NFL Playoff Aftermath and Super Bowl Preview

The amount of salt harvested from NFL fan bases this season would be enough to melt every flake of snow off Whiteface and the rest of the high peaks. Before we get to the two finalists for Lombardi, let’s see how everyone else did.


Seattle Seahawks

Going into Santa Clara hungry for blood, they weren’t given much of a chance, to begin with. I’ll give them credit for keeping it close for three quarters, but this game still isn’t that painful for Seattle. They did much better than expected this year and have solid players at every position besides quarterback. This off-season will be very intriguing as to the future of this team. They’ll pick fifth overall in this draft. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with that pick.

Los Angeles Chargers

Leave it to the Chargers to take a gift situation and defecate on it, thanks to the clowns running the show. Let’s not lie to ourselves. LA choked because of the guy with the universal headset. They can fire all the assistants they want, but when a supposed defensive mastermind chokes a 27-0 lead in a game they were dominating, heads at the top need to roll. I have no confidence in LA doing anything of note with Staley at the helm. His faux analytics and fraudulent defenses won’t win a thing. I need another article to discuss the Chargers’ problems in more detail. For now, though, all 13 Charger fans can cry themselves to sleep.


Miami Dolphins

I would usually have sympathy for a team in Miami’s situation going into the playoffs, but the blame for their predicament lies squarely on team management. If you hadn’t guessed by now, Tua was out of this game with roughly his 4th concussion of the season. That Cincy game broke him and turned him into a vegetable. His future in doubt, the Dolphins were forced to trot out Skylar Thompson at quarterback for the wild card game, on the road, in Buffalo. In a game where the Bills looked horrible and sloppy all game long, Miami couldn’t capitalize. Good. The 7th seed shouldn’t exist, and if the 7th seed manages to win a game sometime these next few years, the NFL will have an excuse to continue it. Miami has promise, but Tua’s health will be the key to any prolonged success.

Minnesota Vikings

This team has been dancing through the raindrops all season long. Against weaker competition, they could get away with winning because of a drive or two at the end of the game. Weren’t close games supposed to be right up their alley? How did the New York Giants, a team that historically sucks with two minutes left, out-clutch them on the road? It’s fitting how Minnesota died, with a checkdown on a 4th and 8 in man coverage. The unfortunate thing is that the 4th down will be Cousins’ legacy with the Vikings, like Farve throwing the interception and Blair Walsh missing that kick. Another painful notch on their ringless history.


Baltimore Ravens

This would have been a good game if Lamar had been playing. Even with Huntley in, Baltimore stayed in it, thanks to outstanding defense. It was carrying so much that the Ravens were leading at halftime. Unfortunately, this is where the offense decided to self-destruct at the worst possible time. It’s a tie game at 17, and Baltimore is at the opposing goal line. How about a fumble by Huntley on an attempted QB sneak, leading to a 99-yard runback for a Cincinnati touchdown?! Even with the Bengals repeatedly trying to hand them the game, Baltimore couldn’t capitalize, costing Greg Roman his job. It honestly happened six weeks too late. Good riddance.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As a New Yorker, it brings me immense joy to say this to a Tampa team: You’re done. You suck. Tom Brady will leave this offseason, and Tampa will have to scramble for a new option at quarterback. The only reason they even made it into the playoffs is that the rest of their pathetic division sucked even more than they did. Tampa is soon going into a sports dark age, and this game is more proof. I have no sympathy. How’s that for a boat parade, you entitled Floridians?


Jacksonville Jaguars

This is one of those losses you feel proud of if you’re a Jags fan. Sure, they may have lost to Mahomes throwing off one leg, but the Jags had such an impressive season by their standards that nothing else matters. This is going to be a massive offseason for them. Lawrence has made strides since the Urban Meyer disaster, and the Jags will be good for a few years. I’m proud of them, in a way.


New York Giants

This team was punching above their weight all season long. It’s one thing to face a team like Minnesota but another to face a juggernaut looking to make a statement. If Philly was the locomotive, New York was the unfortunate soul tied to the tracks. In a thunderstorm. The Giants were utterly outclassed in this game, but I don’t think many of their fans are that upset over it. They did much better than expected and had to face a team with things like “talent” and “expectations.” The results were predictable. This is going to be a very telling offseason for them. They’re staying the course with Daniel Jones and Saquon for now. Get him weapons to catch the ball, and he’ll be better next year.


