneak on both, the Titans’ d-Line was able to step up both times and get stops, which on both cases led to the Titans scoring touchdowns on the next drive.
The next game of the weekend featured the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans. The Texans stormed out to a quick 21-0 lead as the Chiefs kept on making mistakes that showed the signs of a team being rusty from a two-week break, but then, similar to the Ravens-Titans game, on the first crucial fourth down play the Texans opted to take the field goal instead of going for it and extended their lead to 24-0.
This was crucial as it meant the Chiefs were down 24 instead of 28. The next huge fourth-down came on an attempted fake punt as the Texans tried to be aggressive and get the first down. As the Chiefs were able to get the stop and then scored a touchdown soon after, the score was now 24-14.
After that the Chiefs just never looked back, dropping the Texans 51-31 and possibly ending the tenure of Texans coach Bill O’Brien. The Chiefs next week will host the Titans in the AFC championship at Arrowhead, hoping to go one step further than they did last season.
The final game of the weekend showcased the Green Bay Packers hosting the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers got out on the front foot, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive that saw quarterback Aaron Rodgers pass to star wide receiver Devante Adams on a third down, a theme for the game.
The Packers would choke the Seahawks for the first half, not allowing Russell Wilson to gain any momentum. The first half closed with the Packers leading the Seahawks 21-3. But in a way similar to the Packers’ haunting NFC championship loss to the Seahawks in 2014, the Seahawks were able to climb back into the game and bring the score to a five-point deficit.
However, on the final drive of the game, Packers quarterback Rodgers was able to show some of his vintage magic and found both Adams and Jimmy Graham on separate third-down plays to extend their drive and ultimately run the clock down to give the Packers a 28-23 win.
The divisional round of the NFL playoffs delivered on many levels, and set up an exciting championship weekend, a weekend that will reveal the two teams who will play in the Super Bowl.