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Bob Angelo

Thoughts On The Game
  • Writer's pictureBob Angelo

NFL Divisional Round Winners and Losers

Three takeaways from the Jacksonville Jaguars visit to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium—all of them good.

First, Doug Pederson’s leadership in Jacksonville will yield dividends sooner than later. After a wasted rookie season under a college coach who wins by out-recruiting his opponents, QB Trevor Lawrence’s game improved exponentially under Doug. The Jags' recent AFC South divisional title likely will not be their last during Pederson’s tenure.

As for the Chiefs, it’s amazing how quickly America has grown weary of the team’s annual playoff presence. So when QB Pat Mahomes went down, limped off, then returned to throw an important second half touchdown pass, I’m sure it tugged on the nation’s heart strings a bit and earned him some “Purple Heart” points. Can’t wait to see how this story plays out.

And who didn’t feel a bit of satisfaction watching Kansas City's 37-year-old backup QB Chad Henne piecing together a 98-yard scoring drive when things looked their bleakest? The Chiefs know how to win.

In the Saturday night game, I’m sure New York Giants’ fans were livid watching their team’s lackluster performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. Hey, Big Blue, your team made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. And just like the Jags, your first-year head coach Brian Daboll turned things around quickly. Time now to encourage management not to hesitate and/or try to cheap out on QB Daniel Jones big new contract.

Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles jumped back into the Super Bowl conversation with a decisive victory reminiscent of their September and October runaways.

As for Sunday, my first low goes to the no-longer Cinderella Buffalo Bills. Even Damar Hamlin’s inspirational return couldn’t light a fire under the Bills’ under-performing asses.

Their offense seemed tentative as it tiptoed through the snow, and Leslie Frazier’s sure-tackling defense allowed Cincinnati Bengals’ skill players to max out plays on multiple occasions. Apparently, Buffalo’s struggles against Miami the week before weren’t fixable.

As for the winners, Bengals QB Joe Burrow is way better than I thought. Despite numerous injuries, so was Cincinnati’s offensive line. And let’s not shortchange Cincy’s pass rushers, who started early and disrupted Bills QB Josh Allen often. I still can’t believe Allen didn’t see that corner cat blitz coming.

In Sunday’s marquee matchup, my kudos to the San Francisco 49ers defense. No, their pass defense wasn’t perfect. But the Cowboys ground game never really got going, and Dallas QB Dakota Prescott once again couldn’t connect with his receivers in the second half when it mattered most.

Lots of media types piled on Dak after Dallas’ defeat. And the Cowboys’ beleaguered head coach Mike McCarthy also caught some flak for putting his hand over a cameraman’s lens on his way off the field. Dare I say that these men are two of the finest people in the NFL.

But as Steven A. Smith said mockingly discussing Dak, “I’m sick of him… Class guy… the whole bit… When you gonna be elite?... When you gonna step up?”

Ouch. And somehowMcCarthy always seems to take the blame when his quarterbacks fail him. Double ouch!

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