Buffalo Bills

I was wondering when the Jenga tower was going to collapse. Three months straight of playing uninspired football against mediocre teams? They had trouble taking out Skylar Thompson, but then, unfortunately, they had to face a team that wasn’t starting a practice squad QB. They met one of the QBs that might be better than Allen. Even then, there’s nothing to be mad about. There was no choke; there was no ref controversy. The Bengals were just the better team, and they showed it all day long. This may have been their best shot at a Super Bowl, and it sucks that they’re out, but with the ungodly number of injuries and other hijinks this season, I’m not that surprised. Hey, but they lost by 3 scores for Damar Hamlin! Go draft more useless defensive ends this April. It helped this game, didn’t it, guys? And also fire both coordinators.


Dallas Cowboys

Hooray, you won a playoff game. What do you want, a medal or something? You beat an injury-riddled team playing a 46-year-old quarterback in one of the ugliest games I have ever seen. That game deserves an asterisk beside it. Unfortunately, you then had to play a real team. Are you trying to become the Washington Capitals or something? This is the 9th straight playoff appearance where they’ve failed to make it past the second round. That last play alone, just like last year, if you recall, should be enough to fire McCarthy and Moore into the sun this offseason. But, knowing Jerry Boy, he’ll stand pat and refuse to do anything because he’s making money. What a waste of Dan Quinn’s defense. They played their hearts out this game and then some.


San Francisco 49ers

Even when you overlook the ungodly number of injuries for San Fran in the first quarter, they probably still would have lost this game even if they had their full 53 from the start of the year. They were nowhere near the level of the Eagles. Philly did what they had to do on offense, and their defense dominated all day. It’s ironic how they could finally play a complete and efficient game against a team begging for mercy. I know this run was house money because of their quarterback situation, but this is anticlimactic. This game shows they need more, but where do they get it from? Brock Purdy? Possibly. Just take it as a learning experience. They did very well this year. I have a feeling they’ll be back here again.


Cincinnati Bengals

I know you probably think my first instinct will be to blame the refs for this and call it a day, but in reality, this game needs a deeper dive than that. The Bengals may have gotten screwed over by the officials on quite a few occasions this game, but they still had their chances and failed. Think about it for a second, and you will see that Refball was not the leading cause of death. Is the entire fanbase turning into arrogant twelve-year-olds leading up to the game? Their fault. Burrowhead? Their fault. The mayor making a proclamation declaring Burrow to be Mahomes’s father? Their fault. Their offense being lifeless during the first half? Their fault. Chucking 60-yard prayers on 3rd and short two times in the 4th quarter? Their fault. Their rookie linebacker pancaking Mahomes on a late hit and giving them the win. You already know what will be said. Sadly, this team is more gross and unlikable than the Chiefs now. Do you know how hard that is to do? NFL, congratulations, you have your manufactured drama and storylines for the Super Bowl. As for Eli Apple? Cancun on 3, buddy. Perhaps you could learn to cover a bar tab better than opposing receivers, but I have my doubts.


The killing fields are strewn with the blood and guts of the fallen. Let’s see who rises from the ashes in the AFC.


Kansas City Chiefs

Really? All of the alleged parity this season, only to have these entitled fans blessed with yet another Super Bowl berth? Hasn’t this team been given enough over the past five years? Think about it. Look at all of the special teams this season. Teams coming out of nowhere, groups looking to end painful ringless legacies- and then the Chiefs. They are the jobbers who don’t care for any storyline that isn’t theirs. Jacksonville hadn’t been to the playoffs in five years, likable to the core, and had one of the best bounce-back seasons we’ve seen in recent history? Dead on arrival. Once the lovable underdog turned juggernaut, Cincinnati loaded at every position, searching for their first Super Bowl? Oh, they fell to their blade painfully, didn’t they? They are far from the likable, hard-luck team of 2019 that everyone was happy to see win it all. They are football’s version of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The perennial juggernaut that makes mediocre roleplayers look godlike, dominating their conference and pulling incredible voodoo magic to make their third Super Bowl in four years. The reasons behind this run aren’t exactly secrets. Their quarterback needs no introduction. Patrick Mahomes has been playing on a bad ankle the entire postseason and has been good enough to keep the Chiefs in games. Most of his weapons from years past may be gone, but they’ve been replaced by castoffs looking to make a name for themselves. MVS and midfield logo TikTok star Juju Smith-Schuster was brought in in free agency. A midseason trade for Gettleman’s baby Kadarius Toney bolstered this core even further. However, unlike past seasons, their wideouts aren’t the show’s stars. That award goes to another one of their weapons, one that has emerged as a superstar this season: Travis Kelce. This man is the heartbeat of the Chiefs’ offense and is nearly impossible to cover.

