The NFL playoffs have finally rolled around that they have not been a disappointment thus far. These past two weeks have been a roller coaster of events. There have been 10 games, and each one of them has been completely action packed.
The first round of the playoffs is called the Wild Card Round. This is where each team that made the playoffs, other than the two number one seeds from each division, face off against each other. The number one seeds from each division get a bye into the Divisional Rounds. In the Wild Card Round, the number two seed plays the seven seed, the three seed plays the six seed, and the four seed plays the five seed, in an attempt to create relatively even matches and close and exciting games. There were six Wild Card games, and three of them were particularly thrilling.
The first game was an AFC (American Football Conference) matchup between the no. 2 Buffalo Bills and the no. 7 Indianapolis Colts. Each team fought long and hard, but the Bills beat the Colts in a nail biter, 27-24. Josh Allen, the Bills quarterback, threw for 324 yards and two touchdown passes.
The next game was in the NFC (National Football Conference): the no. 6 Los Angeles Rams versus the no. 3 Seattle Seahawks. The Rams were the underdogs, but ended up victorious. Against the odds, they beat the Seahawks 30-20. Cam Akers of the Rams had the game of his career, running for 138 yards and scoring one touchdown. The Rams proved everyone wrong, and demonstrated that they had what it takes to defeat Russell Wilson’s Seahawks.
The most surprising game of all was between the AFC’s no. 6 Cleveland Browns and the no. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers. During the regular season, the Steelers had started out on an eleven game winning streak, but ended with four consecutive losses. However, they were still one of the best teams in the NFL. In this Wild Card game, each team gave it everything they had. Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Steelers, threw for 501 yards and four touchdowns. Sadly, it wasn't enough because the Browns’ defense had four interceptions. Ultimately, the Browns defied all odds and won the game, 48-37, bringing the franchise its first playoff victory since 1969.
The Wild Card winners then advance to the next round, the Divisional Round, in which the first seeded teams enter the playing field.
First, in the NFC, the no. 1 Green Bay Packers faced off against the Los Angeles Rams. Early on in the game it was very tight and neither team could get the offense going. After the first quarter, the score was only 3-3. Then the Packers’ offense pulled themselves together and got to work. Aaron Jones, the Packers running back, ran for 99 yards and one touchdown. Aaron Rodgers, the Packers quarterback, threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams stood no chance. The Packers won 32-18, advancing to the NFC Championship.
In the first AFC game, the no. 5 Baltimore Ravens matched up against the Buffalo Bills. This game was very tight as well. Each team’s defense was performing to the best of their abilities. At halftime, the score was only 3-3. But the Bills came back invigorated, scoring fourteen unanswered points. Taron Johnson, a Bills cornerback, had an exceptional game. In the third quarter, he intercepted the ball on the Bills’ goal line and ran it back 101 yards for a touchdown. The Bills closed the game out 17-3, taking them to the AFC Championship.
The next day, no. 1 Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC and the Cleveland Browns faced off. The Chiefs got off to an early start, and at halftime were winning, 19-3. But in the second half, the Browns started to rally back, scoring two touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, their star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was taken off the field after a hard blow to the head, and things were looking up for the Browns. However, the Chiefs held on to close the game out, 22-17, advancing to the AFC Championship.
The final game of the Divisional Round was between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints. Tom Brady and Drew Brees, two legendary quarterbacks, faced off for possibly the last time in their careers. Tom Brady has already won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and Drew Brees has the NFL record for most passing yards (77,567). The final game was high scoring and packed with action. Brady threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, as well as one rushing touchdown. The Buccaneers were the better team this game. Tom Brady outplayed Drew Brees and led his team to the NFC Championship.
The last playoff round is the Conference Championship. The NFC Championship is between the two NFC teams that have made it thus far, and the AFC Championship is between the two AFC teams that have made it thus far.
In the NFC Championship, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dueled against the Green Bay Packers in an epic match. This game highlighted another legendary quarterback matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. They both have ample playoff experience. The Buccaneers got off to an early start, driving down the field and scoring quickly. The first half ended 21-10. But after halftime Green Bay started to rally back. Aaron Rodgers threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Ultimately, the Buccaneers defense prevailed, and they beat the Packers, 31-26, to become NFC Champions.
Then, in the AFC Championship, the Kansas City Chiefs went up against the Buffalo Bills. This game was like a track meet for the Chiefs’ offense. The Chiefs have some of the fastest and agile players in the league and the wide receivers were running circles around the Bills’ defense. The Bills had an amazing season, but the Chiefs were just better. The Chiefs won 38-24 to become AFC Champions.
On Saturday, February 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. If the Buccaneers win, Tom Brady will be the oldest quarterback to win a superbowl, and if the Chiefs win, Patrick Mahomes will be the youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls (the Chiefs won last year's Super Bowl). Clearly, there is a lot at stake in this matchup, so it is sure to be an exciting game to watch.