This Week in the NFL: Divisional Round


Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrows prepares for a toss in the Bengal’s AFC Divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

Storylines From the Second Round of NFL Playoffs: 

Thriller in Nashville: The no. 4 seed Cincinnati Bengals traveled to Tennessee to play the no. 1 Tennessee Titans. For the entire time, it looked like the Bengals were going to upset the Titans, as they outplayed them from the very first play of the game when Bengals’ defender Jesse Bates III intercepted a pass from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. However, with around two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied 16-16 and the Titans had possession of the ball. They looked like they were going to drive down the field, and kick a game-winning field goal. However, a few plays later, after Tannehill threw an interception, the Bengals found themselves in possession of the ball with twenty seconds left in the game. It only took them one play, a pass from Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to receiver Ja’Marr Chase, to get into field goal range, and as the clock ran to zero, Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson kicked the game-winning, fifty-two-yard field goal. For the first time in franchise history, the Cincinnati Bengals have won an away playoff game.

Down with the other top seed: The sixth-seed San Francisco 49ers, fresh off of an upset win against the Dallas Cowboys, went to freezing Green Bay to face off against the first-seed Green Bay Packers. The temperatures were below freezing, and it began to snow viciously at halftime… not quite what the 49ers were used to, coming from sunny California. Players from both teams struggled to catch and hold onto the ball because it was so cold. For most of the game, the Packers were in the lead 3-10. However, in the fourth quarter, the 49ers scored ten unanswered points, seven of which were from a touchdown that came from a blocked punt. As the seconds went down to zero, 49ers kicker Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning, approximately forty-five-yard field goal, sending his team to the NFC Championship, which will send them on a fifty-minute flight down the Pacific Coast to play against the Los Angeles Rams.

Age difference: This week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t have quite as large of an age difference between his opposing quarterback, Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams, and himself, with only eleven years between them.

The Los Angeles Rams traveled across the country to play against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the entire game, the momentum seemed to be on the Rams side. However, when the score was 27-13 in favor of the Rams, the Buccaneers scored fourteen unanswered points. Sadly, the comeback wasn’t enough, and the Rams’ kicker Matt Gay kicked a game-winning, thirty-yard field goal as time expired.

A rematch of last year’s AFC Championship: The rising-star Buffalo Bills traveled to Kansas City to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. The atmosphere was electric in GEHA Stadium, with the fans screaming, and doing their famous tomahawk chop. Both teams went back and forth, with one taking the lead, then the other. This was by far the most well-matched game of the week, as both teams have incredible talent. In fact, the offenses were so talented that by the end of the game, there was pretty much no defense for either team, because the defenders were so gassed. With less than thirty seconds left in the fourth quarter, Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw a touchdown pass to receiver Gabriel Davis, bringing the team to a three-point lead, and only thirteen seconds left on the clock. Allen was seen on the sidelines celebrating with his teammates, as it seemed like there was nothing that the Chiefs could do to stay alive. No, they weren’t done yet. In two plays, the Chiefs got into field goal range, and as time expired, Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker kicked the game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss. The overtime rules say that if a touchdown is scored on the first drive of the game, then it’s over, and a field goal doesn’t win it until both teams have had possession. This means that whichever team loses the coin toss might not get a chance on offense, that is, if the first team with possession scores a touchdown on the drive. There’s been some controversy with these rules, as they’re not fair. Basically, whichever team wins the coin toss will likely win the game, without the other team even getting a chance with possession of the ball. This was true in this game, as the Chiefs marched right downfield, with the game-winning touchdown pass being caught by tight end Travis Kelce. 

All four of the games went down to the last play, with the first three being won by a game-winning field goal, specifically by the visiting team’s kicker, while the final game went into overtime.

Next week’s matchups: 

  • Sunday, January 30th at 3:05 PM: The Cincinnati Bengals versus the Kansas City Chiefs (will be played in Kansas City) 
  • Sunday, January 30th at 6:30 PM: The San Francisco 49ers versus the Los Angeles Rams (will be played in Los Angeles) 

Final Scores

  • Cincinnati Bengals versus the Tennessee Titans (played in Tennessee) – Bengals win 19-16
  • San Francisco 49ers versus the Green Bay Packers (played in Green Bay) – 49ers 
  • Los Angeles Rams versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (played in Tampa Bay) – Rams win 30-27
  • Buffalo Bills versus the Kansas City Chiefs (played in Kansas City) – Chiefs win 42-36


Kristina Klauzinski ‘24, Staff Writer