Opposing defenses can only shudder when he lines up opposite them. At running back, they are aided by budding star rookie Isaiah Pacheco. He has been wearing #10 this season after Tyreek Hill left. Let’s say he will start filling his shoes these next few years: blazing speed, running with authority, and the ability to catch out of the backfield when needed. He has been an elite pickup for Mahomes this year. Their offensive line is sturdy and is highlighted by guys like Creed Humphrey and Orlando Brown. Their defense has improved considerably this season. Their D-line is imposing their will this year, led by Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Melvin Ingram, and veteran Carlos Dunlap. Willie Gay has done an excellent job anchoring the linebacker core. They shut down the Bengals effectively in the secondary, even without their top safety in Lajarius Sneed. At kicker, the successor to Gostkowski is the cyborg kicker Harrison Butker. It’s a team built for January, but they will now face their biggest test.


Philadelphia Eagles

I’ve had some takes this year that have aged very poorly. I picked the Colts to win the AFC South. I had New Orleans making the playoffs. But I think this next one might take the cake. The Philadelphia Eagles have made the Super Bowl. The team I called soft, mediocre, and overrated in my season preview is the front-runner for the NFC. I was harsher than most on the Eagles before the season, but to be fair, no one saw this performance out of them. Everyone had them making the playoffs, but not like this. I’d say the point when I realized they were legit was when they took Dallas out back and sent Cooper Rush back to his spot on the bench. Philly was a machine all season, but the pieces weren’t that well-known before the season. At quarterback is the former 2nd round pick Jalen Hurts. When he was benched by Alabama in the title game a few years ago, many people thought that would be it for his professional prospects. Not so fast. Hurts has been playing on a level this year rivaled by few, and his dynamic, dual-threat style of play keeps defenses on their heels for all 60 minutes. Hurts has been great this year, but it’s worth noting he wasn’t as good last year. What was the difference? An elite wide receiver. Last year, he had to throw to an inconsistent and often handless Jalen Reagor as his 2nd option. Philly took advantage of Jon Robinson’s idiocy to go out and get a superstar- AJ Brown. Other teams can only dream of how he opens up the passing attack. Another weapon at his disposal is Devanta Smith, another player from that ’18 Bama crew that has emerged as a solid #2 option this year and then some. At tight end, a late bloomer in Dallas Goedert, playing the best football of his career in his 5th season. Their running game is by committee. In addition to Jalen Hurts’ designed running plays, they have a solid back in Miles Sanders, who has re-emerged to be a dynamite bellcow, harkening back to their Super Bowl run from 2017. In a timeshare with him is Boston Scott, a former 6th-round pick who has been solid his entire career, but this year, he’s been utilized in a way no one else could. They have the best offensive line in the league, with Jason Kelce anchoring it at center. Their quarterback sneaks are nearly unstoppable, even when it’s obvious what’s about to happen. This makes 4th and short almost a gimme for them. Their defense has turned the clock back to its shutdown days as well. Their defensive line boasts veterans Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat. Depth acquisitions of Ndamukong Suh and Robert Quinn around the Trade Deadline made it even deadlier. Their linebackers are imposing and are Swiss army knives at their position. Hassan Reddick anchors it, flanked by TJ Edwards and Kazir White, rounding out one of the best front 7s in the game. Their secondary? Loaded. James Bradberry and Big Play Slay are covering the edges. Safeties Marcus Epps and CJ Gardner-Johnson are roaming around back there as well. Avante Maddox as nickel corner. It’s a group that does enough to aid the electric offense, but it’s been finding ways to beat teams on their own these past few weeks. They’ve given up 14 total points these playoffs. Granted, they faced the Giants and a 4th string quarterback, but those are still impressive numbers. Philly, in this game, will be looking for closure. Not for their first title. They got that one five years ago. It’s on the sidelines. Almost 20 years ago, the Eagles made their first Super Bowl, only to fall on a final drive to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Who was the Eagles’ head coach for that Super Bowl run? Oh yes. Andy Reid. This team is a juggernaut, and I’m hoping for a good game. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the actual matchup.

Game Preview and Prediction

In my opinion, what this game will come down to will be Patrick Mahomes against the Eagles’ defense. Mahomes has looked iffy and mortal these past couple of weeks, and he will get no favors as he’ll get to face a unit that has ruined many other quarterbacks this year. You cannot deny the power of the Chiefs, though. I think this game will come down to the wire and result in a 31-28 victory for Kansas City. Philly, you may kindly begin greasing the streetlamps.


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