The NFL Playoffs have completed the Divisional round of games, bringing us to the AFC Championship and NFC Championship contests next weekend. The playoffs have been nearly chalk this year, with only one game on each side of the bracket won by a visiting team. This past weekend’s game featured some last second wins, a win by a team that did not score a touchdown, and a blowout. It had just about everything you wanted.
The weekend started with the Atlanta Falcons hosting the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC showdown. What started off looking like it might be a close game, with Seattle scoring a touchdown on their opening possession, then Atlanta doing the same on their first drive, turned into a runaway in the second quarter, when Seattle only put up a field goal and the Falcons scored 19 points. The second half saw Seattle double their total, but 17 more points from the Falcons allowed them to coast to a 36-20 win.
The second game on Saturday had about the same plot line as the New England Patriots jumped out to a 14-3 lead after the first quarter, only to see the Houston Texans climb back into the contest by halftime, with the Patriots up just 17-13. After the break, however, it became all Patriots, who added 17 points compared to Houston’s lone fourth-quarter field goal. New England, the top seed in the AFC, moved on to hosting the conference championship game next week.
Sunday started with the late afternoon game after the Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs game was moved due to weather concerns from a 1pm ET kickoff to an 8:30pm start. That put the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys on center stage, in a classic game featuring multiple long field goals. The Cowboys scored first on a 50-yard kick to give Dallas a 3-0 lead, then the Packers scored on a 34-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers for a 7-3 Packers lead in the first quarter. The second period saw the Packers extend the lead with two touchdowns from Ty Montgomery, before the Cowboys scored a touchdown from a 40-yard Dak Prescott to Dez Bryant pass and a 33-yard field goal. After a relatively quiet third quarter with just a Packers touchdown, the fourth period opened with the Cowboys trailing 28-13, only to have them score on a 6-yard pass from Prescott to Jason Witten and a 7-yard pass from Prescott to Bryant with a two point conversion to make it 28-28. Then, field goals started raining everywhere in the final minute-and-a-half of the game. Green Bay connected on a 56-yarder to go up 31-28, then the Cowboys, a minute later, scored on a 52-yarder to tie it up again at 31-31. With just 35 seconds on the clock, the Packers drove the field to give themselves a shot at the win, with a 51-yard field goal clinching the game as time expired. The Packers’ 34-31 win moves them to the NFC Championship, where they will visit the Falcons, who had to wait until this game was over to know if they were staying at home or heading to Dallas for their shot at a Super Bowl berth.
The final game of the weekend, the Steelers at Chiefs, is one that should not have finished the way it did. The Chiefs kept Pittsburgh out of the endzone the entire game, despite Le’Veon Bell rushing for 170 yards and Antonio Brown putting up 108 receiving yards. The Cheifs, meanwhile, scored touchdowns in the first- and fourth- quarters along with a field goal in the third. Theoretically, that should be enough to win a game when you do not allow a touchdown. Instead, field goals of 22 yards, 38 yards, 36 yards, 45 yards, 43 yards, and 43 yards from Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell offset everything the Chiefs did and forced them to try a two point conversion in the fourth quarter, which failed and gave Pittsburgh the 18-16 win and a date in New England next weekend.
Here are the schedules and TV channels for next weekend’s games:
AFC / NFC Championship games
Sunday, Jan. 22
NFC: (4) Packers at (2) Falcons 3:05 pm ET | FOX
AFC: (3) Steelers at (1) Patriots 6:40 pm et | CBS
Super Bowl LI
Sunday, Feb. 5- 6:30 pm ET | FOX