…at least the NFL is for this season!
Over the past weekend, the NFL had their divisional round, where we whittle down eight teams into four. Next Sunday we’ll have the semi-finals where those four teams will be whittled down to the two that will play in the SuperBowl.
Before getting to that, the teams that played this past weekend were the Kansas City Chiefs who beat the Jacksonville Jaguars (27-20), the Eagles beat the New York Giants (a pretty big beatdown, 38-7), the 49ers beat the Cowboys (19-12), and, finally, the Bengals beat the Buffalo Bills (27-10).
While it seems there’s a lot of talk about the Cowboys once again losing out on advancing, I find the results of the Bengals/Buffalo Bills game a little more fascinating… in the sense that I don’t quite understand why so many seemed to think the Bills would take out the Bengals.
A few weeks ago we had the very horrifying aborted game between the Bengals/Bills wherein Damar Hamlin collapses and, we found, suffered heart failure (you can read my thoughts about that here).
Mr. Hamlin would eventually be released from the hospital and he was actually present -though obviously not playing- at the game, which much have been an incredibly encouraging thing for both the Bills players and audience to see.
The game itself took place at the Bills’ stadium. Coming into this year, the Bills were viewed as a heavy possibility to make it to the Superbowl this year. Given the torrid way they came out at the start, it seemed they were indeed unstoppable.
So, yeah, I guess I can understand to some degree why many favored the Bills over the Bengals.
Yet they lost. Not only did they lose, they were dominated, IMHO, through most of the game. The final score, thought not quite as dramatic as the Giants/Eagles final score, points to a game where Buffalo lost and lost quite big. Their offense clearly was stopped. Their defense, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have answers to the Bengals offense.
So… a big surprise, no?
Look, I’m the last person in the world one should look for any deep insight into any sport or games. I’m a casual fan, though loyal, to the ones that are local here. Having said that, I just don’t have the time to do much more than catch a game here and there and, often, not the entire game.
Football works the best for me because there are only a limited amount of games to watch and they occur only once a week.
So, yeah, I watched most of the Miami Dolphin games.
I like the team, though they have wallowed in mediocrity for very, very long.
This year, however, they had flashes of brilliance especially in several games where quarterback Tua Tagovailoa got to shine. However, he also suffered concussions and, in their final game of the season, the first round/wildcard of the playoffs, they lost to these same Buffalo Bills, two weeks ago and at the Bills’ stadium, 34-31.
Think about that: The Dolphins, a team that suffered tremendous personnel loss to injury and who were fielding a third string quarterback, held their own against these Buffalo Bills and, if memory serves, lost the game in the last minutes by a field goal.
Yet many thought that one week later these Bills would be favorites over a much stronger, far less injured team in the Bengals?
Again: I’m not a brainiac regarding sports. I don’t pretend to be one.
Yet I felt the Bills, for whatever reason, were looking very beatable going into the playoffs if only because of the very hard time they had dealing with a Dolphin team that was coming into the game against them looking very ravaged by injury.
So… who makes it to the Superbowl?
I have to say the Eagles, what I saw of them against the Giants, looked like a pretty damn fearsome machine. They go up against the 49ers next week and while they likely will have a tougher game on their hands, I suspect they’ll emerge to be the NFC team to go to the Superbowl.
On the AFC side, we have the Bengals going up against the Kansas City Chiefs. Normally, I would give the nod to the Chiefs. However, their quarterback -and one of the very best quarterbacks playing today- Patrick Mahomes, sustained a high ankle sprain in the game against the Jaguars and it is my understanding this can hobble his mobility quite a bit, should he be able to play (he stated he will).
Given this, I have to say the Bengals may have the advantage.
For the Superbowl, if it’s Eagles versus the Bengals I would give the edge to the Eagles. If it’s Eagles versus Chiefs, Eagles again.
If it’s 49ers versus Bengals? Bengals. 49ers versus Chiefs… I would go Chiefs.
Let’s see how it goes!