Close Games and Upsets Headline NFL Divisional Weekend

Toby Moses, Staff Writer

After the divisional round of playoff football, fans of the National Football League (NFL) witnessed one of the most exciting and suspenseful weekends in a long time. Four teams advance to their respective conference championships from the latest round of playoffs, with close games across the board. Historic performances from elite NFL quarterbacks and multiple game-winning field goal kicks left fans entertained and assured fans that the remainder of the postseason would be extremely entertaining. 

The first game of the weekend was between the Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals, and young quarterback Joe Burrow brought another solid performance for Cincinnati. Alongside offensive rookie of the year favorite Jamarr Chase and young running back Joe Mixon, the Bengals have exceeded expectations for this season and have reached the American Football Conference (AFC) championship for the first time since 1989. In the next round, they face off against the powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs who have reached the AFC championship in the last four seasons. The Chiefs are expected to win this matchup after their stunning offensive showcase against the Buffalo Bills, but the game will be one to see without a doubt. With a star-studded roster and lots of momentum, the Bengals are certainly capable of defeating the dominant Chiefs in the next round. 

The Chiefs faced off against the Bills in a historic second-round matchup that came down to the wire. Bills quarterback Josh Allen seemed unstoppable late in the fourth and threw two touchdowns in the clutch, putting the game at 33 to 30. After the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs gained an insane 188 yards. As the time concluded, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker was set up for a 49-yard field goal. Butker sunk the kick and sent the game to overtime, where the Chiefs would win the coin toss. Mahomes quickly found tight end Travis Kelce in the endzone on the first drive of overtime, winning the game for the Chiefs, the final score being 42-36. 

On the other side of the league, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Jan. 23. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has performed great for the team, and the defense featuring Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey is one of the scariest in the NFL. With great targets at wide receivers like Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams certainly have a good chance to bring home a ring this year. In the National Football Conference (NFC) championship, they will face the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 22. Although the 49ers are a lower playoff seed, they have the momentum of two great playoff wins behind them. What makes the NFC championship a must-watch this year is the long-lasting rivalry between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The two teams have battled for over half a centuryand the rivalry results in extremely intense games.