NFL Playoff Picture after Super Wild Card Weekend
The Concordia Courier
By Morgan McGrath | 1/20/2023
From Jan. 14 through 16, America had an opportunity to experience Super Wild Card Weekend, the first weekend of the NFL playoffs, and the first opportunity to see some teams advance while others fell behind and faced elimination. We’ll be recapping the games and some of the biggest surprises that came along with them.
Sat., Jan. 14, Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers: The Niners faced the Seahawks for the third time this season, and following a weak performance in the first half, many of the 49ers faithful fans were wondering if their team would yet again be halted from a Super Bowl performance by the Seahawks. At halftime, the Seahawks led the 49ers 17-16.
However, in the second half, the Niners rallied behind power players Nick Bosa, Christian McCaffery, and “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy, the former third string quarterback who has led his team to six straight wins since picking up the mantle from Jimmy Garoppolo after his season ending injury in Week 13. The Niners outscored the Seahawks 25-6 in the second half, ending the game at 41-23.
Sat., Jan. 14, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Many people said that Trevor Lawrence was the next big thing for the Jaguars, but after throwing four interceptions in the first half, two of which took place in the first five minutes of the game, I remember thinking to myself, “yeah, right,” as I shut off the game.
I would regret that decision, as the Jaguars managed to overcome a 27 point deficit, holding the Chargers to a single field goal in the second half, and winning the game, 31-30, an absolutely stunning comeback that almost no one expected.
Sun., Jan. 15, Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills: Just weeks after the Bills had no choice but to cancel a game after safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, suffering a cardiac arrest, his team appeared in the first playoff game of the season, ready for the challenge that the Dolphins were expected to bring.
While the game was long and difficult, the Bills, favored to win the game overall, held on to their seat in the playoffs, winning the game 34-31, as they advanced to the divisional round.
Sun., Jan. 15, New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings went into the game favored to win, as the third ranked team in the NFC, rallying behind veteran QB Kirk Cousins. The Giants, however, with power player Saquon Barkley and QB Daniel Jones, gave the Minnesota team a run for their money.
The Giants managed to pull off an upset, coming out on top of the Vikings 31-24. To quote a very specific cartoon lemur, “All hail the New York Giants!”
Sun., Jan. 15, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens: The final game of the night took place between the Bengals and Ravens. A close game throughout, the deciding touchdown came in the final minutes of the game, and was made, not by the offense, but by the defense of the Cincinnati Bengals. With about 12 minutes left in the game, the Ravens sat at the one yard line, staring down a “third and goal,” with hopes of a touchdown.
In a stroke of incredible fortune, as Ravens QB Tyler Huntley picked up the ball, hoping to sneak it through the defensive line, he fumbled the ball, which was promptly picked up by defensive End Sam Hubbard, a Cincinnati native. The hometown kid ran the ball 98 yards downfield, securing the victory for QB Joe Burrow and the Bengals. “You can't even dream that one up,” Hubbard said after the game in an interview, “it's pretty special.”
Mon., Jan. 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys: The last game of the weekend was played Monday night, as the Cowboys took on the Bucs. QB Tom Brady, who ended his tenure with the New England Patriots in 2020, took the team to a victory in the Super Bowl back in 2021, after just one season there.
Since that time, Brady, who has given no definitive indication of ending his 22 year career, and who is widely considered as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, hasn’t exactly reached the heights of his previous seasons. This season was the first that a Brady-led team went negative, losing more games than winning. That trend continued into Monday’s game, when Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a definitive victory over Tampa Bay, beating them 31-14.
Next weekend, four games will be played to see who passes beyond the divisional round and into the conference championship. On Sat., Jan. 21, The Jaguars will compete against the AFC’s #1 ranked Kansas City Chiefs, and the Giants will face off against the NFC’s #1 ranked Philadelphia Eagles, both of whom were granted a bye week due to their status as top team of their respective conferences. The next day, the 49ers will face off against the Cowboys, while the Bengals play the Bills.
The student’s predictions for the playoffs this season are diverse. There are supporters for the 49ers, who are the only Californian team in the playoffs. There is also support for the Buffalo Bills from New York.
Senior Emily Tinsley said, “I enjoy watching the NFL playoffs every year with my family. This year for one reason in particular, we are supporting the Buffalo Bills. I am supporting them because my great uncle used to play for them in the 80s. I think they are very capable of winning [the Super Bowl].”
Tinsley added, “For Dallas against the 49ers I have to go with the 49ers just because of California.”
Senior Jen Jolin chose to side with her home state of California and said, “I am not a big fan of the 49ers but I am supporting them in the playoffs just because they are from Northern California and I am from Northern California.”
About Morgan McGrath
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